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Black History Resources

"To recall and celebrate the positive contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of Black abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month." (from Black History Month: February 2007, U.S. Census Bureau)

Quick Links:  Biographical Information  |  Comprehensive Web Sites  |  Databases  |  Education-Related Sites (Lesson Plans, Teacher Resources)  |  Primary Sources  |  RamCat (Subject Choices)  |  Research  |  Statistics (Facts & Figures)


Biographical Information

Africans in America: America's Journey through Slavery (PBS)
A legacy site for the 1998 PBS TV series. Presented in four parts. For each era users will find a historical narrative; a resource bank of images, documents, stories, biographies, and commentaries; and a teacher's guide for using the content of the web site and the television series in U.S. history courses. Examples of biographies include Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797) (one of the first former slaves to write and publish his own autobiography), Lemuel Haynes (1753-1833) (probably the first African American ordained by a mainstream Protestant Church in the United States), and Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) (author of Incidents in the life of a slave girl, one of the first open discussions about the sexual harassment and abuse endured by slave women -- a topic that even made many abolitionists uncomfortable).

Biographies from Texas Treasures > Giants of Texas History (Texas State Library and Archives Commission)

Black History Month (infoplease)
Includes History and Timelines, Special Features, Holidays, Education, and Fun Stuff (quizzes and crossword puzzles). Includes section on Notable African Americans [A-Z list], organized alphabetically by name, or you can browse by categories such as government leaders and civil rights leaders.

Black History Month (Thomson Gale)
Includes activities from Thomson Gale's Black History Month Resource Book, an extensive list of online biographies, synopses of selected literary works by African American writers, links to other web sites, a quiz to test your knowledge of African American history, and a timeline.

Black Members of the United States Congress: 1789-2001  [PDF, 58 pp.]
A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report for Congress, prepared by Mildred L. Amer. Updated July 12, 2001. Presents an alphabetical listing of black members, selected biographical information, and committee assignments during their tenure in office. (via the University of North Texas, CRS Reports web site)

Black Members of the United States Congress: 1870-2004  [PDF, 61 pp.]
A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report for Congress, prepared by Mildred L. Amer. Updated March 4, 2004. Presents an alphabetical listing of black members, selected biographical information, and committee assignments during their tenure in office. (via the University of North Texas, CRS Reports web site)

Black Members of the United States Congress: 1870-2005  [PDF, 64 pp.]
A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report for Congress, prepared by Mildred L. Amer. Updated August 4, 2005. Presents an alphabetical listing of black members, selected biographical information, and committee assignments during their tenure in office. (via the University of North Texas, CRS Reports web site)

Culture & Change: Black History in America (Scholastic)
This comprehensive Web site includes activities for students in grades 3 through 7. Sections include "Meet and Publish" (Rosa Parks, Melba Pattillo, and African-American Inventors (the top ten inventors)), "Read and Explore" an interactive timeline to learn more about African-American history, "Listen and Interview" for jazz history and an interview with Wynton Marsalis, and "More to Explore" with links to "Alabama and Civil Rights in the 1960s," "Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Legacy of a Leader," and "Our America: Civil War."

Celebrate Black History Month (The History Channel)
Links to biographical information on a number of African Americans, including activists, athletes, authors, journalists, musicians, and politicians.

Civil Rights. The Learning Page, Community Center (Library of Congress)
The Library of Congress has gathered more than forty online resources for students and teachers, including information about Jim Crow in America; Brown v. Board of Education; a timeline from slavery to Civil Rights; personal stories of "everyday" Civil Rights activists; and profiles of such notable African Americans as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Langston Hughes, and W.E.B. Du Bois. The site also offers lesson plans for grades 7-12.

Forever Free: Nineteenth Century African-American Legislators and Constitutional Convention Delegates of Texas (Texas State Library and Archives Commission)

  • A joint online exhibit from the State Preservation Board and the Texas State Libraries and Archives Commission

Handbook of Texas Online
Search the Handbook for many more biographies of African American Texans.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Legacy of a Leader (Scholastic)
Includes a slide show ("Last Days") of some of Benedict Fernandez's photographs taken between 1967 and 1968, during the last year of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life, and a quiz.

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Comprehensive Web Sites / Research / Primary Sources

African American Heritage (Montgomery County Public Libraries, Rockville, MD)
Extensive collection of links covering such topics as Facts & Figures; Collective Biographies; Individuals; Important Events and Places; and Literature, Art & Music. The "Important Events & Places" section is particularly useful.

African American History Month (National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places)
This site promotes awareness of and appreciation for the historical accomplishments of African Americans and highlights various publications, properties listed in the National Register, and National Parks that deal directly with the ingenuity, creativity, cultural, and political experiences of African Americans.

  • "African American Churches as Ethnographic Resources" (CRM Online [Cultural Resource Management] v.24, no.5, 2001)
  • "African American History and CRM" (CRM Online [Cultural Resource Management] v.19, no.2, 1996) (A CRM issue that explores African American history. The articles are designed to bring about a greater awareness of and attention to this important aspect of American history and the cultural resource management issues faced by the National Park Service in the interpretation and preservation of this history.)
  • "African American History and Culture: A Remembering" (CRM Online [Cultural Resource Management] v.20, no.2, 1997) (A CRM issue that explores African American heritage in the National Park Service architecture.)
  • "Cultural Diversity and Historic Preservation" (CRM Online [Cultural Resource Management] v.15, no.7, 1992) ("The protection of cultural properties of groups other than American Indians began in the 1940s when the George Washington Carver Monument in Diamond, Missouri was added to the national park system. However, the pace of activity increased dramatically in the 1960s in response to the civil rights movement, new trends in historical research and interpretation, and the coalescing of cultural groups interested in their heritage. ... This collection of essays covers the evolution of cultural diversity in historic preservation, particularly since the late 1960s when American history was transformed by the 'new social history' and the civil rights movement." Includes "African-American Archeology, Public Education and Community Outreach," among others)
  • "Slavery and Resistance" (CRM Online [Cultural Resource Management] v.21, no.4, 1998) (A CRM issue that explores slavery and the Underground Railroad, topics that receive considerable attention in the National Park Service.)
  • "We Have a Claim on this Estate': Remembering Slavery at Arlington House" (CRM Online [Cultural Resource Management] v.25, no.4, 2002) (CRM issue "America's Civil War--Challenges, Perspectives, Opportunities.")

Africans in America: America's Journey through Slavery (PBS)
A legacy site for the 1998 PBS TV series. Presented in four parts. For each era users will find a historical narrative; a resource bank of images, documents, stories, biographies, and commentaries; and a teacher's guide for using the content of the web site and the television series in U.S. history courses.

African-American Mosaic: a Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History & Culture
An online exhibit as well as a publication from the Library of Congress. The Mosaic is the first library-wide resource guide to the institution's African-American collections, some of which can be found below, in "American Memory." Covering the nearly 500 years of the black experience in the Western hemisphere, the Mosaic surveys the full range size, and variety of the Library's collections, including books, periodicals, prints, photographs, music, film, and recorded sound. ... [The online] exhibit is but a sampler of the kinds of materials and themes covered by the publication and the Library's collections. Many of the exhibit items are featured in the Mosaic. Other exhibit materials, not specifically described in the publication, are also included to illustrate that the Mosaic is an effective guide to the Library's rich collections, not an exhaustive inventory. A print copy of American-American Mosaic can be found in the Stacks under call number E184.6 .L5 1993.

American Memory (Library of Congress)
American Memory, from the Library of Congress, includes 16 collections on African American history, some of which are listed below. [list of all 16 African-American History collections]

  • African American Odyssey
    • Showcases the Library's incomparable African-American collections. The presentation was not only a highlight of what is on view in this major black history exhibition, but also a glimpse into the Library's vast African-American collections. Both include a wide array of important and rare books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings. It includes links to some of the other African American collections listed below.
  • African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907
    • This 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. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Benjamin W. Arnett, Alexander Crummel, and Emanuel Love.
  • Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938
    • More than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. This online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress and includes more than 200 photographs from the Prints and Photographs Division that are now made available to the public for the first time.
  • First-Person Narratives of the American South, 1860-1920
    • This compilation of printed texts from the libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill documents the culture of the nineteenth-century American South from the viewpoint of Southerners. It includes the diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, travel accounts, and ex-slave narratives of not only prominent individuals, but also of relatively inaccessible populations: women, African Americans, enlisted men, laborers, and Native Americans.
  • From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1822-1909
    • This collection presents 396 pamphlets from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, published from 1822 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics. The materials range from personal accounts and public orations to organizational reports and legislative speeches. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Kelly Miller, Charles Sumner, Mary Church Terrell, and Booker T. Washington. It complements African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907.
  • Voices from the Days of Slavery (audio presentation)
    • Former slaves tell their stories. The almost seven hours of recorded interviews presented here took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. Several individuals sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement. It is important to note that all of the interviewees spoke sixty or more years after the end of their enslavement, and it is their full lives that are reflected in these recordings. The individuals documented in this presentation have much to say about living as African Americans from the 1870s to the 1930s, and beyond.

American Women's History: African American Women
Part of a comprehensive website on women's history compiled by Ken Middleton, reference/microforms librarian at Middle Tennessee State University Library. This site covers not only web resources about African American women, but print and electronic sources as well.

Antislavery Literature
"The goal of the Antislavery Literature Project is to increase public access to a body of literature crucial to understanding African American experience, US and hemispheric histories of slavery, and early human rights philosophies. These multilingual collections contribute to an educational consciousness of the role of many antislavery writers in creating contemporary concepts of freedom." "The Antislavery Literature Project was established in 2002 as a collaborative electronic publishing project in a major but under-studied area of American literature. The Project is based in the Arizona State University’s English department and works in cooperation with the EServer, located at Iowa State University. As an educational non-profit, the Project provides public access to the literature and history of the antislavery movement in the United States. It does so by research; production and annotation of electronic editions; and delivery of texts via the Internet. ... During 2005 [the Project] accomplished over 5,000 cumulative pages of digitization work, placing antislavery materials not previously available freely online." Includes poetry, prose fiction, slave narratives, tracts, essays, speeches, religious literature, travel accounts, children's literature, contemporary slavery and antislavery resources, news, and proslavery literature.

Black History (Newsbank)
(Find link under "Special Reports.") "In-depth perspectives on black culture, issues and events, along with profiles of famous figures and leaders. Includes primary source images from the slavery movement."

Black History Month (infoplease)
Includes "History and Timelines," "Special Features," and a section on 500 Notable African Americans [A-Z list], organized by categories such as government leaders and civil rights leaders.

Black Studies (prepared by Grace-Ellen McCrann, City College of New York)
Currently includes links to resources in 51 subject categories including Abolition, Civil Rights, The Freedman's Bureau, the Harlem Renaissance, Horseracing, Literature & Writing, Martin Luther King Jr., the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Slave Narratives, Statistics, Theatre, Tuskegee Airmen and the Underground Railroad.

Booker T. Washington Papers Online (University of Illinois Press)
"The Booker T. Washington Papers Online is a completely free and searchable web site designed to provide researchers worldwide with full access to the thousands of pages comprising this 14-volume printed work, originally published by the University of Illinois Press." Includes full-text images of the pages, a search mechanism, a separate database of images from the published volumes, and links to other resources.

Civil Rights. The Learning Page, Community Center (Library of Congress)
The Library of Congress has gathered more than forty online resources for students and teachers, including information about Jim Crow in America; Brown v. Board of Education; a timeline from slavery to Civil Rights; personal stories of "everyday" Civil Rights activists; and profiles of such notable African Americans as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Langston Hughes, and W.E.B. Du Bois (pictured). The site also offers lesson plans for grades 7-12.

Civil Rights Documentation Project (via CongressLink, The Dirksen Congressional Center)
An interactive, Web-based presentation with links to digitized historical materials and other Internet-based resources about civil rights legislation created by museums, historical societies, and government agencies.

Digital History ("using new technology to enhance teaching and research")
This is an educational and non-commercial site designed specifically for history teachers and their students, grades K-12 and college. It is supported by the Department of History and the College of Education at the University of Houston.

Handbook of Texas Online
Search the Handbook for many more biographies of African American Texans and additional information on topics of interest on African American history in Texas, such as African American churches, the Beaumont Riot of 1943, Juneteenth, and Slavery.

Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights
Available from the Thurgood Marshall Law Library, University of Maryland School of Law. "In conjunction with its strategic plan to enhance its civil rights collection in support of the School of Law's teaching and research mission, the Library has worked since 2001 to create a complete electronic record of United States Commission on Civil Rights publications held in the Library's collection and available on the USCCR Web site. The publications are made available over the Internet as page image presentations in PDF format. ... Publications are also searchable by keyword and accessible by date and title."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Newsbank)
(Find link under "Special Reports.") A retrospective of articles covering the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project (Stanford University)
The King Papers Project is a major research effort to assemble and disseminate historical information concerning Martin Luther King, Jr. and the social movements in which he participated and is one of only a few large-scale research ventures focusing on an African American. Items under "Publications" and "Additional Resources" provide bibliographical information on documents only. Items under "Popular Requests" are available online.

National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives' Prologue Magazine, Genealogy Notes, and Access to Archives Databases web site provide articles and documents for the researcher.

  • The Summer 1997 issue of Prologue Magazine (vol. 29, no. 2) is a special issue focusing on the use of federal records in African American historical research. Articles by NARA staff and other historians explore the depth and breadth of material in the Archives relative to African Americas. The issue examines the Civil War and Reconstruction, labor issues, civil rights, pictorial records, and research aids. The issue is out of print and not available for purchase, but all of the articles are online.
  • Genealogy Notes on "African American History" includes, among others, Special Issue on African American Research and Federal Records (summer 1997) and Researching African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1890: Buffalo Soldiers and Black Infantrymen (spring 2001)
  • Access to Archives Databases (AAD) web site: "Out of the nearly 200,000 data files in its holdings, NARA has selected approximately 475 of them for public searching through AAD. We selected these data because the records identify specific persons, geographic areas, organizations, and dates. The records cover a wide variety of civilian and military functions and have many genealogical, social, political, and economic research uses." (from " Getting Started Guide")

A Roadmap to African-American and Diversity Resources (ARAADR)
Created by Sherry DuPree, Santa Fe Community College Professor of Student Development Instruction (formerly SFCC Library User Services Coordinator). "Learn about African-American and Diversity Resource links that you can visit on the Internet. The sites offer a range of resources: connecting you to pages where you can access both primary and secondary documents, databases, archives, libraries, maps, images and more. The focus covers what is available for the United States with an emphasis on Florida and Central America. The links cover at least one of the following criteria; sites that offer resources at the secondary, college and university levels; sites that allow access to material without copyright restrictions on downloading and circulating materials in an educational setting; and sites from well-known government databases. Some sites will deal with world history, including England, Canada, Caribbean and Africa. ... All web sites have been approved by librarians and/or subject area specialists." Search by Library of Congress or Dewey call numbers areas, Library of Congress subject headings, countries, or timelines.

Theme Studies (National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places)
National Historic Landmarks are preferably identified through theme studies because they provide a comparative analysis of properties associated with a specific area of American history. Some theme studies are mandated by Congress, while others are determined by the National Park Service, and generally prepared under cooperative agreements or contracts with other governmental entities or private organizations. These theme studies are examples appropriate to the topic of African American History Month.

U.S. Society > African Americans (U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany)
An informative site compiled from various State Dept. and other government publications. Includes links to a number of "e-texts" such as The Amistad Revolt: an Historical Legacy of Sierra Leone and the United States (by Arthur Abraham) [PDF 21 pp.] and "Toward One America: A National Conversation on Race" (U.S. Society and Values [electronic journals of the U.S. Information Agency], v.2, no.3 (August 1997)) [PDF 45 pp.]


Education-Related Sites (Lesson Plans, Teacher Resources)

African Black History Teaching Resources (Smithsonian Education)
Smithsonian Education offers thematically arranged teaching resources from across the Smithsonian. These resources have been selected for their relevance to classroom curriculum and national education standards.

Culture & Change: Black History in America (Scholastic)
This comprehensive Web site includes activities for students in grades3 through 7. Sections include "Meet and Publish" (Rosa Parks, Melba Pattillo, and African-American Inventors (the top ten inventors)), "Read and Explore" an interactive timeline to learn more about African-American history, "Listen and Interview" for jazz history and an interview with Wynton Marsalis, and "More to Explore" with links to "Alabama and Civil Rights in the 1960s," "Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Legacy of a Leader," and "Our America: Civil War."

Celebrate Black History! (from Education World)
Updated January 2007. Includes a list of lessons plans, such as "A Black History Treasure Hunt" and "Activities Celebrate Achievements of African Americans," and a list of other links under "Additional Resources." The "Resources" section includes database resources, crafts, sounds, recipes, activities, games, and clip art.

Civil Rights. The Learning Page, Community Center (Library of Congress)
The Library of Congress has gathered more than forty online resources for students and teachers, including information about Jim Crow in America; Brown v. Board of Education; a timeline from slavery to Civil Rights; personal stories of "everyday" Civil Rights activists; and profiles of such notable African Americans as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Langston Hughes, and W.E.B. Du Bois. The site also offers lesson plans for grades 7-12.

Digital History ("using new technology to enhance teaching and research")
This is an educational and non-commercial site designed specifically for history teachers and their students, grades K-12 and college. Includes primary sources, an online textbook, historical maps, an interactive timeline, resource guides, and more. It is supported by the Department of History and the University of Houston.

The History Channel Classroom Study Guides (The History Channel)

The Learning Page. Lesson Plans (The Library of Congress)
This site includes dozens of teacher created, classroom tested lesson plans, on topics from U.S. history to civics to literature. Use American Memory collections for primary source documents. Lesson plans are indexed by Liberation Curriculum (from the PBS Teacher Source (Public Broadcasting Service)
Search "black history" for lesson plans for all grades/age levels and all activities. Examples of lesson plans include "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson" (which uses the life of legendary boxer Jack Johnson to examine the rampant racism of American society in the early 20th century), "Whites, Blacks, and the Blues" (which explores discrimination and prejudice and the distance between different races even as they intersect in relation to music).

A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. (National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places)
The NRHP commemorates Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and the historic places associated with the struggle for civil rights that captured the attention of the United States and the world. Includes "Lesson Plans" from "Teaching with Historic Places" that focus on the Civil Rights Movement.

See also Lesson Plan Sites: Social Studies (part of Lesson Plan Sites from Government Agencies)

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RamCat (Subject Choices)

In Library of Congress subject headings, the phrase "African American" is used as an adjective or a descriptor (for example: African American actors, African American authors, African American women). The plural form of the phrase -- "African Americans" -- is used for works on citizens of the United States of black African descent. Works on blacks who temporarily reside in the United States, such as aliens, students from abroad, etc., are entered under Blacks--United States. Works on blacks outside the United States are entered under Blacks--[place].

Performing a "Subject Browse" search on "African American" retrieves a list of subjects which begin with that phrase.

The same type of search, on "African Americans", will retrieve a list of subjects beginning with that phrase.

Use the "Guided Keyword Search" option to search for the phrases "African American" or "African Americans" which appear anywhere in the subject fields in RamCat, not just at the beginning e.g., "American drama--African American authors"). The results from such a search will be a list of titles, not organized in any way by subject.

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Databases

America: History and Life (ABC-CLIO) (for ASU affiliated patrons only)
This database covers American and Canadian history from prehistory to the present. Search by keyword or subject.

History Cooperative (RamPort database) (free)
"The History Cooperative is a pioneering nonprofit humanities resource offering top-level online history scholarship. Besides full text, the site also contains collateral content, including multimedia elements that could not be reproduced in the print versions of some articles." Includes links to tables of content and full text in the JSTOR database.

Issues & Controversies (from Facts on File [Facts.com]) (for ASU affiliated patrons only)
Search for topics relevant to African American history (e.g., affirmative action, slavery reparations). This database is "the authoritative online source of up-to-date, in-depth and objective information on the most prominent and hotly debated issues of the day." It "combines authoritative factual analysis, covering clear explanations of opposing points of view and numerous special features." Entries include pro and con issues, statistical snapshots, interviews with experts, links to additional relevant articles and editorials on the subject, maps and charts, and key news events.

For additional databases, see "Online Resources" on the Library tab in RamPort. For example, choose the subjects "History" or "Government, Law & Military." A smaller selection of databases can be found under "Online Resources for Visitors and Friends" from "Guest Resources" on the Library's home page. (These links cannot be accessed from off-campus.)

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Statistics (Facts & Figures)

African-American History Month: 50 Years of Change (February 2004) (Census Bureau)
A multimedia presentation from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Black History Month (infoplease)
Includes sections on demographics, economics, and education statistics.

Facts on the Black or African American Population (Census Bureau)
Includes information from the decennial censuses and the American Community Survey. Topics also cover social and economic characteristics, profiles, and news releases & multimedia.

Black History Month: February 2007 (Census Bureau)
(Facts for Features)  [PDF, 4 pp.]
Compiles statistics from multiple resources on the African American population, income and poverty, education, jobs, and veteran and active-duty personnel.

We the People: Black Population in the United States (Census Bureau)
A demographic, social and economic portrait of the more than 36 million people who identified themselves as black or African American in Census 2000. The special report also discusses differences between men and women within the black population at the national level. Issued August 2005.

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FDLP and Texas Depository logos Government Documents Home | Guides to Special Topics from Government Documents
Compiled: March 2004, by Janetta Paschal, Government Documents/Reference Librarian