African American Studies

This is a selective guide to library and other resources on African Americans.

Subject Headings

Representative subject headings for locating books include the following:

  • African American authors
  • African American families
  • African American gays
  • African American women authors
  • African Americans crimes against
  • African Americans history
  • African Americans in television broadcasting
  • African Americans relations with Jews


Reference Works

African American Women Playwrights: A Research Guide. 1999.

Guide to the work of ten African American women playwrights. Mugar PS153 N5 G29 1999

American Immigrant Cultures: Builders of a Nations. 2 vols. 1997.

Encyclopedic essays on 161 non-indigenous cultural groups in the United States, including African Muslims, Ethiopians and Eritreans, Haitians, Igbo, and Yoruba. Mugar Ref. X E184 A1 A63448 1997

Chronology of African-American History. 1991.

Chronologically arranged sourcebook containing factual information on the African-American cultural experience. Mugar Ref. X E185 H64 1991

The Columbia Guide to Contemporary African American Fiction. 2005.

Contains an overview of African American literary history from 1970 to 2000 and 160+ alphabetically arranged entries for authors, literary movements and critical theories. Mugar PS374 N4 D533 2005

The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature.


Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights. 1992.

Contains 800+ short articles on individuals, organizations, events, and court cases focusing on the period since Emancipation. Mugar Ref. X E185.61 E54 1992

Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History. 5 vols. 1996.

Contains 220 entries on the African-American experience from 1619 to the present, including biographies, events, historical eras, legal cases, and areas of cultural achievement. Extensive appendix materials include tables, charts, and statistical data. Mugar Ref. X E185 E54 1996

Encyclopedia of African American History 1619 – 1895. 3 vols. 2006.

From “Ableman v. Booth” to “Wright, Henry C.,” this encyclopedia covers the period from 1619 to the death of Frederick Douglass in 1895. Mugar Ref. X E185 E545 2006.

Encyclopedia of American Race Riots. 2 vols. 2007.

From “accommodationism” to “York (Pennsylvania) Riots of 1969,” the 250+ entries in this work offer “interpretive accounts of collective violence involving black and white Americans from the Civil War through the early twenty-first century.” The encyclopedia includes 23 primary documents, a brief historiography of race riots, and an extensive bibliography. Mugar Ref. X E184 A1 E573 2007.

Encyclopedia of the Harlem Literary Renaissance. 2006.

Contains 800+ concise alphabetically arranged entries on the critics, editors, periodicals, publishers, works, and writers of the Harlem Renaissance. The work also includes a map of Harlem, a chronology, and a selected bibliography of works by Harlem Renaissance writers. Mugar Ref. X PS153 N5 B675 2006

Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. 2003.

Includes 370+ alphabetically arranged entries on the Harlem renaissance period of African American history, a chronology, a bibliography, and a list of sources for further reading, listening, and viewing. Mugar Ref. X PS153 N5 A24 2003

Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society. 3 vols. 2008.

“Presents a comprehensive look at the role race and ethnicity play in society and in our daily lives. Offers informative coverage of intergroup relations in the United States and the comparative examination of race and ethnicity worldwide. Containing nearly 600 entries, this resource provides a foundation to understanding as well as researching racial and ethnic diversity from a multidisciplinary perspective.” Mugar Ref. X HT1521 E63 2008.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Folklore. 3 vols. 2006.

From “Abakwa” to “Zydeco,” the 700 entries cover African American folk culture, folklore scholars, foods, material culture, music, religion, and more. An appendix lists folklife programs, cultural centers, museums, and archives for African American folklore. Mugar Ref. X GR111 A47 G74 2006

The Harlem Renaissance: A Gale Critical Companion. 3 vols. 2003

Volume 1 discusses background information; social, economic, and political factors; publishing and
periodicals; performing arts; and the visual arts. Volumes 2 and 3 profile eleven male and twenty-two female writers. Mugar PS153 N5 H245 2003

Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. 1980.

Contains lengthy histories of ethnic groups in the U.S. from Acadians to Zoroastrians, as well as entries on subjects such as prejudice and discrimination. Mugar Ref. X E184 A1 H35

Historical Dictionary of African-American Television. 2006.

Alphabetically arranged entries on African-American performers, programs and genres from the 1950s to 2004. Includes a chronology, a list of black Emmy Award winners, Series Rankings and Ratings, and a bibliography that includes web sites. Mugar Ref. X PN1992.8 A34 F43 2006

The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. 1997.

A compendium of articles on plot summaries, authors, critics, social movements, artistic
developments, and characters important in African American literature. Mugar Ref. X PS153 N5 O96 1997.

The Timetables of African-American History. 1995.

Chronicles events, movements, and figures in African-American history from 1492 to 1992. Mugar Ref. X E185 H295 1995.


Bibliographic Checklist of African American Newspapers. 1995.

Checklist of 5539 newspapers and other periodicals (e.g., Ebony) that have been owned, published, edited, and/or read predominantly by Americans of African descent. Mugar Z6944 N39 H46 1995. Storage: Use Request Form.

A Bibliographical Guide to African-American Women Writers. 1993.

Bibliographic guide to the creative works (primary sources) of more than 1200 black women writers from 1746 through 1991. Also includes critical citations (secondary sources) concerning many of the writers. Mugar Ref. X Z1229 N39 J67 1993.

The Black Aged in the United States: A Selectively Annotated Bibliography. 1989.

Includes citations to books, articles, pamphlets, dissertations, theses, and government documents on elderly African-Americans. Mugar Z1361 N39 D354 1989. Storage: Use Request Form.

Black American Women in Literature: A Bibliography, 1976 through 1987. 1989.

Contains references to poetry, short fiction, plays, and essays by and criticism of 300 African-American women. Mugar Ref. X Z1229 N39 G57 1989.

Blacks in Film and Television. 1990.

Bibliographic guide to books, dissertations, periodical articles, and AV materials on blacks in film and television in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the U.S. Mugar Ref. X Z5784 M9 G72

The Civil Rights Movement: References and Resources. 1993.

Bibliography of published studies concerning the civil rights movement in the southern United States between Rosa Parks’ arrest in 1955 and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. Mugar E185.61 M984 1993.

Contemporary African American Female Playwrights: An Annotated Bibliography. 1998.

Includes anthologies with plays written by African American female playwrights; general criticism and reference books with substantive reference to African American female playwrights and their plays; and primary and secondary resources for individual playwrights who have published at least one play since 1959. Mugar PS338 N4 W52 1998.

Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. 1999.

Covers 79 writers of various genres. Entries include a biography, major works and themes, critical reception, and a bibliography. Mugar PS374 N4 C658 1999.

Kaiser Index to Black Resources 1948-1986. 5 vols. 1992.

Bibliographic guide to periodical literature, published articles and ephemera on the black experience, in the collections of the Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, New York Public Library. Mugar Z1361 N39 K34 1992. Storage: Use Request Form.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: An Annotated Bibliography. 1986.

Lists approximately 1300 items by or about Dr. King, published between 1955 and 1984. Includes entries for books, articles, dissertations, and government documents. Mugar Ref. X Z8464.44 P9 1986.

Race and Crime: An Annotated Bibliography. 2000.

Annotated bibliography of books, monographs, journal articles, dissertations, special issues, government documents, and websites on race and offending, race and victimization, and race and criminal justice system professionals. Includes a separate chapter on African Americans. Mugar HV6197 U5 R87 2000.

Racism in Contemporary America. 1996.

Bibliographic citations to published articles, books, documents, theses, dissertations, reports and other materials. Arranged under 87 subject headings. Mugar E185.615 W436 1996.

Revealing Documents: A Guide to African American Manuscripts in the Schlesinger Library and Radcliffe College Archives. 1993.

Lists and describes letters, photographs, journals, oral history transcripts, and other documents relevant to African-American history. Primary focus is women. Mugar Z7965 R4 1993. Storage: Use Request Form.

A Survey of Sources at the Rockefeller Archive Center for the Study of African-American History and Race Relations. 1993.

Arranged alphabetically by institution or individual, this is a listing of 2250+ entries documenting Rockefeller philanthropy concerning African-American general welfare and education, the development of African-American institutions and individual careers, attitudes towards African-Americans, race relations, and the concepts of racial harmony and equality. Mugar Z1361 N39 R73 1993 Storage: Use Request Form.

Women of Color in the United States: A Guide to the Literature. 1989.

Contains citations for books, book chapters, journal articles, and dissertations on African, Asian, Hispanic, and native American women. Mugar Z7964 U49 R4 1989 Storage: Use Request Form.


Atlas of American Diversity. 1998.

Atlas using charts, graphs, maps, tables, and text to depict racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. Includes a chapter on African Americans. Mugar E184 A1 S575 1998

Historical and Cultural Atlas of African Americans. 1991.

Visual and statistical representation of African-American history and culture, beginning with African origins. Mugar Ref. X E185 A8 1991

Biographical Sources

African American Authors 1745 – 1945: Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook . 2000.

Alphabetically arranged entries for 78 black essayists, novelists, short story writers, poets, playwrights, and autobiographers active between 1745 and 1945. Mugar PS153 N5 A32 2000

African American National Biography. 8 vols. 2008.

Eight volume set of alphabetically arranged biographical entries for 4100 African Americans, historical and contemporary. Volume 8 includes indexes by birthplace and by subject area and realm of renown; as well as a list of African American prizewinners, medalists, members of Congress, and judges. Mugar Ref. X E185.96 A4466 2008

African American Women: A Biographical Dictionary. 1993.

Contains summaries and analytical descriptions of approximately 300 women from the Colonial period to the present. Includes appendix listing women by career. Mugar E185.96 A45 1993

African-American Writers: A Dictionary. 2000.

Contains biographical information on black writers from the 18th century to the present. Mugar Ref. X PS153 N5 A3444 2000

Black Women in America. 2nd ed. 3 vols. 2005.

Includes biographical essays on individual black women, both historical and contemporary, and entries on general topics such as Abolition and the Harlem Renaissance. Mugar Ref. X E185.86 B542 2005

Dictionary of American Negro Biography. 1982.

Comprehensive biographical dictionary of African-Americans deceased before 1970. Includes national figures as well as those of regional or local significance. Mugar E185.96 L6 1982 Storage: Use Request Form.

Notable Black American Women. 1992.

Contains biographical essays on 500 black American women of historical and contemporary significance. Mugar E185.96 N68 1992

Publisher: Detroit, MI : Gale Research
Available at Reference X (E185.96 .W52 ), Off-site Storage: sign in and request (E185.96 .W52 )
Note: Biographical information on more than 20,000 African-Americans in elected or appointed office, or in careers in the arts, civil rights, sports, business, education, and religion.


Ancestry in America: A Comparative City-by-City Guide to Over 200 Ethnic Backgrounds — With Rankings. 2003.

Race, Hispanic origin, and ancestry data for 4,206 communities with a population of 10,000+ and comparative ancestry rankings for the top 150 places. A companion CD-ROM (Mugar Reserve Room HB3505 .A53 2003 CD-ROM) has data for all 33,150 populated places in the US, and comparative rankings for the top 600 communities for each ancestry. There are 217 separate ethnicities listed. Data are derived from the SF1 and SF3 files of the 2000 Census. Mugar HB3505 A53 2003

Black Americans: A Statistical Sourcebook. Annual.

Annual statistical compilation covering a variety of topics on African-Americans. Mugar Ref. X E185.5 B63

Black Population (U.S. Census Bureau).

Data  from the Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS)

Historical Statistics of Black America. 2 vols. 1994.

Compilation of 2300+ tables on African-American life from 1619 to 1975. Companion volume to Statistical Record of Black America. Mugar Ref. X E185 H543 1995

Statistical Handbook on Racial Groups in the United States. 2000.

Handbook of statistical data on Asian Americans, blacks, Hispanic Americans, native Americans, and whites. Mugar Ref. X E184 A1 H417 2000


African American Archaeology, History and Cultures.

“This web site is designed to provide convenient access to online presentations and resources concerning the subjects of African-American archaeology, history and cultures, and broader subjects of African diaspora archaeology. The principal focus is on providing links to online presentations concerning African-American archaeology projects, set out in the first sections below, with links listed alphabetically by state within each regional section. Additional links to online resources and presentations concerning African-American history and culture, African archaeology, African history and cultures, African heritage in Britain, and the subjects of slavery, resistance and abolition are also provided. Bibliographies and research guides to print publications within each subject area are included.”

African American Health.

National Library of Medicine/MedlinePlus web page on the issue of African American Health, with links to recent news, the NIH, nutrition, prevention/screening, research, specific conditions/aspects of African American health, treatment, organizations, statistics, children, seniors, women, and Spanish language pages.

African American Odyssey.

Virtual exhibit from the collections of the Library of Congress provides “a comprehensive, rich picture of more than 200 years of African American struggle and achievement.”

The African American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture.

Selections from a Library of Congress exhibit focusing on colonization, abolition, migration and the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection.

The Daniel A. P. Murray Pamphlet Collection at the Library of Congress provides a glimpse of African-American history and culture between 1818 and 1907. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett.

African American Women Writers of the 19th Century.

“African American Women Writers of the 19th Century is a digital collection of some 52 published works by 19th-century black women writers. A part of the Digital Schomburg, this collection provides access to the thought, perspectives and creative abilities of black women as captured in books and pamphlets published prior to 1920. A full text database of these 19th and early 20th- century titles, this digital library is key-word-searchable.”

American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology.

Contains samples of Works Progress Administration (WPA) interviews conducted with over 2300 former slaves between 1936 and 1938, together with WPA photographs of the former slaves. The entire collection of narratives is published in The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography, edited by George P. Rawick, Westport CT: Greenwood Press. 1972-79; Mugar E441 F72

Archives of African-American Music and Culture.

Focuses on the research and study of African-American music and culture. Collections include audio and video recordings, photographs, original scores and manuscripts, radio programs, and interviews. Lists archives’ holdings, events and exhibitions, and links to related sites on African-American music. An Online Reference Guide to African American History.

“An online reference center makes available a wealth of materials on African American history in one central location on the Internet. These materials include an online encyclopedia of over 1,500 entries, the complete transcript of over 125 speeches given between 1789 and 2008, over 100 full text primary documents, bibliographies, timelines and four gateway pages with links to 50 digital archive collections. Additionally 75 major African American museums and research centers and over 400 other website resources on black history are also linked to the website.

Black Abolitionist Archive, University of Detroit, Mercy.

“From the 1820s to the Civil War, African Americans assumed prominent roles in the transatlantic struggle to abolish slavery. In contrast to the popular belief that the abolitionist crusade was driven by wealthy whites, some 300 black abolitionists were regularly involved in the antislavery movement, heightening its credibility and broadening its agenda. The Black Abolitionist Digital Archive is a collection of over 800 speeches by antebellum blacks and approximately 1,000 editorials from the period. These important documents provide a portrait of black involvement in the anti-slavery movement; scans of these documents are provided as images and PDF files.”

Boston African Americana Project.

“The Boston African Americana Project gathers visual and textual materials held by the Athenaeum, the Bostonian Society, Historic New England, and the Massachusetts Historical Society. Digitized materials relating to African Americans fall broadly within the categories of slavery, the abolition movement, free blacks, the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, rural life, urban life, social life, advertising, and depictions of men, women, and children, and consist of broadsides, caricatures, illustrations, manuscripts, pamphlets, political cartoons, portraits, and views. The database contains images and transcriptions of over five hundred items spanning the years 1770 to 1950, with the bulk of the collection falling around 1865.”

The Encyclopædia Britannica Guide to Black History. (BU-px).

“The Encyclopædia Britannica Guide to Black History features 600 informative articles and is beautifully illustrated with historical film clips and audio recordings, as well as hundreds of photographs and other images.”

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress.

“The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress presents the papers of the nineteenth-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. The papers span the years 1841 to 1964, with the bulk of the material from 1862 to 1895. The printed Speech, Article, and Book Series contains the writings of Douglass and such contemporaries in the abolitionist and early women’s rights movements as Henry Ward Beecher, Ida B. Wells, Gerrit Smith, Horace Greeley, and others. The Subject File Series reveals Douglass’s interest in diverse subjects such as politics, emancipation, racial prejudice, women’s suffrage, and prison reform. Scrapbooks document Douglass’s role as minister to Haiti and the controversy surrounding his interracial second marriage.”

The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition.

“The Gilder Lehrman Center is dedicated to the investigation and dissemination of information concerning all aspects of the Atlantic slave system and its destruction.” Resources include an online document collection; Tangled Roots, a research project about the shared history of African Americans and Irish Americans; curriculum on the Amistad case; and other resources.

The Malcolm X Project at Columbia University.

“Since its inception in 2001, the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University has been concerned primarily with gathering and illuminating new research about El Hajj Malik el-Shabazz through two major initiatives: 1) the construction of a robust, web-based, multimedia version of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and 2) the research and development of a biography of Malcolm X written by Dr. Manning Marable, the project’s director.”

National Museum of African American History and Culture.

A branch of the Smithsonian Institution, “the Museum on the Web is the online experience of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Conceived from the very beginning as a fully virtual precursor to the museum to be built on the Washington Mall, this is the first time a major museum is opening its doors on the Web prior to its physical existence. The centerpiece of the NMAAHC Museum on the Web are the collected reminiscences of ordinary Americans.”

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

A branch of the New York Public Library, this is a national research library devoted to collecting, preserving, and providing access to resources documenting the experiences of peoples of African descent throughout the world. Offers access to the African American Women Writers of the 19th Century digital archives as well as other digital collections and online exhibits.

Sonja Haynes Stone Center Library for Black Culture and History Guide to the Web.

Based at the library of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this guide contains links to 600+ Web sites on African, African American, and African Diaspora history and culture.

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database has information on almost 35,000 slaving voyages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries. It offers researchers, students and the general public a chance to rediscover the reality of one of the largest forced movements of people in world history.