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.
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.
Most books in these collections can also be located and accessed by searching in the Library's book catalog.
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
- Humanities (ACLS) 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.
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, 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 African-American Almanac
Reference E185.5 .A4
- African-American Athletes
Reference GV697.A1 A196 2003
- African Americans in the Visual Arts
Reference N6538.N5 O86 2003
- African American Culture
Reference E185 .A2525 1996
- Afro-American Writers Before the Harlem Renaissance
Reference PN451 .D5 v.50 1986
- Atlas of Slavery
Reference HT861 .W33 2006
- Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007
Reference E185.96 .B526 See also the companion web site.
- Black Literature Criticism : Excerpts from Criticism of the Most Significant Works of Black Authors over the Past 200 Years
Reference PS 153 .N5 B556 1992
- Black Women in America
General E185.86 .B542 2005
- Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century
Reference E185.86 .M637 2014
- Civil Rights in the United States
Reference E184.A1 C47 2000
- Contemporary Black Biography
Reference E185.96 .C66
- Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery
Reference E441 .D53 1988
- Dictionary of the Black Theatre : Broadway, off-Broadway, and Selected Harlem Theatre
Reference PN 2270 .A35 W64 1983
- Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History : The Black Experience in the Americas
Reference E185 .E54 2006
- Encyclopedia of American Race Riots. e-book
- The Encyclopedia of Civil Rights in America
Reference E185.61 .E544 1998
- Encyclopedia of Race and Racism
Reference E184.A1 E584 2008
- Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society
Reference HT1521 .E63 2008
- Encyclopedia of the American Civil War : A Political, Social, and Military History
Reference E468 .E53 2000
- Freedom Facts and Firsts : 400 years of the African American Civil Rights Experience - e-book
- The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Twenty-First Century. e-book
- The Harlem Renaissance : a Gale Critical Companion
Reference PS153.N5 H245 2003
- Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery
Reference HT861 .H57 1997
- Historical Statistics of Black America
Reference E185 .H543
- Notable Black American Men
Reference E185.86 .N68 1999
- Oxford Research Encyclopedia Online - American History
- Who We Are: Blacks
Reference E185.615 .W456
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: http://www.codlrc.org/databases
Databases - Best Bets
- Academic Search Complete
- Academic OneFile
- 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.
- Project MUSE
Multidisciplinary database covering a wide range of academic areas.
Multidisciplinary database covering a wide range of academic areas.
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 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
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.
- Early Civilizations in the Americas (v.3)
Reference E 61 .B46
- United States Supreme Court Reports
Reference KF 101 .U584
- Annals of America
General E 173 .A793 & Online
- Great Debates in American History : From the Debates in the British Parliament on the Colonial Stamp Act (1764-1765) to Debates in Congress at the Close of the Taft Administration (1764-1913)
General E 173 .M64
- Historic Documents on the Presidency : 1776-1989
General JK511 .H57 1989
- The World's Best Essays
General PN 6141 .B8 1971
- The World's Best Orations
General PN 6121 .B85 1970
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.
- 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.
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.
- African American Odyssey
Published by the Library of Congress, this site contains six digital collections related to African Americans and their experiences, including collections on slavery, baseball, citizenship and the papers of Frederick Douglas.
- NEW Behind the Veil - Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South
- Brown v. Board of Education: Digital Archive
Find images, court cases, statistics, segregation issues, oral histories and oral arguments related to Brown v. Board do Education.
- The Citenzens' Council
Newspaper published between 1955 and 1961 that expresses anti-integration sentiments.
- Civil Rights Digital Library
This collection contains unedited news film from several sources, including television stations WSB, WALB, as well as teaching resources.
- Civil Rights Documentation Project
Operated by the University of Southern Mississippi, this site contains several civil rights oral histories.
- Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive
"The Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive includes a selection of digitized photographs, letters, diaries, and other documents. Oral history transcripts are also available, as well as finding aids for manuscript collections."
- Civil Rights Oral History Collection - Washington State University
This collection contains several oral histories from residents of Washington state.
- Freedom Summer: Wisconsin Historical Society
Over 30,000 primary source documents related to the 1964 Freedom Summer Project. Included in this resource is an Historical Essay that provides an overview and context for the events. Documents include "...official records of organizations, personal papers of movement leaders, letters, racist propaganda, diaries, images, newsletters and more."
- The Geography of Slavery in Virginia
"The Geography of Slavery in Virginia is a digital collection of advertisements for runaway and captured slaves and servants in 18th- and 19th-century Virginia newspapers. Building on the rich descriptions of individual slaves and servants in the ads, the project offers a personal, geographical and documentary context for the study of slavery in Virginia, from colonial times to the Civil War."
- Greensboro Sit-Ins: Launch of a Civil Rights Movement
This site "... contains almost 100 audio clips from dozens of hours of recordings with sit-in participants, with interviews from News & Record writer Jim Schlosser, and the Greensboro Public Library."
- The HistoryMakers
The HistoryMakers records African American oral histories. The collection contains over 2000 online biographies, 30,000 photographic images, and 8,000 hours of videotaped interviews.
- I was a Negro in the South for 30 Days-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A white reporter for the Post-Gazette posed as a black man to experience and record living under Jim Crow.
- Malcolm X, a Research Site
This site was created and is maintained by Abdul Alkalimat, Department of African American Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Contains a wide span of information regarding Malcolm X, including bibliographies, Chronology of Malcolm X and other biographical information, images, and transcripts of letters written by the civil rights leader.
- Malcolm X Project at Columbia University
Site contains archival footage related to Malcolm X, as well as bibliographies, government documents, and sound recordings.
- March on Washington - PBS American Experience
This website has videos, images, sound recordings & music, and newspaper excerpts. Also included are several primary source documents featuring SNCC John Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, and many others.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute
Noted Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson is the founding director of the King Institute. The site includes the written papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as photo galleries, speeches, sermons, and multimedia resources.
- Mississippi Freedom Summer Project 1964 Digital Collection
Over 700 primary source documents in .pdf format related to the Freedom Summer.
- United States Department of Justice Investigation of Recent Allegations Regarding the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The June, 2000 Federal Government report that addresses questions regarding the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement
The U.S. Park Service's website that contains a list and description of historic sites related to the Civil Rights Movement.
Created by Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, this collection of oral histories contain over 175 hours of recordings and 10,000 pages of interview transcripts from interviews of those who lived in the Jim Crow south.