A User’s Guide to BlackPast.org

Welcome to BlackPast.org, the largest free and unrestricted reference center on African American and Global African History currently on the Internet.  This website has over 10,000 pages reflecting the vast array of information on the history of people of African ancestry.  This User’s Guide is designed to help you access this information as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The fastest way to find specific information on BlackPast.org is to type in a name in the Search Bar on the upper left corner of the homepage.  For your convenience the space bar appears on every page of BlackPast.org.  Type in Frederick Douglass, for example.  The website search engine will then list every entry on the site related to Frederick Douglass.   If you want to narrow your search please click the Advanced Search button on the search results page. The search results page appears after a search is performed from the search box in the upper left hand corner of the web site.

BlackPast.org has three major divisions:

African American History (AAH)

–All sections in this division focus on the historical experiences of African Americans, that is, persons of African ancestry in the United States.

African American History in the West (AAW)–This division brings together all of the information on the website related to African Americans who have lived in the nineteen states that straddle or are west of the 100th meridian.  See the map to the right.

Global African History (GAH)–All sections in this division address the history of people of African ancestry who live outside the United States and its territories.

Each division has similar information that appears as a list in the left column of every page (except the opening page).  For example, all have Bibliographies, Online Encyclopedia, Major Speeches, Timelines, and Primary Documents that are relevant to their divisions.  They also have a section called Research Guides and Websites that link to relevant sources off the website. Some features, however, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, are specific to AAH and AAW.  The feature called Perspectives allows scholars from around the world to explore topics of interest to the BlackPast.org audience.

BlackPast.org also has Special Features found only on the opening page.  They include BlackPast.org By the Numbers, 101 African American Firsts, Major Black Officeholders Since 1641, the Barack Obama Page, and the BlackPast.org Blog Roll.

At the bottom of the home page you will find links to other local, state, and national organizations that share an interest in black history including the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM), and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

BlackPast.org includes:

  1. An online encyclopedia featuring nearly 3,000 entries which describe people, places and events in global African history written by more than 350 academic, independent and student historians.  Their contributions make BlackPast.org one of the largest online encyclopedias devoted exclusively to the history of people of African ancestry wherever they are found.
  2. The complete text of nearly 300 major speeches by African Americans from 1789 to today.
  3. More than 140 full text primary documents—court decisions, laws, organizational statements, treaties, government reports and executive orders which help describe the African American past.
  4. Nine major timelines that show the history of people of African ancestry from 5,000 B.C.E. to today.
  5. Nine bibliographies listing the more than 5,000 major books on African American history categorized by author, title, subject, and date of publication.
  6. Six “Gateway” Pages with links to 50 digital archive collections, 100 museums and research centers, 12 genealogical research websites and over 200 other website resources on African American history, African American history in the West and Global African History.
  7. Perspectives Online Magazine which features commentary of important, but little known events in black history often written by the individuals who participated in or witnessed them.  Many of these accounts are instant primary sources.

BlackPast.org is constantly adding new information so please return often.  We welcome your suggestions for improvement.  If you have suggestions please click here:  suggestions@blackpast.org.

Welcome to BlackPast.org.