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Index of Black Artists of North America

The Index of Black Artists of North America is a research aid for discovering publications in Watsonline, the online catalog of the Met libraries, by and about Black artists who are connected to the United States, Canada, Mexico, and countries of the Caribbean, through nationality, residence, or heritage. Launched in 2021 as the “Index of African American Artists,” the index was renamed in 2024 to reflect an expanded regional focus and range of heritages and nationalities.

Inclusion in the index indicates that an artist's name appears in one or more Watsonline records: the extent to which each artist is represented ranges from a single entry in an encyclopedia or biographical dictionary, to more than one hundred titles. Please note that this index is in continuous development and is not a comprehensive list of all Black artists represented in the Met libraries; as such, we recommend searching Watsonline directly for artists not listed. We encourage researchers to share with us via email names of additional artists represented within Watsonline, so that we may add them here.

Index listings include hyperlinks to: Watsonline searches customized for variant name form and keyword phrase configurations; Wikipedia entries (as available), provided to facilitate discovery and introductions to artists' work; artist bibliographies/exhibition histories in the African American Visual Artists Database (AAVAD); and when known, links to artworks in The Met Collection. 

Click the A diagonally-oriented, two-headed arrow used to enter full screen mode on the Dashboard. expand icon to view the index in full screen mode.

Artists may appear in other publications held by the Met beyond the ones shown through the Watsonline search links above: catalog records for group exhibition catalogs and general surveys rarely list all artists represented; additionally, journal and periodical contents are not indexed within Watsonline and should be searched by publication title. Researchers wishing to do more comprehensive research may benefit from consulting AAVAD via the links provided, and other databases.

Collection assessment and expansion

In July 2020, Watson Library launched a large-scale initiative to assess and enhance our holdings by and about African American artists and art, with the goal of becoming a greater center of research in this area. Watson staff and volunteers have conducted bibliographic analyses of nearly 800 individual artists to date, comparing publications in existence with publications held by Watson and/or other Met libraries. We have identified, located, and acquired over 1,100 titles through purchase or donation to enhance further the collection, and have a growing list of works that we will continue to seek out for acquisition.

In sharing this index, we hope that in addition to facilitating awareness, discoverability, and wider use of Watson’s collection, scholars, specialists, curators, collectors, gallery owners, and artists themselves will easily identify and notify us of significant omissions and missing titles. Offers and donations of publications not held, and/or funds to acquire them, are welcome and appreciated. To support this initiative, please contact Jared Ash (

Guidance and assistance

Reference help is available through Watson Library via email or online chat. Chat assistance is available Monday through Friday, 10am-4pm EST, by visiting Watsonline and selecting the Ask a Librarian pop-up on the right of the screen.

For help via email, or other questions, comments, corrections, or concerns, please contact us at


Primary project members for this index are Jared Ash and Daisy Paul. Additional assistance has been provided by Scott Carlton, Michael Cummings, Emily Schmidt, Vella Voynova, Susan Appel, Elizabeth Schneider, and Charles P. Werner.

Image (from Research page): Ellen Morton Littlejohn and Margaret Morton Bibb, Quilt, Star of Bethlehem pattern variation, ca. 1837-50.