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Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection: African American Studies: Research Guide

African American Research Guide

African American Studies: Research Guide

African American Studies: Research Guide


This research guide lists useful resources (such as books, archives, databases, and web sites) to help you get started researching a topic related to African American studies. Please note that this is not the complete list of resources in this area which the Blockson Afro-American Collection owns or has access to.



Use these databases to locate articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers. In addition, book chapters, conference proceedings, dissertations, research reports, and other materials may be used. Since African American Studies is interdisciplinary and covers various subjects, consider searching across disciplines. Additional databases can be located at All Research Databases. See also, Research Guides, such as African American Studies, and  History.

Academic Search Premier

This database indexes scholarly articles in the social sciences, business, humanities, general science, multi-cultural studies, and education.

Accessible Archives

Accessible Archives provides researchers with primary and secondary source materials concerning American history in the 18th and 19th centuries. For scholars working particularly on projects dealing with African American history, the database holds a collection of 19th century African American newspapers.

African American Experience

Coverage includes history, politics, legal and constitutional issues, business, media, music, literature and more.

African American Music Reference

Coverage includes text reference, biographies, chronologies, sheet music, images, lyrics, liner notes, and discographies documenting the diverse history and culture of the African American experience through music.

African American Newspapers, 1827-1998

Created in partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Kansas State Historical Society and the Library of Congress, this resource provides online access to approximately 270 African American newspapers.

The African Writers Series

The African Writers Series provides fiction, poetry, drama and non-fictional prose, including works by Chinua Achebe, Ama Ata Aidoo, Steve Biko, Buchi Emecheta, Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, Nelson Mandela, Christopher Okigbo, and Okot.

America: History and Life

Provides abstracts of scholarly literature on the history of the United States and Canada from prehistoric times to the present

 (See Historical Abstracts for non-North American coverage)



Offers index to finding aids and other descriptive information about the holdings of manuscript and archival collections in libraries and research institutions throughout the world.

Black Abolitionist Papers

The contents include correspondence, speeches, sermons, and lectures by African Americans actively involved in the movement.

Black Drama Second Edition

It provides access to full text of plays written by dramatists from Africa, the Caribbean, and North America. It also offers detailed information about productions, theaters, production companies, and other ephemera related to the plays. In addition the database includes select playbills and production photographs.

Black Historical Newspapers

Cover-to-cover article and page images of Atlanta Daily World (1931-2003), The Baltimore Afro-American (1893-1988), Chicago Defender (1910-1975), New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993), Philadelphia Tribune (1912-2001), and Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002)

Black Literature Index

Provides citations to fiction, poetry and literary reviews, that appeared in Black owned and edited newspapers published in the United States from 1827-1940.

Black Short Fiction and Folklore

Offers the most comprehensive collection yet created of stories from African and the African Diaspora.

Black Studies Center

Black Studies Center provides current and historical material on African Americans, Africa, and the African Diaspora. It includes essays, timelines, newspaper articles, video clips, and images. It combines several resources: the Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, International Index of Black Periodicals (IIBP), Black Literature Index, and The Chicago Defender.

Black Thought and Culture

Black Thought and Culture provides approximately 100,000 pages of books, essays, articles, speeches, and interviews written by Black leaders from the earliest times to the present.  Included in the collection are the works of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the full run of the Black Panther newspaper.

Ethnic Newswatch

This database offers full-text collection of newspapers, magazines and journals of the contemporary ethnic, minority and native press.

Google Scholar

Use to find books, book chapters and articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles freely available on the web.

Historical Abstracts

Historical Abstracts offers abstracts of scholarly literature on the world other than North America, 1450 to present. See America: History and Life for North American coverage.

International Index to Black Periodicals

Coverage is international in scope and multidisciplinary, spanning cultural, economic, historical, religious, social, and political issues of vital importance to the Black Studies discipline.

Oral History Online

The database offers “the most comprehensive online index of oral history collections in English, with access to full text, audio, video, or bibliographic citations for more than 2,000 English oral history collections from all over the world. The narratives cover thousands of subjects from the late 19th Century to present, including civil rights and race relations, labor history, African American history… and more.”

Oxford African American Studies Center

OAASC provides access to scholarly articles, biographies, primary sources with commentaries, primary sources, subject entries, film clips, images, maps, charts, tables, web sites, and timelines.

The Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives, 1960 to 1974

This database offers researchers with primary and secondary sources related to the movements and personalities of the 1960s.

Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice, 1490-2007

This database is a "portal for slavery and abolition studies, bringing together documents and collections covering an extensive time period 1490-2007, from libraries and archives across the Atlantic world. Close attention is being given to the varieties of slavery, the legacy of slavery, the social justice perspective and the continued existence of slavery today."

Primary Sources Online

Use these to find historical documents such as, autobiographies, firsthand accounts, speeches, interviews, diaries, and letters.

African American Newspapers: The 19th Century

American Memory from the Library of Congress
Digitized documents, rare books, manuscripts, pamphlets, photographs, sound recordings, slave narratives, and other collections


Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
"Primary resources for the study of southern history, literature, and culture... "


Making of America (University of Michigan)

"Making of America (MoA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction... "

Manuscript and Archival Collections at Temple University Libraries

Temple University Libraries – Digital Collections

Offers access to Temple University Libraries' primary historical and cultural resources. For example, from the Blockson Collection, you will find The William Still papers, which contains letters, photographs, and pamphlets, and  John W. Mosley Photographs, which includes a selection of images, documenting African American life in and around Philadelphia during the mid-20th century.

Special Collections Department (Temple University Libraries)

Urban Archives (Temple University Libraries)


Other Philadelphia Area Resources for manuscripts and archival collections

African American Museum in Philadelphia

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

"Even before the merger with the Balch Institute, the Historical Society had significant holdings related to ethnic and immigrant history, particularly regarding African Americans ..."

Library Company of Philadelphia

Biographical Resources (Print and Online)

African American Biographical Database

Biographical profiles, full-text sketches and photographs of prominent African Americans from all walks of life between1790-1950.

African American national biography. 12vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013

American National Biography

Contemporary black biography: profiles from the international black community. 10 vol. Detroit: Gale,1992.

Dictionary of American Negro Biography. New York: Norton, 1982. No living persons included, cutoff date 1970.
Men of Mark: eminent, progressive, and rising. Cleveland, Ohio: G.M. Rewell & Co., 1887.

Who's who in colored America: a biographical dictionary of notable living persons of African descent in America, 1929-   New York: Who’s Who in Colored America Corp., 1929. 

Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Handbooks, Etc. (Print and Online)

African Americans in the media today: an encyclopedia. 2 vols. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2007.

Africana: the encyclopedia of the African and African American experience. New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999.

Black firsts: 4, 000 ground-breaking and pioneering events. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 2003.
Black literature criticism. 3vols. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992.
Encyclopedia of African-American culture and history: the Black experience in the Americas. 6 vols. Detroit: Macmillan Library Reference, 2006.

Encyclopedia of African American education. 2 vols. Thousand Oaks: SAGE, 2010.

Encyclopedia of African American popular culture. 4 vols.  Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2011.

Encyclopedia of African American society. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005.

Encyclopedia of American race riots. 2 vols. Westport: Greenwood press, 2007.

Encyclopedia of American Studies

Encyclopedia of the great Black migration. 3 vols. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2006.

Encyclopedia of slave resistance and rebellion. 2 vols. Westport: Greenwood press, 2007.

The Greenwood encyclopedia of African American civil rights: from emancipation to the twenty-first century. 2 vols. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2003.
Milestone documents in African American history: exploring the essential primary sources. 4 vols. Dallas: Schlager Group, 2010.

My soul looks back, 'less I forget: a collection of quotations by people of color. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.
Negro year book: an annual encyclopedia of the Negro, 1918-. Tuskegee: Negro year Book Pub.
Organizing Black America: an encyclopedia of African American associations. New York: Garland Pub., 2001.

Oxford African American Studies Center

Underground Railroad: an encyclopedia of people, places, and operations. 2 vols. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2008.

World of a slave: encyclopedia of the material life of slaves in the United States. Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2011.

Blockson, Charles L. A commented bibliography of one hundred and one influential books by and about people of African descent, 1556-1982: a collector's choice. Amsterdam: Gerits & Sons, 1989.
Ham, Debra Newman. Black history: a guide to civilian records in the National Archives. Washington, D.C.: National Archives Trust Fund Board, General Services Administration, 1984.
Hodge, Ruth E. Guide to African American resources at the Pennsylvania State Archives. Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2000.
Igoe, Lynn. 250 years of Afro-American art: an annotated bibliography. New York: Bowker, 1981.
Moebs, Thomas Truxtun. Black soldiers - black sailors - black ink: research guide on African Americans in U.S. military history, 1526-1900. Chesapeake Bay: Moebs Pub. Co.,1994.
Newman, Richard. Black access: a bibliography of Afro-American bibliographies. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1984.

Porter, Dorothy Burnett. The Negro in the United States: a selected bibliography. Washington: Library of Congress, 1970.
Sims-Wood, Janet L. The Progress of Afro-American women: a selected bibliography and resource guide. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980.
Work, Monroe Nathan. A bibliography of the Negro in Africa and America. New York: Argosy-Antiquarian, 1965.


Core List of Works on the History, Sociology, and Culture of Blacks

Aptheker, Herbert. Negro slave revolts in the United States, 1526-1860. New York: International Publishers, 1939.
Blassingame, John W. The slave community: plantation life in the antebellum South. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972.
Bond, Horace Mann. Negro education in Alabama: a study in cotton and steel. Washington, D.C.: The Associated Publishers, 1939.
Cox, Oliver Cromwell. Caste, class & race: a study in social dynamics. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1948.
Davis, Allison. Deep South: a social anthropological study of caste and race. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1941.
Drake, St. Claire, and Horace R. Cayton. Black metropolis: a study of Negro life in a northern city. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1945.
Dubois, W.E.B. The Philadelphia Negro: a social study. Philadelphia: Published for the university, 1899.
_____________. The souls of black folk: essays and sketches. Chicago: A.C. McClurg, 1903.
Franklin, John Hope. From slavery to freedom: a history of Negro Americans. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1988.

Frazier, Edward Franklin. The Negro family in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966.
Genovese, Eugene D. Roll, Jordan, roll: the world the slaves made. New York: Vintage Books, 1976.
Greene, Lorenzo Johnston. The Negro in colonial New England. New York: Atheneum,1968.
Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith, eds. All the women are white, all the blacks are men, but some of us are brave: Black women's studies. Old Westbury, N.Y.: Feminist Press, 1982.
Hill, Robert A., ed. The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association papers. 11 vols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983-1990.
James, C.L.R. (Cyril Lionel Robert). The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. New York: Vintage Books, 1963.
Jordan, Winthrop D. White over black: American attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812. Chapel Hill: N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1968.
Levine, Lawrence W. Black culture and black consciousness: Afro-American folk thought from slavery to freedom. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.
Locke, Alain. The New Negro. New York: Atheneum, 1968.
Logan, Rayford Whittingham. The Negro in American life and thought: the nadir, 1877-1901. New York: Dial Press, 1954.
Myrdal, Gunnar. An American dilemma: the Negro problem and modern democracy. New York: Harper, 1944.
Painter, Nell Irvin. Exodusters: Black migration to Kansas after Reconstruction. New York: Knopf, 1977.
Quarles, Benjamin. The Negro in the American Revolution. Chapel Hill: N.C. University of North Carolina Press, 1961.
Raboteau, Albert J. Slave religion: the "invisible institution" in the Antebellum South. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
Redding, J. Saunders. To make a poet Black. Chapel Hill: UNC Press,1939.
Stampp, Kenneth M. The peculiar institution: slavery in the ante-bellum South. New York: Knopf, 1956.

Stuckey, Sterling. Slave culture: nationalist theory and the foundations of black America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.