Resources for Black Studies Research

black student reading book titled "Great Rulers of the African Past"

Image from the United States National Archives

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.

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Reference Sources

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
  • Pan-African Chronology: A Comprehensive Reference to the Black Quest for Freedom in Africa, the Americas, Europe and Asia — R 973.0496 J52p
  • Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration — R 973.0496 R347e
  • The African American Encyclopedia — R 973.0496 W725a 2001

Online Reference Sources

To access these online sources from off campus, you will need to log in using your Pipeline username and password.

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
  • Afro-Americans
  • Black Studies
  • Culture
  • Popular culture
  • Social conditions
  • Social history

Books

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.

Articles

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 Complete 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

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

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.
  • Ethnographic Video Online Search for “African American” or “Black”

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:

Websites

Finding good websites for college research can be difficult and time-consuming. Use the C.A.R.S. system to evaluate any websites you find:

  • Credibility: Is an author listed? What are the author’s credentials? Is there evidence of positive peer evaluation?
  • Accuracy: Is the date of the site current? Is the information complete and not too vague? Does the author acknowledge all views?
  • Reasonableness: Is the author fair and objective? Is the author concerned with the truth?
  • Support: Does the author provide support for the information? Are the sources listed?

Below are some recommendations of quality sites about Black history and culture:

General History

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.
  • Harlem History
    “Harlem History presents a wealth of archival treasures and scholarship from Columbia about the history of one of the world’s most famous and influential neighborhoods.”
  • 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

Civil Rights

Biographies

  • 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.