African American History: Research Guides & Websites

Academic class, Roger Williams University, Nashville, 1899
Courtesy Library of Congress (00651765)

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

  • 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.
  • Google Cultural Institute: Black History and Culture 
    Google has gathered together a vast collection of more than 4,000 online primary sources including documents, photographs, and other artifacts that illustrate African American history.  One document, for example, is Frederick Douglass’s handwritten 1857 letter to his former owner. Another  shows the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, site of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” attack on Civil Rights marchers by Alabama State Troopers.
  • Legal Defense Fund (NAACP) web page
  • Library of Congress – Map Collections, 1500-2003
  • NAACP Online 
    Homepage of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
  • National Archives (Washington, D.C.)
  • 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


African Americans (General)

African American Women

African Americans to 1860

The Civil War Era:

African Americans, 1877-1900

African Americans, 1901-1945

African Americans, 1946-2000

African Americans in the 21st Century