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Research Guides & Websites: African American History

Regarding Websites:

Web research can be very useful and lead to much useful and important information. While every effort has been made to list only "reliable" sites, researchers should be aware that control of sites change (often without notice) from time to time and, thus, the reliability and point of view of the website may change (for better or worse). One of the best uses of web information is to locate good primary and secondary sources that should be directly examined. Websites also go out of existence, so, for scholarly work, they are not reliable sources, like a published work which, presumably, will always be available in some library (Library of Congress) for examination. Beware especially of quoting or otherwise relying upon unidentified opinions found on websites.


Basic guide to web research:

  1. Use your library BEFORE you start your web research. You will learn many terms that will be useful in your web research. You should read at least one good, broad secondary source on the subject before starting your research.

  2. Learn how to do web research. Google has a very good set of instructions. USE THEM!

  3. Know the site you are using. Find out who is responsible for it. An example of a very good site is the Avalon Project at the Yale Law School (use Google to find it.)

  4. Find the original printed source of the information given on the site. You may have to use your library sources or a research librarian to help you. Cite both the internet source and the printed source.


Major Research Guides and Resources--African American History 

Teacher Resources

Research Resources

  • Africana.com
    Scholarly portal with news, articles, information, and services both free online and for subscription fees. Main channels include Worldview, Lifestyle, Fast Track, Heritage, Art Scene, and Homefront. There are numerous advertisements for products, books, cd-rom's, and network services. Includes music, book, and movie reviews. According to the site, their mission is to gather together authoritative information on the African diaspora in an entertaining way. Includes search engines. 

  • Black Collegian Online
    Vibrant and well-designed online version of this well-known publication that focuses on education and career information for African American students. Includes full-text articles, plus a job bank, résumé services, African American issues, and many helpful features. Includes article archives dating back to February 1997. Highly recommended. See published review from C&RL News, back in June 2000.

  • Black Press USA
    Excellent online news service provides current national and local news articles on this website sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the Black Press. Billed as "your independent source of news for the African American community," the website includes links to Black Press online newspapers organized by state, a history section, press releases, and a search engine. A bit slow loading (as of 6/18/01), but highly recommended.

  • Ebony Online
    Abstracts (not full text) of selected articles and features from current issue only. Abstracts function as a sort of expanded table of contents meant to lead the online reader to subscribe or otherwise seek out the physical magazine to continue reading the article of interest. No archived issues or articles, no search engine, no full table of contents or index.

  • Freedom's Journal
    Full text digitized copies of the nation's first African American owned and operated newspaper, 1827-1829. The first 20 issues are currently (6/00) available free online, with the remaining 80 some issues scheduled to follow. Adobe Acrobat reader necessary, and available online for downloading if needed. From the State Historical Society of Wisconsin Library, a leader in the collection, preservation, and promotion of African American periodicals.

  • Journal of Blacks in Higher Education *
    Complete online full-text, 1993-1997. Includes powerful search engine; from J-Stor.
  • Journal of Black Studies *
    Complete full-text facsimiles of this important core journal in African American and African studies. Coverage is 1970-1996; includes powerful search engine. From J-Stor.
  • Vibe Online
    Online version of this well-known youth-oriented music and culture magazine. Loaded with graphics, advertisements, illustrations, and articles.

  • Western Journal of Black Studies
    Online index to this well-known literary research journal; includes links to the reference sections of articles from 1977-present. Some sections are available to online subscribers only; subscriptions available to individuals for a fee. Copies of this journal, 1997-present, are available


OTHER NOTABLE RESOURCES


  • African American Women Writers
    Exemplary online resource presents text and images from the renowned Schomburg Center on the topic of African American women writers of the 19th century. Contents are searchable by title, author, and by literary genre (poetry, essays, etc.). Also includes a number of accompanying essays.

  • Africans in America
    Companion website to the PBS 4-part documentary, covering the years 1450 through 1865. Includes individual online chapters for various sets of years, with narrative text, maps, illustrations, and other resources. Includes student and teacher guides, plus information about the documentary series.
  • Digital Schomburg: Images of African Americans from the 19th Century
    One of many noteworthy projects from the Schomburg Center, this digital photo album is searchable by broad category (such as "family," "education," "civil war," or by keywords. Also included are brief essays that give an introduction to the photographs, as well as the broader topic of searching the past.

  • Flashbacks: African American Education
    From the archives of the Atlantic Monthly magazine, historic essays from W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington on the topic of African American education. Also includes Bernard W. Harleston's 1965 essay "Higher Education for the Negro," Claude M. Steele's 1992 "Race and the Schooling of Black Americans," and Nicholas Lemann's 1993 "Philadelphia: Black Nationalism on Campus."

  • Flashbacks: Black History, American History
    More from the archives of the Atlantic Monthly, a number of important, full-text essays including Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "The Negro is your brother" (popularly known as the "Letter from Birmingham Jail"), a number of essay debates between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois (including "The Awakening of the Negro," "Strivings of the Negro People," and others), plus an interview with Du Bois.

  • Flight to Freedom
    Interesting interactive "game" allows users to "experience" the escape from pre-Civil War slavery, through the online personal narratives of a number of escaped slaves and other prominent individuals. Developed by Bowdoin history professor Dr. Patrick Rael and the Bowdoin Educational Technology Center. An unusual and unique web-based teaching tool.

  • The African American Coal Miner Information Center
    This site provides information on African American coal miners and coal mining families. It also includes a synopsis of African American coal mining experience and a growing list of miners in alphabetical order by last name, many with the place of birth.

  • The Blue Highway
    Website and narrative devoted to the country blues developed way back in 1995 by web pioneer Curtis Hewston. Now includes a chat room, search engine, sound files, and more. Musicians profiled include Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, B.B.King, Buddy Guy, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Bukka White, and many others.


African Americans (General)


African American Women


African Americans to 1860

The Civil War Era:

  • History of Colored Troops in the American Civil War

African Americans, 1877-1900


African Americans, 1901-1945


African Americans, 1946-2000

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African Americans in the 21st Century

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