Resources for Black Studies Research
About this guide:
Welcome to the research guide for Black Studies. This guide provides search tips and links to research resources for topics related to Black history and culture.
Paper Writing Assistance
Need more help?
Print Reference Books
Get some fast background information from reference books, located behind the reference desk.
- Encyclopedia of African and African American Religions — R 299.6 G553e
- The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Twenty-first Century — R 301.45196 L917e 2003
- The African-American Century: How Blacks Have Shaped Our Country — R 305.896 G259a
- The Jim Crow Encyclopedia — R 305.896073 B879j 2008
- African American Lives — R 305.896 G259al
- Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance — R 810.9896 A145e
- Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience — R 909.0496 A647af
- Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-breaking and Pioneering Events — R 909.0496 S651b 2003
- Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage — R 973.0496 A468e 2000
- Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century — R 973.0496 F499e 2009
- Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration — R 973.0496 R347e
Online Reference Sources
To access these online sources from off campus, you will need to log in using your Pipeline username and password.
- Credo Reference Contains the full text of nearly 600 encyclopedias, dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, and other reference books.
- Encyclopedia of Race and Racism Explores the theories, origins and consequences of race and racism in modern times.
- Minorities: Race and Ethnicity in America Contents include examinations of the experiences of minorities in America
Books & Articles
Finding materials online and in the library can require using a variety of different words. The words you use to describe a topic may be different from the words used by the library catalog and databases. If you have trouble finding information on your topic, ask a librarian for help choosing the best keywords to use in your search. Or, try some of the search words listed below.
- African American
- African American children
- African American men
- African American women
- African Americans
- Black Studies
- Popular culture
- Social conditions
- Social history
Use the library catalog to find books about Black history and culture, in both print and ebook format. Your search results will include articles as well. Limit to books by choosing the appropriate box from the menu to the left of the results.
Use one of the following databases to find articles from periodicals (newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals) about Black history and culture. To access databases from off campus, you will need to log in with your Pipeline username and password.
- Academic Search Premier Provides abstracts for articles from nearly 13,200 periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) in all subject areas, and full text articles from nearly 8,750 periodicals, including more than 7,550 peer-reviewed journals. Searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,400 journals. Full text PDF content dates back as far as 1887.
- History Reference Center Covers all time periods of U.S. and World History. Provides full text from more than 1,620 reference books, encyclopedias and non-fiction books, and cover to cover full text for more than 150 leading history periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals). Includes primary source material such as historical documents, photos, and maps. Also includes biographies of historical figures, and more than 80 hours of historical video.
Primary Sources are first-person accounts or direct evidence of the topics or events you are researching. They may include letters, diaries, photographs, autobiographies, records such as birth certificates or land deeds, treaties and other government documents, news footage and eyewitness articles, plays, movies, works of art, speeches, interviews, oral histories, memoirs, architectural plans, and many other kinds of artifacts.
Secondary sources analyze, summarize, interpret, or comment on primary sources. They are usually created by someone who did not experience an event first-hand. They may include biographies, scholarly journal articles, literary criticism, political analysis, news reports other than first-hand accounts, reference books, and textbooks.
What About Newspapers?
Some sources may be considered primary or secondary, depending on how you use them. For example, a 1969 newspaper article that discusses the moon landing that year could be considered a secondary source. But if you are interested in how NASA was portrayed by the media during the Cold War, the same article could be considered a primary source as an historical artifact. Watch Newspapers – Primary Source? for more information.
Primary Sources in Library Databases
Some of the library databases include primary source materials. To access these resources from off campus, you will need to log in with your Pipeline username and password.
- History Reference Center when you search for your topic, use the ADVANCED SEARCH and select PUBLICATION TYPE = PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS. Or you can select the PRIMARY SOURCES tab found in the menu to the left of the list of results after your search.
Primary Sources on the Internet
You can also find primary sources materials through several free websites. Many of the sites listed under the Websites tab of this guide include primary sources on specific aspects of African American history, life, and culture. For primary sources related to Black history in general, try one of the following sites:
- U.S. National Archives Online Public Access Online archived records, including pre- and post-civil war and military records
- The African-American Mosaic Exhibit and resource guide created by the Library of Congress; includes images and texts.
- Africans in America PBS overview of African American history; includes excerpts from primary sources.
Figuring out whether the information you find online is credible enough for college research can be challenging. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Test for Evaluating Sources to determine whether the sources you find are credible:
Below are some recommendations of quality sites about Black history and culture:
- Intro to Afro-American Studies: A Peoples College Primer
- The African-American Mosaic
Exhibit and resource guide created by the Library of Congress. Includes images and texts.
- Africans in America
PBS overview of African American history includes excerpts from primary sources.
“Includes an online encyclopedia of hundreds of famous and lesser known figures in African America, full text primary documents and major speeches of black activists and leaders from the 18th Century to the present.”
Timelines / Chronologies
- Tangled Roots
This project produced by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition is a collection of primary documents from the 17th century to the present “about the shared history of African Americans and Irish Americans.” Also see the center’s archive of more than 200 digitized items dealing with African American history.
- The African-American Migration Experience
“The site, created by New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, makes accessible to the general public more than 16,500 pages of essays, books, articles, and manuscripts, 8,300 illustrations, 100 lesson plans, and 60 maps that will help users understand the peoples, places, and the events that have shaped African America’s migration traditions of the past four hundred years.”
- The Church in the Southern Black Community
Collection of publications beginning with the Revolutionary period and ending in the early 20th century.
- African-American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920
Digital collection includes manuscripts, newspaper and magazine articles, photographs and pamphlets. Part of American Memory. Also see Hartford Black History Project exhibit.
- Images of African Americans from the 19th Century
Collection of photographs from the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library.
- From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection 1824-1909
397 pamphlets published from 1824 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics. Part of American Memory.
- African-American Pamphlets
“The Daniel A. P. Murray Pamphlet Collection presents a panoramic and eclectic review of African-American history and culture, spanning almost one hundred years from the early nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries, with the bulk of the material published between 1875 and 1900.” Part of American Memory.
- Black Archives of America
“Images are drawn from Black Archives of Mid-America collections. Materials selected include photographs, manuscripts, local written histories, African American newspapers, and pamphlets. Artifacts are from the 19th and 20th centuries and depict African American heritage in the Midwest and the World.” Focus on African Americans in Missouri.
- The Blues, Black Vaudeville and the Silver Screen, 1912-1930s
Digitized selections from the Douglass Theatre in Macon, Georgia. The collection includes correspondence, financial records, contracts, and advertising materials.
- The Reflector
Selections from an African American newspaper published in Charlottesville, Virginia from 1933 to 1935.
- Teenie Harris Archive
Collection of photographs taken by Teenie Harris during his tenure with the Pittsburg Courier. Photographs span from 1930s to the 1960s.
- The Truman Administration and the Desegregation of the Armed Forces
Collection of digitized documents from the Truman Library dating from 1938 through 1957.
- The FBI Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room
Full-text FBI documents on a number of people including Thurgood Marshall, Paul and Eslanda Robeson, Clarence 13X Smith, Jackie Robinson, Wallace D. Fard.
- Black Panther Party Sound Recording Project
Selection of speeches, broadcasts and other recordings of Black Panther Party members.
- The Ten O’Clock News
Digitized videoclips from Boston’s WGBH’s news program. The newsclips date from 1974 to 1991 and focus on Boston’s African American community.
Civil War & Slavery
- African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Historical Society exhibit features 117 documents including letters, warrants, bills of sale and antislavery material. Also see the Society’s Images of the Antislavery Movement in Massachusetts.
- Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy
Data documenting “slave names, genders, ages, occupations, illnesses, family relationships, ethnicity, places of origin, prices paid by slave owners, and slaves’ testimony and emancipations” on over 100,000 slaves in Louisiana during the 18th and 19th centuries.
- Amistad trial site
Fulltext of the Amistad decision plus links to other relevant sites.
- Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in America: A Visual Record
Hundreds of images depicting slavery and the slave trade, includes maps, illustrations and photographs.
- Beyond Face Value: Depictions of Slavery in Confederate Currency
Exhibit by Louisiana State University depicting currency from the Confederate states.
- Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project 1936-1938
The American Memory Collection of more than 2,300 first person accounts of slavery plus 500 photographs. The narratives formed the content of the 17 volume printed set, Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Also listen to interviews of 23 former slaves in the American Memory collection, Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories.
- Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery & Justice Collection of 18th and early 19th century compiled by a committee looking into Brown University’s historical relationship with slavery.
- The California Underground Railroad
Digital archive of newspapers, manuscripts and other material documenting the experiences of African American slaves in California.
- Death or Liberty Exhibition
Exhibition at the Library of Virginia covering Gabriel’s Conspiracy in 1800, Nat Turner’s Rebellion of 1831 and the Harpers Ferry raid of 1859. Includes a selection of transcribed and digtitized documents.
- Diary of a Contraband
Diary of William B. Gould who served as a Black sailor during the Civil War.
- The Dred Scott Case
Collection of 85 digitized and transcribed St. Louis Circuit Court records that document the Scotts’ early struggle to gain their freedom through litigation. Also see the items included in the Secession Era Editorials Project.
- Freedom’s Journal
Project by the Wisconsin Historical Society to digitize all 103 issues of the first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States (1827-1829).
- Geography of Slavery in Virginia
“The Geography of Slavery in Virginia is a digital collection of advertisements for runaway and captured slaves and servants in 18th- and 19th-century Virginia newspapers.”
- Monticello Plantation Database
Database of information to more than 600 individuals “who lived in slavery on Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia plantations.”
- North American Slave Narratives
A collection of “approximately two hundred texts, including all known narratives of fugitive and former slaves published in broadsides, pamphlets, or book form in English up to 1920 and many of the biographies of fugitive and former slaves published in English before 1920.” Also see American Slave Narratives, Third Person, First Person, and selected documents from the Freedmen and Southern Society Project and African-American Women.
- Roanoke Island Freedmens Colony
Collection of documents and other resources dealing with the colony of former slaves on Roanoke Island in 1863.
- Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection
Digitized collection of thousands of anti-slavery and abolitionist material from Cornell University. Also see Antislavery in New England, a collection of antislavery material from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.
- Slaves and the Courts
“Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860, contains just over a hundred pamphlets and books (published between 1772 and 1889) concerning the difficult and troubling experiences of African and African-American slaves in the American colonies and the United States.” Part of American Memory.
- Virginia Emigrants to Liberia
This is a “searchable database of nearly 3700 Virginia emigrants to Liberia” plus relevant documents and timeline. Also see Liberian Letters for digitized version of letters from some of these emigrants and Maps of Liberia 1830-1870.
- Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database
Data on almost 35,000 slaving voyages supplemented with images, a names database and other material. Also see DPLS Archive: Slave Movement During the 18th and 19th Centuries.
- Brown v. Board of Education Digital Archive
The University of Michigan Library’s Brown v. Board of Education Digital Archive “contains documents and images which chronicle events surrounding this historically significant case up to the present.” Also see the Library of Congress exhibit With an Even Hand, Eisenhower documents on Little Rock, and An Imperfect Revolution: Voices from the Desegregation Era.
- Civil Rights Digital Library
Searchable clearinghouse of civil rights websites.
- Civil Rights Documentation Project
Project emphasizing civil rights legislation from 1963-1965 includes primary sources and a timeline.
- Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive
Project which will “result in the creation of an Internet-accessible, fully searchable database of digitized versions of rare and unique library and archival resources on race relations in Mississippi.” Includes a collection of oral histories, photographs, and a selection of manuscript materials including letters and diaries.
- Civil Rights Special Collection
Collection of primary sources, media, interviews and lesson plans.
- Crossroads to Freedom
“Crossroads to Freedom is a digital archive of materials that documents the Civil Rights era in Memphis, Tennessee.”
- Land of (Unequal) Opportunity: Documenting the Civil Rights Struggle in Arkansas
“This collection of images, broadsides, pamphlets, and publications documents the changing nature of civil rights in Arkansas from the territorial period through today.”
- Duluth Lynchings Online Resources
A digital collection of more than 2,000 pages of primary sources dealing with the lynching of three Black men on June 15, 1920. Also see the Tulsa Race Riot photograph collection and report.
- Freedom Now
Collection of documents and photographs illustrating the history of the Mississippi Freedom Movement.
- Historical Publications of the United States Civil Rights Commission
Digitized collection of documents from the Commission dating from 1957 to 2006 from the Thurgood Marshall Law Library at the University of Maryland.
- “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow”
Companion site to the PBS series. Includes a timeline, personal accounts, maps, and historic information.
- Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
Museum at Ferris State University provides images of racist objects, images and cartoons along with essays.
- Milburn (Mississippi Burning) Investigation
948 pages of FBI documents concerning the murder of 3 civil rights workers in Milburn, Mississippi in 1964. Part of the FBI FOIA Electronic Reading Room.
- Oral Histories of the American South – Civil Rights
Collection of oral histories from a number of Southern oral history programs.
- Papers of Justice Tom C. Clark
Papers of the Supreme Court justice dealing with civil rights cases of the 1950s.
- Powerful Days: The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore
Exhibit of Moore’s, a photographer for Life, photographs depicting the civil rights movement.
- Race and Place: An African-American Community in the Jim Crow South: Charlottesville, VA
“An archive about the racial segregation laws, or the ‘Jim Crow’ laws from the late 1880s until the mid-twentieth century.” The archive also includes newspaper articles and photographs.
- Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project
“This multi-media web site brings the vital history of Seattle’s civil rights movements to life with dozens of streaming-video oral histories, and hundreds of rare photographs, documents, movement histories, and personal biographies.”
- Trials of the Scottsboro Boys
Site documenting the 1930’s trials of the Scottsboro boys includes excerpts from court documents, contemporary newspaper accounts, letters, photographs and biographies. Part of the Famous Trials of the 20th Century site.
- Sovereignty Commission Online
“The files of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, the state’s official counter civil rights agency from 1956 to 1973.”
- Television News of the Civil Rights Era 1950-1970
Collection of digitized news segments from two Roanoke, Virginia tv stations (WDBJ and WSLS) plus documents and oral histories.
- Voices of Civil Rights
A collection of “thousands of personal stories, oral histories, and personal artifacts of the Civil Rights Movement” collected by the Library of Congress. Also see African American Oral History Collection, Civil Rights Greensboro (which “houses approximately 125 oral history transcripts that formerly comprised the Greensboro VOICES website”).
- Without Sanctuary
Website that accompanies book with the same title with graphic photographs of lynchings.
- Civil Rights Movement Veterans
Created by members of CORE, SCLC, SNCC, NAACP and other organizations, this Web site includes photos, oral histories, and documents.
- We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement
A collaboration between the National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration, this Web site presents photographs, maps and information about places with relevance to the movement, as well as the Selma to Montgomery March National Historic Trail.
- African American Odyssey
See the Library of Congress’s online exhibition about the history of African-Americans, ending with the Civil Rights Movement, well illustrated with photographs and documents.
- The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
Based at Stanford University, the King Institute is publishing the papers of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Reporting Civil Rights
The companion Web site for The Library of America’s book series includes a timeline, recollections of journalists covering the movement and an excellent list of further web resources.
- “With an Even Hand”: Brown v. Board at Fifty
A photo-rich essay on the origins and legacy of the Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation is presented by the Library of Congress.
- Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive
This University of Southern Mississippi Web site features original documents and oral histories.
- The Birmingham News: Unseen. Unforgotten.
In 2004, the Birmingham News discovered a cache of thousands of unpublished news photographs in a closet. Many documented events of the civil rights movement. This Web site presents a selection, in categories like desegregation, the Freedom Riders, and voting rights.
- Eyes on the Prize (PBS)
This Web site contains about two hours of historic video footage.
- Marcus Garvey & UNIA Papers Project
Web site accompanying the publication of Garvey’s papers, includes sample documents, narrative and some photographs.
- “Born in the Wake of Freedom:” John Mitchell, Jr., and the Richmond Planet
The history of the oldest African American newspaper and it’s most famous editor. An exhibit created by the Virginia Newspaper Project.
- The Frederick Douglass Papers
The first release of this Library of Congress collection contains over 2000 items and “contains the writings of Douglass and such contemporaries in the abolitionist and early women’s rights movements as Henry Ward Beecher, Ida B. Wells, Gerrit Smith, Horace Greeley, and others.” Part of American Memory.
- Du Bois Central
University of Massachusetts Amherst provides a biography, exhibits, photographs and selected books and articles by W.E.B. Du Bois.
- The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences
Fairly extensive biographies of African American scientists. Entries include photograph and bibliography.
- Malcolm X: A Research Site
“This web page is designed to be a resource for scholarship in Black Studies and the political development of activists in the Black Liberation Movement.” Includes an extensive chronology and some audio clips.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Project
Project sponsored by Stanford University and the MLK Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Includes a brief, selected documents, and a searchable database of transcriptions of MLK papers and secondary works. Also see the MLK Newspaper Archive.
- Reflections of Black History
Memoir of Thomas C. Fleming, black journalist and co-founder of the Sun-Reporter, Northern California’s largest weekly African American newspaper. The memoir covers most of the 20th century.
- Booker T. Washington: Online Resources
The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material associated with Booker T. Washington, including manuscripts, photographs, and books.