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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 2015, 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 Members of the United States Congress: 1789-2001
A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report for Congress, prepared by Mildred L. Amer in July 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
A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report for Congress, prepared by Mildred L. Amer in 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
A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report for Congress, prepared by Mildred L. Amer in 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. Themed Resources (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 6-12.

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.

History by Topic - Black History (The History Channel)
Collections of articles, video clips, pictures and speeches, by, on and about the achievements some of the most prominent figures of the African American struggle in U.S. history, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and many more.

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 (National Archives)
Use the National Archives’s online research tools to locate records and information about records pertaining to African American heritage. See specific resources listed below for additional information abou African-American research and accessing records at NARA:

  • African-American History and Federal Records - special issue of NARA’s Prologue’s magazine, focusing on the use of federal records in African American historical research. Sixteen articles (all available for free online) by NARA staff and other historians explore the depth and breadth of material in the National Archives relative to African Americans. This issue examines the Civil War and Reconstruction, labor issues, civil rights, pictorial records, and research aids.
  • Electronic Records Relating to Civil Rights This reference report provides an overview of some of the electronic data records in the custody of the National Archives that pertain to civil rights in the United States, including data related to affirmative action, discriminatory practices, sexual harassment, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Researchers may order copies of these computerized data files on removable media for a cost-recovery fee and analyze the records directly, using whatever hardware and software available to them.
  • The Freedmen’s Bureau, 1865-1872 - In the years following the Civil War, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen’s Bureau) provided assistance to tens of thousands of former slaves and impoverished whites in the Southern States and the District of Columbia. The records left by the Freedmen’s Bureau through its work between 1865 and 1872 constitute the richest and most extensive documentary source available for investigating the African American experience in the post-Civil War and Reconstruction eras.

African American Heritage (National Park Service)
The National Park Service celebrates African American Heritage throughout the year. Visit a multitude of park sites dedicated to African American history and culture. View Museum exhibits, go on a travel itinerary, or read indepth histories and interviews of famous African Americans and how they shaped the United States.

African American National History Month (National Register of Historic Places)
The National Register of Historic Places is pleased to promote awareness of and appreciation for the historical accomplishments of African Americans during African American History Month. As part of the celebration, this site showcases historic properties listed in the National Register, National Register publications, and National Park units commemorating the events and people, the designs and achievements that help illustrate African American contributions to American history.

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.

African American History Memory Project (Library of Congress)
Includes 16 collections on African American history, some of which are listed below.

  • 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 Project
“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. 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.

Black History (Newsbank)
“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.

Civil Rights Documentation Project (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. Relevant primary source: Civil Rights Voices

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Newsbank)
A retrospective of articles covering the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Handbook of Texas Online 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.”

History by Topic - Black History (The History Channel)
Collections of articles, video clips, and pictures highlighting some of the most significant events of the African American struggle in U.S. history, such as the Birmingham church bombing, the integration of Central High School, the Greensboro sit-in, and the March on Washington.

King Resources The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute (Stanford University)
The King Institute provides access to thousands of documents, photographs and publications about the modern African American Freedom Struggle. Use this page to navigate to resources about King’s life and work and the larger movements of the era.

Rediscovering Black History: Blogs Relating to the African-American Experience (National Archives)
The blog of the Black History Guide, sharing records relating to the African American experience at the National Archives.

Say It Plain, Say It Loud: A Century of Great African American Speeches (American Radio Works, American Public Media)
Public speech making has played a powerful role in the long struggle by African Americans for equal rights. This collection, for the ear and the eye, highlights speeches by an eclectic mix of black leaders. Their impassioned, eloquent words continue to affect the ideas of a nation and the direction of history.

Theme Studies (National Historical Landmarks Program)
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. 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 different resources and web sites covering background information, original documents, multimedia files and statistics.


 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 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 (Education World)
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. Themed Resources (Library of Congress)
Explore the fight for voting rights as well as the racial history of the United States in sports and schools. Study maps, baseball cards and political cartoons as well as pamphlets, legal documents, poetry, music, and the personal correspondence and oral histories of the famous and the ordinary. The site also offers lesson plans for grades 6-12.

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. The section developed to support teachers provides access to modules about American history, classroom handouts and fact sheets, lesson plans, quizzes, and tools to analyze primary sources. It is supported by the Department of History and the College of Education at the University of Houston.

The History Channel Classroom Study Guides (The History Channel)
History Classroom provides these free curriculum resources for middle and high school teachers. All study guides listed below pertain to Black History:

Lesson Plans (The Library of Congress)
Teacher-created, classroom-tested lesson plans on African American history using primary sources from the Library of Congress.

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 targeted 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 with Full Text (EBSCOhost) (ASU authorized users only)
This database covers American and Canadian history from prehistory to the present. Search by keyword or subject.

Issues & Controversies (from Facts on File [Facts.com]) (ASU authorized users 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.

Additional databases can be found under the subject areas of “History”, or “Political Science, Philosophy, Law”.

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 Statistics (Facts & Figures)

The Black Population: 2010 (Census Bureau)
This report provides a portrait of the Black population in the United States and discusses its distribution at the national level and at lower levels of geography.

Black History Month: February 2015 (Census Bureau)
Yearly compilation of statistics from the Census Bureau’s demographic and economic subject areas on the African American population, including education, number of veterans, voting, income, poverty and health insurance, family and children, and jobs.

Black or African American Populations (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Presents health-related statistical information about African Americans and provides examples of important health disparities between African Americans and other racial and ethnic populations.

FastStats: Health of Black or African American non-Hispanic Population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Provides quick access to statistics on topics of public health importance to the Afican American population. Links are provided to publications that include the statistics presented, to sources of more data, and to related web pages.

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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
Updated: July 2015, by Antonella Ward, Multimedia Support Librarian