Smithsonian Libraries and Archives’ Research Collections in Conversation Series

Illuminating Du Bois: Examining the Legacy of a Sociologist and Historian through Research and Design

Deconstructing Power: W. E. B. Du Bois at the 1900 World’s Fair places decorative arts from Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection in dialogue with 20 of W. E. B. Du Bois’ innovative data visualizations. On loan from the Library of Congress, these groundbreaking visualizations document the progress of Black Americans and life inside the veil of systemic oppression.   

Join Cooper Hewitt and Smithsonian Libraries and Archives for a conversation highlighting the legacy of Du Bois’ work as a sociologist and historian, which has inspired researchers and designers across disciplines.

Moderated by Lanisa Kitchiner, consulting curator of Deconstructing Power, this program marks the launch of Smithsonian Libraries and Archives’ Research Collections in Conversations series. Speakers include Hollis L. Gentry Brown, Nilda Lopez, Cheryl D. Miller, and Kara Tucina Olidge. 


This virtual program will feature a series of short presentations followed by a panel discussion and audience Q&A hosted through Zoom, with the option to dial in. Details will be emailed to you upon registration. This program includes closed captioning. It will be recorded and available on Cooper Hewitt’s YouTube channel a week following the lecture. For general questions or if we can provide additional accessibility services or accommodations to support your participation in this program, please email us at or let us know when registering. 


Lanisa Kitchiner is chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress. Previously, she was director of education and scholarly initiatives at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art (2014-2020), where she helped create the museum’s first online exhibition, Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean. She earned a doctorate in African Studies and Research from Howard University, where she also served as associate director for programs of the Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center.


Hollis L. Gentry Brown is an information specialist in genealogy with the Strategic Initiatives and Programs of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives where she coordinates genealogy research, education, and programming. She has been the research content lead for the Freedmen’s Bureau Digital Records Project, the Smithsonian’s large crowdsourcing initiative, since 2015. The project, co-sponsored by the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Smithsonian Transcription Center, seeks to provide free online access to transcriptions of nineteenth century federal records documenting the transition of African Americans from slavery to freedom and citizenship. Her contributions of documenting African Americans between the end of the Colonial Era to the Early National Period appear in Forgotten Patriots, America’s Revolutionary Women, and My Father was a Soldier, published with the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).   

Nilda Lopez is a reference librarian at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Library in New York City where she provides onsite and remote services and access to rare and distinguished collections. She previously worked at the New York Public Library as a children’s and young adult librarian. She also serves as the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives liaison to the National Museum of the American Latino and enjoys interdisciplinary research. She received her Master’s of Library and Information Science from Queens College in 2011 and her Master’s of Museum Studies in 2015.  

Cheryl D. Miller is a graphic designer, author, and theologian who is best known for her advocacy on racial, cultural, and gender equity, diversity, and inclusion. An accomplished, award-winning designer and businesswoman, Miller established one of the first Black women-owned design firms in New York City in 1984. Cheryl D. Miller Design, Inc. serviced corporate communications to a Fortune 500 clientele, including BET, Chase, Philip Morris USA, Time Inc., and Sports Illustrated, as well as nonprofit African American organizations that grew out of the Civil Rights Movement. Miller’s seminal 1987 article for PRINT magazine, “Black Designers Missing in Action,” laid the groundwork for her advocacy, followed by “Embracing Cultural Diversity in Design” in 1990, “Black Designers: Still Missing In Action?” in 2016, and “Black Designers Forward in Action” in 2020. Miller lectures widely. Her work and archives were acquired by Stanford University Libraries in 2018. Miller is the AIGA Medalist 2021, “Expanding Access.” Miller is The One Club Creative Hall of Fame inductee 2022. She received Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Award for Design Visionary in 2021. 

Kara Tucina Olidge is the associate director of collections & discovery at the Getty Research Institute , where she directs the curatorial, conservation, institutional records, library, and special collections management departments. She served as the executive director of the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, the nation’s oldest and most comprehensive independent archive specializing in the history of African Americans. Prior to this position, she was the deputy director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a branch of the New York Public Library. Her scholarly work focuses on critical cosmopolitanism, identity, and cultural activism within communities of color. She is a board member of South Arts and the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation. Olidge is the founding president of the Louisiana Charles Deslondes Chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.


Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty is the director of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives. The recently integrated Smithsonian Libraries and Archives contains nearly three million library volumes and over 44,000 cubic feet of archival materials chronicling the history of the Smithsonian. Evangelestia-Dougherty oversees 137 employees, a national advisory board of 18 members, an annual budget of over $16 million, and 22 library research centers and reading rooms located in Washington, D.C., New York City, Maryland, Virginia, and the Republic of Panama. 

Previously, Evangelestia-Dougherty was an associate university librarian at Cornell University where she initiated Cornell RAD, a new research hub for rare and distinctive collections. She is also a faculty member of the UCLA California Rare Book School. As director of collections and services at New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture from 2013 to 2014, Evangelestia-Dougherty led collection and programmatic development of five curatorial divisions. At the University of Chicago’s Black Metropolis Research Consortium, she served as executive director from 2011 to 2013 and as consulting archivist from 2007 to 2011. There, she successfully led initiatives to discover and make accessible archives related to the African American diaspora. 

In addition to her extensive work with rare and distinctive collections, Evangelestia-Dougherty is a published author and public speaker who has presented nationally on topics of inclusivity and equity in bibliography, administration, and primary-source literacy. She currently serves on the boards of Digital Scriptorium and the American Printing History Association. 

Evangelestia-Dougherty holds a Master of Science in information science from Simmons University’s School of Library and Information Science in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Houston. 

Devon Zimmerman, PhD, is the associate curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art in Maine. His research focuses on transatlantic networks that fueled modernism in art and design. He is the curator of the exhibition Deconstructing Power: W. E. B. Du Bois at the 1900 World’s Fair, currently on view at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. He is also the curator of several forthcoming exhibitions, including Spontaneous Generation: The Art of Liam Lee and Ever Baldwin: Down the LineHis article, “Corroding Geometries: Elsa Gramcko, Automobility, and the Paradoxes of Venezuelan Modernity, 1955–1965″ is to be published in the forthcoming issue of Modernism/Modernity. 

Special Thanks

This featured program is in partnership with Smithsonian Libraries and Archives 

Deconstructing Power: W. E. B. Du Bois at the 1900 World’s Fair is made possible with major support from The Hearthland Foundation and Denise Littlefield Sobel. Additional support is provided by the Ehrenkranz Fund and The Felicia Fund. 


Featured Images:  from left to right: Assessed valuation of all taxable property owned by Georgia Negroes, W.E.B. Du Bois, ca. 1900. Photo: Library of Congress. City and rural population 1890, W.E.B. Du Bois, ca. 1900. Photo: Library of Congress. Land owned by Negroes in Georgia, U.S.A. 1870-1900, W.E.B. Du Bois, ca. 1900. Photo: Library of Congress