African-American History

Welcome to the African-American History Research Guide


Click on the tabs below to find books, articles, primary sources and websites for use in the study of African American History.

If you need additional help, please contact the History Librarian or stop by the Reference Desk. You can also get help from our online reference service: Ask A Librarian.


  1. Books
  2. Databases
  3. Primary Sources / Websites

Finding Books

Use the COD Library's book catalog to find books & videos. You'll need a current library card to check out books.


I-Share allows COD students to borrow books from over 80 Illinois academic libraries. You must have a current COD library card, and create an account to request books from an I-Share library.

E-book Collections
Most books in these collections can also be located and accessed by searching in the Library's book catalog.

  • ebrary
  • Collection contains many History-related books. Many e-books can be viewed from your computer or downloaded to your e-book reader. You need to create an account to download e-books to your device.

  • EBSCO e-book collection
  • Collection includes some books on History. NOTE: Books can be viewed by single page on a computer, or, can be downloaded to an e-book reader. You'll be prompted to create an EBSCO account. The loan period for e-books is four hours. Books can be renewed after the initial loan period expires.

  • Humanities (ACLS) E-book Collection
  • This resource includes over 1500 full-text, cross-searchable books in the humanities selected by scholars for their continuing importance for research and teaching. Pages from this collection can be printed and emailed.

Reference Works

Reference works, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias are useful for learning about background information on a topic in History.

Please note that print reference books may be used while in the library only. Online reference books may be accessed from any on or off-campus computer. You'll need a library card to access online books and articles from off-campus.
Click on the links below to access the online book/website or record/description of the print book.



The Library subscribes to many databases that provide access to thousands of popular and credible, scholarly journals. Many databases provide access to full-text articles, while some provide information about the article only (citation). Request (for free!) through Interlibrary Loan copies of articles to which the Library doesn't have full-text access.

Databases are organized collections of information that you can search on a variety of fields, like title and author's name. iTunes is a database and so is Amazon. Even your contacts list in your phone is a type of mini database. The Library has databases of articles from newspapers, magazines and journals. We also have databases of streaming videos, music and e-books. The difference between our databases and iTunes or Amazon is that our stuff is free for you to use. You can browse the library's databases here:


Databases - Best Bets

  • Academic Search Complete
  • Multidisciplinary database covering a wide range of academic areas.

  • Academic OneFile
  • Multidisciplinary database covering a wide range of academic areas.

  • History Study Center
    Primary and secondary history collections providing access to rare British, American and world history sources, full text articles and reference materials. Includes multimedia sources.

  • Excellent source for credible scholarly, peer-reviewed articles. Articles in database were published between the early 1700s and between 1-5 years ago.

  • Project MUSE
  • Project MUSE offers full-text current and archival articles from 500+ scholarly journals from major university presses covering literature and criticism, history, performing arts, cultural studies, education, philosophy, political science, gender studies, and more. Updated continually.

Individual Journal Title List

Click here to view a list of History-related journals

Primary Sources

There are several areas where you can find primary source documents. Click on a link below to view lists of resources in each of these areas.

Reference Collection

General Collection
To locate sources in the General Collection:
  • Do an author search
    Anything written by a participant would be a primary source. For example, for a primary source about the war in Roman times, look up "Caesar, Julius" as an author and find his The Gallic War.

  • Do a title search
    Some primary sources have no known authors. For example, a known primary source for Egyptian religious rites is the Book of the Dead also known as the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Doing a title search shows the Library owns several copies.

  • Do a subject search
    Primary sources often contain one of these subheadings: sources, personal narratives, diaries, or correspondence. For example, look up Middle Ages and scan the results for those subheadings. Sometimes primary sources are found in broad collections with or without the subheadings above. Look up a broader heading and limit the search results to "source material" to find some useful collections.

Library Databases
  • Annals of American History : Writings and primary sources documents from more than 1,500 authors who made and analyzed American history through speeches, writings, memoirs, poems, and interviews.
  • Black Thought and Culture
    Black Thought and Culture contains 1,297 sources with 1,098 authors, covering the non-fiction published works of leading African Americans. Particular care has been taken to index this material so that it can be searched more thoroughly than ever before. Where possible the complete published non-fiction works are included, as well as interviews, journal articles, speeches, essays, pamphlets, letters and other fugitive material

  • CQ Historic Documents
    Published annually since 1972, the Historic Documents Series now contains 32 volumes of primary sources. Each volume includes approximately one hundred documents covering the most significant events of the year. These documents range from presidential speeches, international agreements, and Supreme Court decisions to U.S. governmental reports, scientific findings, and cultural discussions.

  • Discovering Collection : Includes overview essays, critical analysis, biographies, timelines and multimedia elements. In general these are not considered to be scholarly sources, except for the primary source material.
  • HarpWeek
    Full-text articles and images from the 1857-1912 Harper's Weekly magazine covering the Civil War through the Gilded Age periods of American history. From the Browse Categories page, select a topic such as "blacks" or "Civil War" to retrieve related articles.

  • History Study Center : Primary and secondary history collections providing access to British, American and world history sources, full text articles, maps, and reference materials among other types of resources.
  • Military and Government Collection : Although primarily concerned with U.S.history there are references to history and politics of other countries.
  • NBC Learn
    A collection of videos, historic newsreels, primary source documents, photographs from the NBC News archive. Browse by collection on left side of screen, note "African American Studies" collection.

Who can publish on the Internet? Anyone.

You may find a website by doing a web search or through a recommendation of another student. Before you use a website for your assignment, you should evaluate the webpage for credibility, reliability, authority and purpose. Check out the CRAP Test for more information on evaluating websites.

The following websites have been evaluated for their credibility.