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Black American History Pathfinder


African American Encyclopedia. (Ref. E 185 .A253 2001, 10 vols.)
Entries range from several paragraphs to several pages. Emphasis is on biography, but other topics are covered too, such as interracial marriage. Treatment seems to be uncritical and the writing style is elementary.

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. (Ref. E 185 .E54 2006, 6 vols.)
Includes 2200 entries of which two-thirds are biographical. Includes long essays by famous scholars on important people like King, and events such as the Civil Rights Movement. This set is far better than the above, especially for a college audience.

Encyclopedia of Black America. (Ref. E 185 .E55)
This book is useful for ready reference, although there are some long essays, such as employment or music.

Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights. (Ref. E 185.61 .E54 1992)
Contains over 800 short articles on individuals, organizations, events and court cases related to the civil rights movement.

W.E.B. Du Bois: An Encyclopedia. (Ref. E 185.97 .D73 W164 2001)

Slavery in the United States

Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations. (Ref. E 185.5 .O74 2001)

Encyclopedia of African American Society. (Ref. E 185 .E546 2005)
This two-volume work provides information about events, institutions and activities of Black Americans.

African Americans at War: An Encyclopedia. (Ref. U 52 .S88 2004)

Encyclopedia of Black Studies. (Ref E 185 .E554 2005) Covers ideas and concepts related to Black Studies. Each entry is written by a scholar and includes bibliographies.

Encyclopedia of Minorities in American Politics. (Ref. E 184 .A1 E574 2000) Volume 1 covers Black Americans.

Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad. (Ref. E 450 .H855 2006)

Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration. (Ref. E 185.6 .E54 2006)

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Folklore. (Ref. GR 111 .A47 G74 2006)

Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895. (Ref. E 185 .E545 2006)

Encyclopedia of American Race Riots. (Ref. E184 .A1 E573 2007) Vol. 2 includes primary documents.

Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World


Reference Library of Black America. (Ref. E 185 .R 44 1990, 5 vols).
Vol. 1 includes chronology, documents, landmarks and civil rights; vol. 2 includes legal status (court decisions, black politicians and jurists), population, family, labor and capitalism, the last four being important for statistical information albeit rapidly becoming dated; vol. 3 covers employment, income, federal government, education, revolutionary war, military; vol. 4 covers athletes, writers, artists, scientists, performing arts and music; vol. 5 covers film, press, religion among many other topics.

Black Firsts. (also available in print, Ref. E 185 .B574 2003)
Organized by topics, e.g., military, sports and then by year.

New York Public Library African American Desk Reference. (Ref. E 185 .N49 1999)

Civil Rights Chronicle.  (Ref. JC 599 .U5 C558 2003)

  accesses reference books published by CREDO


Dictionary of American Negro Biography. (Ref. E 185.96 .L6 1982)
Provides scholarly and comprehensive treatment of people who died prior to Jan 1, 1970. Historical significance, not fame, is an important criteria. Includes figures of regional and local importance.

Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century. (E 185.96 .B536 1982)
Entries emphasize the careers of fifteen "nationally known twentieth century American black leaders," among them Mary Bethune, Whitney Young, and Marcus Garvey. Treatment is scholarly. See also Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century (Ref. E 185.96 .B535 1988).

The Civil Rights Struggle: Leaders in Profile. (E 185.96 .D38)
Provides profiles of people whose careers centered around the civil rights movement. Some unusual choices here, such as Theodore Bilbo, Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, but no Supreme Court Justices.

Black Women in United States History. (E 185.86 .B543 1990, 16 vols.)
Vols. 1-4 cover colonial times through the 19th century, vols. 5-8, the 20th century. Other vols. cover specific subjects. (Search by title, black women in united states history in the Library Catalog for complete list). Many articles written by prominent historians; scholarly in tone.

Black Writers. (E 185.96 .B545 1989)
Contains 400 entries on 20th century black writers. The subjects were "lifted" from Contemporary Authors and the arrangement follows the same format.

Contemporary Black Biography. (Ref. E 185.96 .C66, 18 vols.)
Most of the subjects are American. Articles are from 2 to 6 pages long and appear to be even-handed.

Black Women in America. (Ref. E 185.86 .B542 2005)
Includes 641 biographies of influential black women and 163 entries that deal with general topics, e.g., "Aunt Jemima." Entries are alphabetically arranged but be sure to see the Classified List of Biographical Entries on page xi. Selection criteria emphasized women who were important nationally. Another source is African American Women (Ref. E 185.96 .A45 1993). Contains 300 concise entries on women who "made meaningful, though largely unheralded, contributions to American history and culture." See also Notable Black American Women (Ref. E 185.96 .N68 1992)

Who's Who Among Black Americans. (Ref. E 185.96 .W52)
Concise biographical information on 17,000 black Americans from all walks of life.

African American Biographies. (Ref. E 185.96 .H38 1992)
Covers 558 notable black Americans who served as role models to black children and who were alive in 1969.

Dictionary of American Biography. (Ref. E 176 .D56)
Better known is the DAB, this title is getting a bit dated but is nonetheless an important reference source. Articles are written by scholars and are signed.

Notable American Women: 1607-1950, The Modern Period; Completing the 20th Century. (print, Ref. CT 3260 .N57, .N5726; N573)
Biographical entries on more than 1800 women, most of whom were not included in the DAB.

Freedom's Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Office Holders During Reconstruction. (Ref. E 185.96 .F64 1996)
Provides short biographical entries on 1500 lawmakers at the national, state and local levels.

Facts on File Encyclopedia of Black Women in America. (Ref. E 185.96 .F2 1996)
Eleven volumes with each volume devoted to to field such as science or medicine. Includes information on individuals and organizations relevant to the scope of each volume. Entries are alphabetically arranged. Volume 11 has various indices for the whole set.

American National Biography. (Ref. E 176 .A68 1999)
Tthe ANB is the best biographical source for Americans. Twenty-five volumes (and growing) in length, this title has taken advantage of two generations of research since the DAB was first conceived.

They Too Call Alabama Home: African American Profiles, 1800-1999. (E 185.96 .B25 1999)

Notable Black American Men. (Ref. E 185.86 .N68 1999)

African American Lives. (Ref. E 185.96 .A446 2004) Covers 611 biographies of Black Americans, dead and living.

Encyclopedia of African American Women Writers. (Ref PS 153 .N5 E49 2007)

Historical and Cultural Atlas of African Americans. (Ref. E 185 .A8 1991)
Includes narrative, illustrations and maps covering prehistoric Africa to the present. This book is more important for the maps than for the illustrations.

The African American Atlas. (Ref. E 185 .A79 1998)

We have two books dealing with statistics. Statistical Record of Black America (Ref. E 185.5 .S83 1995) is by far the best. Its coverage is complete and detailed. The other title is Black Americans: A Statistical Sourcebook (Ref. E 185.5 .B512 1995). The latter is not a "bad" book by any means--it's just not as complete as the first title.

African American Almanac. (Ref. E 185.5 .N34)
Previously called The Negro Almanac. Topically arranged, e.g., popular music, sports, classical music, education, politics and many others. Subject index.

Almanac of African American Heritage. (Ref. E 185 .A448 2001)
Arranged by broad topic, such as Fashion, this book lists facts or people relevant to topic.
We have four chronologies which tell what happened when, invariably in a brief entry. They include: Black Saga (E 185 .C519 1995); Chronology of African-American History (Ref. E 185 .H64 1991) which is the most complete; Timetables of African-American History (Ref. E 185 .H295 1995); and The Blacks in America, 1492-1977 (E 185 .S57 1976). See also The Chronology on the History of Slavery.
Internet Sources

Gateways Portals Directories

WWW_VL African American History This is very comprehensive site; some links don't work. It's a good place to start.

WWW-VL  History;USA:Slavery

Yahoo African American Studies Looks are deceiving: only six links are noted. Click on history and you will get a treasure trove of sites divided into various categories and most popular sites. The link to literature is also good but the others are much less complete.


The African American Mosaic  From the Library of Congress this site will provide narrative and sources on these topics:

   Personal Stories and ACS New Directions

   Influence of Prominent Abolitionists
   Conflict of Abolition and Slavery

   Western Migration and Homesteading
   Nicodemus, Kansas
   Chicago: Destination for the Great Migration

   Cavalcade of the American Negro
   Authors and the Federal Writers' Project
   Ex-slave Narratives


African American History  Wiki essay

BlackPast.org: Remembered & Reclaimed.  Divided into two main parts: African American History and African American History in the West.  Within each each category there are a wide variety of sources including primary and secondary sources.

Real African American History. This is a large collection of resources, alpha arranged.

H-Afro-Am. This is a discussion forum, also good for book reviews.

African American History. This is a good site for people, events and other references.

African American History, Impact, and Culture. There are hundreds of sites, organized first by general and comprehensive sites and then specialized ones.

African American Women.

Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture
Provides digital links to collections, services and programs.

African American History  From the Library of Congress, 17 collections on various aspects of Black American History.

American Slave Narratives

Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
  Contains stories, interactive maps.

Library Contact
Picture: Dan Ring

Dan Ring
Reference Librarian


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