Katherine Lederer Collection

Collection Number: Unprocessed
Volume: Approximately 80 cubic feet

A sampling of this collection has been digitized and is available online in our Digital Collections. Dr. Lederer’s exhibit, Springfield’s Lost Black History, has also been digitized.


Special Collections often allows access to unprocessed collections, but such access is at the discretion of the archives staff. Researchers planning to use unprocessed materials should make arrangements ahead of time so the materials can be reviewed. Researchers should also recognize that working with collections with minimal or no organization can be a time consuming, but potentially rewarding, task.


In February 2000, Dr. Katherine Lederer donated her extensive collection on African American history to the University. Over the next several years, she continued to work with the collection and began transferring it in increments to Special Collections. After Dr. Lederer’s death in 2005, the remaining materials were moved to Meyer Library.


This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Scope and Content

For over 20 years, Dr. Lederer worked to preserve this region’s African American heritage. Through archival research and by building close bonds with the area’s ethnic community, Dr. Lederer compiled a collection of approximately 7,500 documents, many from the 19th century. The Lederer Collection includes over 2,500 photographs, numerous documents (such as marriage records and copies of church records), and Dr. Lederer’s own notes and writings.

The collection has served many instructional purposes over the years, including forming the basis of Dr. Lederer’s 1986 work, Many Thousand Gone: Springfield’s Lost Black History. Selections from the photograph collection have been displayed throughout the region, and materials in the Lederer Collection were used to develop an online exhibit, Dallas Bartley: Small Town Boy.

In addition to the archival materials, Dr. Lederer’s extensive book collection was donated to Missouri State University. Those volumes are currently being reviewed and many will be added to Meyer Library’s book holdings.

Archivists are working to better organize the Lederer Collection. Researchers should be aware, however, that folder/item lists exist for only a small part of the collection. Anyone wishing to access this collection is strongly encouraged to contact Special Collections and Archives prior to a research visit.