African American History OERs
Updated: Mar 2
“For me the history of the place of Black people in this country is so varied, complex and beautiful. And impactful.” -From the documentary film Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
Here is a running list of open educational resources that center Black History.
(NOTE: Most of the collection descriptions below are taken directly from the corresponding websites. Some have been abridged or edited for clarity.)
I am looking for OER textbooks for teaching African American History that are anywhere near as good as my favorite textbooks-- To Make Our World Anew, Vol. 1 &2; Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans, with Documents; or, African American Odessey.
Introduction to Black Studies/Africana Studies/African American Studies
This course follows African American origins, beginning with an overview of West African culture and history dating back to 1300. The material focuses on the era of enslavement through the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Lumen Learning provides a simple, supported path for faculty members to adopt and teach effectively with open educational resources (OER). Read more about what we do.
African American Studies (Bridget Cooks, UC Irvine)
This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to important historical, cultural, literary, and political issues concerning African Americans. Through critical readings of literary, artistic, and filmic texts, this course provides an overview of African American experiences from the 17th through mid-20th centuries. Emphasis will be placed on developing an understanding of the historical and cultural experiences of African Americans from the beginning of the Transatlantic Slave Trade through the Civil Rights Movement
African American Studies: From Emancipation to the Present (Open Yale)
Professor Jonathan Holloway offers an introduction to the course. He explains the organization of the course and summarizes some of the key concepts that will be explored over the course of the semester. The purpose of this course is to examine the African American experience in the United States from 1863 to the present. Prominent themes include the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction; African Americans’ urbanization experiences; the development of the modern civil rights movement and its aftermath; and the thought and leadership of Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.
Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies (MIT OpenCourseWare)
Interdisciplinary survey of people of African descent that draws on the overlapping approaches of history, literature, anthropology, legal studies, media studies, performance, linguistics, and creative writing. This course connects the experiences of African-Americans and of other American minorities, focusing on social, political, and cultural histories, and on linguistic patterns.
African American Studies Lecture Series
Lecture 1 of Clay Carson's Introduction to African-American History Course (HIST 166) concentrating on the Modern Freedom Struggle (Fall 2007). Topics in this lecture include a course introduction and W.E.B. Du Bois.
"Curriculum is the foundation for Black Studies."--Abdul Alkalimat
Thank you , Dr. Alkalimat for this list of books, video, and syllabi.
Books, E-Books, & Digital Copies
Abdul Alkalimat, The History of Black Studies A surge of African American enrolment and student activism brought Black Studies to many US campuses in the 1960s. Sixty years later, Black Studies programs are taught at more than 1,300 universities worldwide. This book is the first history of how that happened.
Abdul Alkalimat and Associates, Introduction to Afro-American Studies This text is the current phase of a fourteen year project. It was first developed as a course syllabus-study guide at Fisk University.
Maulana Karenga, Introduction to Black Studies In this new edition, Dr Maulana Karenga has again compiled the latest material from a vast array of sources in the seven core areas of Black Studies: history, religion, sociology, politics, economics, creative production and psychology.
James Stewart and Talmadge Anderson, Introduction to African American Studies There is an ongoing debate as to whether African American Studies is a discipline, or multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary field. Some scholars assert that African American Studies use a well-defined common approach in examining history, politics, and the family in the same way as scholars in the disciplines of economics, sociology, and political science. Other scholars consider African American Studies multidisciplinary, a field somewhat comparable to the field of education in which scholars employ a variety of disciplinary lenses-be they anthropological, psychological, historical, etc., --to study the African world experience. In this model the boundaries between traditional disciplines are accepted, and researches in African American Studies simply conduct discipline based an analysis of particular topics. Finally, another group of scholars insists that African American Studies is interdisciplinary, an enterprise that generates distinctive analyses by combining perspectives from different traditional disciplines and synthesizing them into a unique framework of analysis.
Peoples College This printing of the fourth edition of INTRODUCTION TO AFRO-AMERICAN STUDIES  is a major advance toward accomplishing our goal of developing a text for the basic standardized course in Black Studies.
Eric Jackson, Introduction to Black Studies In An Introduction to Black Studies, Eric R. Jackson demonstrates the continuing need for Black studies, also known as African American studies, in university curricula.
Nathaniel Norment African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions is a comprehensive resource book that recounts the development of the discipline of African American Studies and provides a basic reference source for sixteen areas of knowledge of the discipline: anthropology, art, dance, economics, education, film, history, literature, music, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, political science, science and technology, sports and religion. African American Studies defines bodies of knowledge, methodologies, philosophies, disciplinary concepts, contents, scope, topics scholars have concerned themselves, as well as the growth, development, and present status of the discipline.
Abdul Alkalimat, University of Illinois 2007. Lectures for an undergraduate course at the University of Illinois.
Clay Carson, Stanford Lectures
Greg Carr, Howard Sankofa Lecture Series
Amherst College Introduction to Black Studies, by Olufemi O. Vaughan
Modern Culture and Black People, by People's College
Illinois Afro 100 by Abdul Alkalimat
Montana Introduction to African American Studies, by Tony Shearer
Arizona State Intro to Africana Studies, by Dr. T. Chester
Williams Introduction to African Studies, by Devyn Spence Benson and Dr. Neil Roberts
Texas A&M Intro to Africana Studies, Dr. Alain Lawo-Sukam
Thanks to a major gift from the Citigroup Foundation, the Library launched a five-year effort to add rare and unique items from the Library's vast African-American collections to the National Digital Library.
An overview of slavery in American from 1450-1865, compiled by PBS, with historical documents and teaching plans.
This 6,000 page reference center is dedicated to providing information to the general public on African American history and the history of more than one billion people of African ancestry around the world. We invite you to explore and use all the resources of BlackPast.
Black Self-Publishing is an ongoing collaborative research project. It is based on a working list of books that are known to have been or may have been self-published by people of African descent who resided in North America and either were born before 1851 or first published before 1877. Your help, ideas, corrections, insight, and comments are essential to this work of community scholarship. Please consider contributing your knowledge.
The Colored Conventions Project’s Digital Records website features hundreds of primary sources from the long conventions movement. Primary sources include minutes, proceedings, newspaper articles, speeches, letters, transcripts, and images. The digital collections are organized by year, type, and region. Many primary sources have been transcribed and are keyword searchable. Whenever possible, we provide images of the documents along with the transcriptions and relevant metadata.
Digital Public Library of America
The Digital Public Library of America empowers people to learn, grow, and contribute to a diverse and better-functioning society by maximizing access to our shared history, culture, and knowledge.
Financial Literacy in the Black Community [Annuity]
Closing the racial wealth gap isn’t a simple fix. But many experts say education and financial literacy can help. In this article, we identify the impact this knowledge gap has on the African American community — and explore how Black educators and financial advisors are working to close it.
Founded in 2008, HathiTrust is a not-for-profit collaborative of academic and research libraries preserving 17+ million digitized items. HathiTrust offers reading access to the fullest extent allowable by U.S. copyright law, computational access to the entire corpus for scholarly research, and other emerging services based on the combined collection. HathiTrust members steward the collection — the largest set of digitized books managed by academic and research libraries — under the aims of scholarly, not corporate, interests.
HathiTrust advances its mission and goals through services and programs: HathiTrust Digital Library preserves and provides lawful access to the 17+ million digitized items. The Emergency Temporary Access Service permits temporary, emergency access to the collection for member libraries during service disruptions caused by the glocal pandemic. HathiTrust Research Center offers services that support use of the HathiTrust corpus as a dataset for analysis via text and data mining research. Shared Print Program develops a distributed, shared network of print collections with collective print retention. U.S. Federal Documents Program expands access to and preserve U.S. federal publications. Copyright Review Program review team finds and opens public domain materials in the U.S. and around the world.
Internet Archive: Digital Library
Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The Smithsonian has launched its Open Access Initiative. Images of objects from the NMAAHC collection are now available to view, download, and share through a CC0 license.
The Curator Chats Series: Curator Chats are video portraits of curators from the National Museum of African History and Culture. They provide insight and anecdotal information about exhibitions at the museum and upcoming projects.
The North Star: A place where you can discover stories and objects that illuminate the African American experience. The North Star has been an important symbol in the African American community. A beacon of hope and freedom for some, a symbol of knowledge and information for others and a celestial representation of purpose and reason. What will you find? Explore African American history through digital activities on the Smithsonian Learning Lab platform. The activities, or collections, have gathered objects, stories, videos and thinking questions all in one place.
Timed Entry Passes: The National Museum of African American History and Culture’s hours of operation are Tuesday - Sunday from 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., and 12:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on Mondays. On Mondays that are observed as Federal Holidays, the museum will open at 10:00 a.m. The museum is closed on December 25. Group reservations are available from 10:15 am to 2:45 pm. Passes are available for reservation up to 60 days in advance, and are released on the 3rd Monday of the month. Ten is the minimum number of visitors for a group reservation and the maximum of 55 per entry time. Groups larger than 200 must split over more than one day.
Not Even Past (NEP) Resources for Teaching Black History
Over the past decade, Not Even Past has published a wide range of resources connected to Black History written by faculty and graduate students at UT and beyond. To mark Black History Month, we have collected them into one compilation page organized around 11 topics. These articles showcase groundbreaking research, but they are also intended as a concrete resource for teachers and students. This is an evolving compilation that is continually updated.
Compiled by Alina Scott and Gabrielle Esparza
The American Historical Association's Remote Teaching Resources compiles materials and tools to help historians develop courses and teach remotely in online and hybrid environments. To explore resources, click on the tabs at the top of the page.
At Smarthistory, the Center for Public Art History, we believe art has the power to transform lives and to build understanding across cultures. We believe that the brilliant histories of art belong to everyone, no matter their background.
Primary source collections exploring topics in history, literature, and culture developed by educators — complete with teaching guides for class use.
Relying on the expertise of distinguished curators and scholars, Digital Schomburg provides access to trusted information, interpretation, and scholarship on the global black experience 24/7. Users worldwide can find, in this virtual Schomburg Center, exhibitions, books, articles, photographs, prints, audio and video streams, and selected external links for research in the history and cultures of the peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora.
How Did We Get Here?: 163 years of The Atlantic’s writing on race and racism in America.
The Making of African American Identity, 1500-1865 Part 1[PRIMARY RESOURCES thematically organized with notes and discussion questions.]
National Humanities Center
Part 2 , 1865-1917
Sources by Era:
African Kingdoms.co.uk is a one-stop website with a suite of resources for teachers planning to teach West African history. It is aimed at British teachers from Key Stage 2 through to Key Stage 5, but many of the materials will also be of use to teachers from other countries teaching these topics even according to different syllabi
Africa’s rock art is as diverse as the continent itself. The African rock art image project team has catalogued c. 23,000 digital photographs of rock art from across Africa – originally from the Trust for African Rock Art (TARA) – through generous support from the Arcadia Fund.
African History Digital Document Portal
AH_digITal Document Portal project will curate electronic and digitized copies of historical documents and field research materials, archives, and other sources of information that scholars & researchers of Africa have collected over many years of their work. These resources will include copies of field notes, manuscripts, rare books, magazines, pamphlets, pictures and images, and transcripts of interviews, songs, and other audio and visual documents covering periods from before colonization of Africa up until the recent past.
African Online Digital Library
AODL provides free universal access to cultural heritage materials from and about African countries and communities. It brings together tens of thousands of digitized photographs, videos, archival documents, maps, interviews and oral histories in numerous African languages, many of which are contained in curated thematic galleries and teaching resources.
Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu
Timbuktu, Mali, is the legendary city founded as a commercial center in West Africa nine hundred years ago. Dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, the ancient manuscripts presented in this exhibition cover every aspect of human endeavor and are indicative of the high level of civilization attained by West Africans during the Middle Ages.
Topics [Chronological Order]:
Colonial , American Revolution, and Antebellum
Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery
Colonial slavery shaped modern Britain and we all still live with its legacies. The slave-owners were one very important means by which the fruits of slavery were transmitted to metropolitan Britain. We believe that research and analysis of this group are key to understanding the extent and the limits of slavery's role in shaping British history and leaving lasting legacies that reach into the present. We are now moving in the direction of more focused research on the lives of enslaved people in the Caribbean. This is a natural development from our work on slave-owners and estates and an exciting demonstration of our commitment to the study of the multiple legacies of slavery in the British imperial world. With growth comes necessary change. One we are most pleased to make is to our name, which we changed in May 2021 to the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery.
Since 2018, Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade (Enslaved.org) has been serving the needs of scholars, genealogists, students, and members of the public interested in the people of the historical slave trade. Enslaved.org is a discovery hub that helps users to search and find information from a large and growing number of datasets and digital projects. Researchers can learn from linking data, visualizing larger relations and movements, and connecting the traces of people from one dataset to the next.
Digital Library of Ibero-America
La Biblioteca Digital del Patrimonio Iberoamericano (BDPI) es un proyecto impulsado por la Asociación de Bibliotecas Nacionales de Iberoamérica (ABINIA) que tiene como objetivo la creación de un portal que permita el acceso desde un único punto de consulta a los recursos digitales de todas las Bibliotecas participantes.
The CUNY DOMINICAN STUDIES INSTITUTE (CUNY DSI), a research unit of the City University of New York housed at The City College of New York, has announced the publication of their online academic and educational platform "First Blacks in the Americas," the first digital bilingual platform devoted to disseminating the history of the early inhabitants of Black-African ancestry of today's Dominican Republic, then a Spanish colony named La Española (Hispaniola, in English) that occupied the entire island of the same name, shared today by the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Haiti.
Freedom Narratives focuses on the enforced migration of enslaved Africans in the Atlantic world during the era of the slave trade from the 16th to the 19th century. The biographical accounts included here include the testimonies and stories of individuals born in West Africa whose voices have long been silenced. This digital repository of autobiographical testimonies and biographical data establishes where people came from, why they were enslaved, whether or not they freed themselves, and what happened to them.
Investigating Indentured Servitude
This exhibit uses interactive visualizations of data from the book to examine indentured servitude in Colonial British North America.
Latin American Pamphlet Collection
Latin American Pamphlet Digital Collection
Scarce and unique pamphlets, primarily from Chile, Cuba, Bolivia and Mexico, published during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
After 1807, over 250,000 people were involved in an international effort to abolish the Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trades. This resource is dedicated to their memories.
Memories of Slavery: Trauma and Representation in 17th c. Europe and Africa
The database examines the pictorial processing of the history and post-history of the transatlantic slave trade in European and West African art and the conspicuous topicality of the topic in international contemporary art.
Slave Societies Digital Archive
The Slave Societies Digital Archive (formerly Ecclesiastical and Secular Sources for Slave Societies), directed by Jane Landers and hosted at Vanderbilt University, preserves endangered ecclesiastical and secular documents related to Africans and African-descended peoples in slave societies. SSDA holdings include more than 700,000 digital images drawn from close to 2,000 unique volumes dating from the sixteenth through twentieth centuries that document the lives of an estimated four to six million individuals. This collection contains the most extensive serial records for the history of Africans in the Atlantic World, and also includes valuable information about the indigenous, European, and Asian populations who lived alongside them.
Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network is an open access data repository of information on the identities of enslaved people in the Atlantic World.
The images in Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora have been selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. Our growing collection currently has over 1,200 images. This website is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public - in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World. To explore locations of images using the map above, please click the colored dots.
This digital memorial raises questions about the largest slave trades in history and offers access to the documentation available to answer them. European colonizers turned to Africa for enslaved laborers to build the cities and extract the resources of the Americas. They forced millions of Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas, and from one part of the Americas to another. Analyze these slave trades and view interactive maps, timelines, and animations to see the dispersal in action.
Slavery and the Making of America
PBS Series and Educational Materials
Online Primary Sources for the American Revolution (curated by Dr. Terry Bouton)
This websites includes a sizable collections of open-access primary source materials on the American Revolution. The listings below link to records from major archives and research libraries as well as online collection projects and databases that have compiled resources from numerous locations. There are also links to digitized versions of books containing historical documents, mostly state-sponsored series started in the late-19th century that reproduced government records from the colonial and Revolutionary era.
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.
Guards and Pickets: Paperwork of Slavery
Welcome to Guards and Pickets: Paperwork of Slavery. Here you will find fourteen documents from the Briscoe Center for American History‘s Natchez Trace Slaves and Slavery Collection. The digitized documents have been divided into five categories: “Jail Fees,” “Marriage Certificate,” “Patrol Invoice,” “Permission to Appraise,” and “Slave Passes.” You will also find essays on the paperwork of slavery, lesson plans with ideas on how to teach with these documents, and suggestions for further reading.
Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast
Created in the wake of American emancipation and some twenty years after the abolition of slavery in the French Atlantic, Why Born Enslaved! was shaped by the enduring popularity of antislavery imagery, the development of nineteenth-century ethnographic theories of racial difference, and France’s colonialist fascination with Africa. The exhibition will explore the sculpture’s place within these contexts.
Underwritten by a "We the People" grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Race and Slavery Petitions Project is a cooperative venture between the Race and Slavery Petitions Project and the Electronic Resources and Information Technology Department of University Libraries at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The Project offers a searchable database of detailed personal information about slaves, slaveholders, and free people of color. Designed as a tool for scholars, historians, teachers, students, genealogists, and interested citizens, the site provides access to information gathered and analyzed over an eighteen-year period from petitions to southern legislatures and country courts filed between 1775 and 1867 in the fifteen slaveholding states in the United States and the District of Columbia.
Slavery Era Insurance Registries
A number of insurance companies, many of whom do business to this day, wrote policies insuring slave owners against the loss, damage, or death of their slaves. On September 30, 2000 Governor Gray Davis of California signed two bills relating to slave insurance, with other states later following suit. Included here are 670 distinct records as made available by the California Department of Insurance.
People Not Property - Slave Deeds of North Carolina is a new, collaborative endeavor between the UNCG University Libraries, North Carolina Division of Archives and Records, and North Carolina Registers of Deeds among others. Funded through a generous NHPRC grant from the National Archives, the project is leading towards a unique, centralized database of bills of sales indexing the names of enslaved people from across North Carolina. Until completed, we aggregate and link to the individual efforts of several counties. More information on each of these local efforts may be found on the About DLAS page.
NC Runaway Slave Advertisements
The North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements project provides online access to all known runaway slave advertisements (more than 2300 items) published in North Carolina newspapers from 1751 to 1840. These brief ads provide a glimpse into the social, economic, and cultural world of the American slave system and the specific experience within North Carolina. The NCRSA website includes digital scans of the ads, contextual essays to address their historical research value, full text transcripts, an annotated bibliography to aid researchers, and a searchable database.
Modern Day Slavery (Underground Railroad Freedom Center)
Slavery is outlawed in every country in the world, and yet it still persists in many forms.
Wartime Emancipation and Reconstruction
Blk Freedom Collective documents a national exploration of the U.S. Constitution in “We The People” through the eyes of historic museums and anthropologists from across the United States. Each museum has selected a theme from the United States Constitution’s Preamble to guide their program contribution.
The Freedmen’s Bureau Project helps African Americans reconnect with their Civil War-era ancestors. Join us in discovering your roots, and begin building your own family tree.
Harper's Weekly is pleased to present “Citizenship, Due Process, and Equal Protection: The Creation of the Fourteenth Amendment” as a public service for students, teachers, and interested citizens.
The Great Migration
Jacob Lawrence and the Great Migration Series
Rare Images from the Great Migration
The Newberry has acquired a set of rare images documenting African American communities in Chicago and other northern cities in the first two decades of the 20th century. Collectively, the 44 glass slides are a striking visual record of the Great Migration, when millions of African Americans relocated from rural areas of the South to urban centers of the North. The images now available at the Newberry offer a window into the new lives Black migrants built for themselves: there are images of youth basketball players posing for a team photo, nurses caring for children, men working in a foundry, and families attending church together.
World War I
Scott's official history of the American Negro in the World War. A complete and authentic narration, from official sources, of the participation of American soldiers of the Negro race in the World War for democracy ... a full account of the war work organizations of colored men and women and other civilian activities, including the Red Cross, the Y.M.C.A., the Y.W.C.A. and the War camp community service, with official summary of treaty of peace and League of Nations covenant. Prefaced with highest tributes to the American Negro by Hon. Newton D. Baker ... Gen. John J. Pershing ... and the late Theodore Roosevelt.
Red Summer and Aftermath
Inspired by Associate Professor DeNeen Brown’s reporting on the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism recruited 31 journalism students from the University of Maryland, Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University and North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. They spent the summer of 2021 digging deep into archives and interviewing descendants, experts and historians to document the power of white-owned newspapers to harm the Black community. They were joined in the fall by another 27 students from UMD and two students from the University of Arkansas.
Black women’s suffrage.
Thousands of artifacts.
Thousands of stories.
Hear the story of the Japanese American incarceration experience from those who lived it, and find thousands of historic photographs, documents, newspapers, letters and other primary source materials from immigration to the WWII incarceration and its aftermath.
Of particular interest, in my teaching on World War II is this archive: Molly Wilson Murphy Collection
Mollie Wilson Murphy was an African-American woman who lived in Boyle Heights during World War II. She had many Japanese-American friends who were forced into concentration camps during the war. This collection comprises of the correspondences between Mollie and her friends in camp. The Mollie Wilson Papers include correspondence, school photographs, and miscellaneous photos in Boyle Heights of Mollie and friends before the war, during and after camp. There are also mimeographs, and newspaper clippings.
INCLUSIVE UNIT DATE
BULK UNIT DATE
Columbia’s Main Street was the stage for a number of defining moments during the Civil Rights Movement. A young domestic worker was ejected from a city bus for trying to exit off the front instead of the back at the corner of Main and Washington; sit-ins occurred regularly at lunch counters like Kress near the corner of Main and Hampton; and marches and protests filled the SC State House grounds at the state’s seat of government, which anchors Main Street.
All featured images and videos are courtesy of photographers Cecil Williams and David Wallace, The State Newspaper Photograph Archive, and the University of South Carolina Libraries.
Using historic aerial photography, this ongoing project aims to document the destruction of communities of color due to red-lining, “urban renewal,” and freeway construction. Through a series of stark aerial before-and-after comparisons, figure-ground diagrams, and demographic data, this project will reveal the extent to which the American city was methodically hollowed out based on race. The project will cover the roughly 180 municipalities which received federal funding from the 1956 Federal Highway Act, which created the interstate highway system. Segregation by Design is a personal project of Adam Paul Susaneck.
Mid to Late 20th Century African American Life
African American Experience Photography Archive (1930-1980)
Part of the United Press International (UPI) collection, this series of photographs addresses significant events and people in Black American history from the 1930s through the 1970s. A number of photos address desegregation, the civil rights movement, and the Black Panthers.
F. B. Eyes Digital Archive (Washington University in St. Louis)
The F.B. Eyes Digital Archive makes available for the first time a collection of 51 FBI files on prominent African American authors and literary institutions, many of them unearthed through William J. Maxwell's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Now part of the public domain as unrestricted U.S. government documents, these once-secret files are arranged on this site as they were at FBI national headquarters, under the names of individual authors and institutions.
Detroit Under Fire: Police Violence, Crime Politics, and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Civil Rights Era
Detroit Under Fire is a multimedia digital exhibit that documents patterns and incidents of police brutality and misconduct, as well as 188 fatal shootings and other killings by law enforcement, in the city of Detroit during the era of the modern civil rights movement, from 1957-1973. The exhibit further chronicles the anti-police brutality struggle waged by civil rights and black power groups, and by many ordinary people, who demanded racial and social justice and sought accountability for systemic police violence.
Twenty first century to the present
“The 2020 Project” aims to help illuminate the significance of this moment and the collective struggles faced by Black faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Stanford. We grapple with anti-blackness and its implications on climate on and off campus."
Interpreting African American History and Culture Resource Kit: AASLH
The murder of George Floyd and the wave of protests against racial injustice in the summer of 2020 sparked a national conversation about confronting and dismantling systemic racism in America. As the nation reckons with its inequitable structures of power and privilege, it is imperative to understand the historical roots of these current issues to promote healing and reconciliation. As one of the most trusted sources for learning about history in the country, public history institutions have an obligation to tell the whole story of the nation’s past, which includes the dark history of racism, slavery, violence, and discrimination, from new perspectives. This Interpreting African American History and Culture Resource Kit is designed to help public historians fulfill this obligation. The kit is made up of AASLH conference sessions, webinars, History News, technical leaflets, and books that address topics such as working with descendant communities, celebrating Juneteenth, interpreting slavery for a variety of audiences, and the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on museum practice.
The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook
The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook is co-sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) and the National Council on Public History (NCPH). It aligns with AASLH’s and NCPH’s goals of building diversity and inclusion across the historical community.
Sources By Region:
Digital Harlem forms one part of a collaborative research project on everyday life in Harlem between 1915 and 1930 undertaken by four historians in the Department of History at the University of Sydney, in Australia: Shane White, Stephen Garton, Graham White, and Stephen Robertson, with the assistance of Delwyn Elizabeth, Nick Irving, Michael Thompson, Conor Hannan, and Anna Lebovic.
Unlike most studies of Harlem in the early twentieth century, this project focuses not on black artists and the black middle class, but on the lives of [sic: everyday people black] New Yorkers. It does so primarily by systematically exploring a sample of legal records and black newspapers.
Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs
Jackson Davis, an educational reformer and amateur photographer, took nearly 6,000 photographs of African American schools, teachers and students throughout the Southeastern United States.
Documenting the American South
Documenting the American South (DocSouth) is a digital publishing initiative that provides Internet access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture. Currently DocSouth includes sixteen thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs.
Digital Projects with Amistad Research Center (New Orleans)
The Amistad Research Center is committed to collecting, preserving, and providing open access to original materials that reference the social and cultural importance of America's ethnic and racial history, the African Diaspora, human relations, and civil rights.
The Do Good Fund : A Public Collection of Contemporary Photography from the American South
"The Do Good Fund, Inc. is a Columbus, Georgia based public charity. Since its founding in 2012, the fund has focused on building a museum-quality collection of photographs taken in the American South since World War II. The collection ranges from works by more than twenty Guggenheim Fellows to images by lesser known and emerging photographers working in the region.
Do Good’s mission is to make its collection of nearly 600 images broadly accessible through regional museums, nonprofit galleries, and nontraditional venues and to encourage complementary, community-based programming to accompany each exhibition."
Alabama Media Group Collection
In December 2016, Alabama Media Group (AMG) donated its collection of historical photographic negatives to the Alabama Department of Archives and History. This collection contains more than 3 million negatives taken by newspaper photographers working for the Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times, and Mobile’s Press-Register between the 1920s and the early 2000s (mostly from the 1960s to the early 2000s). This digital collection includes both images from the AMG material and the film sleeves where the original negatives are stored. Though it will take years to complete the digitization, new material will be added each month.
This collection was first published in July 2017 and continues to grow.
Dig Memphis is the digital archive of the Memphis Public Library showcases many of the treasures found in the Memphis and Shelby County Room.
The Things We Do For Ourselves
The Things We Do for Ourselves: African American Leadership in New Orleans,” a permanent virtual exhibit drawn from Amistad’s vast archives and collections, tells an incredible saga of struggle and success while documenting how the Crescent City has benefited from African American leadership and engagement from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.
Notable Kentucky African Americans Database
There are more notable African Americans with Kentucky roots and ties than any one person knows about. Very little has been written about many of them and it is a challenge to find what was written in the past. For some, their stories have only been told by word of mouth. The Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (NKAA) has been developed as a finding aid to bring together a brief description of pertinent names, places, and events, and to list the sources where additional information may be found. This is not currently an all inclusive database, but we are working toward that goal and suggestions are welcomed.
This page is a work in progress, created to share resources about the Black experience in Oklahoma.
Gilcrease Institute of American Art
The Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, known as Gilcrease Museum, houses a comprehensive collection of the art, culture and history of North America. Thomas Gilcrease, a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation, established Gilcrease Museum in 1949 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Today the interdisciplinary collection contains more than 350,000 items. The museum represents hundreds of Indigenous cultures from across North and South America, with material culture and archaeology ranging from 12,000 BCE to the 21st century. The collection includes more than 350 years of American paintings, sculptures and works on paper, including the largest public holdings of art of the American West.
District of Columbia
Histories of the National Mall was developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media , George Mason University with generous funding from the National Endowment from the Humanities. Content licensed under CC-BY.
Slavery and Emancipation in the Nation's Capital
Using Federal Records to Explore the Lives of African American Ancestors
O Say Can You See: Early Washington, DC , Law & Family
Explore hundreds of cases and documents from the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, the Maryland state courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Currently the project contains all petition for freedom cases originating in the D.C. Circuit Court between 1800-1862.
Black Freedom Struggle in Maryland [video]
MdHS welcomes the University of Maryland, Department of History in this virtual program about Maryland’s Black Freedom Struggle. Presentations by Dr. Christopher Bonner, Dr. Michael Ross, and Dr. Elsa Barkley Brown address the Colonization Movement, African American soldiers in the Civil War, and racial terror during the Jim Crow era in Maryland. Dr. Richard Bell moderates.
A fundamental objective of Beneath the Underground is to explore the legacy of the Underground Railroad with the primary documents available at the Maryland State Archives. The purpose of this guide is to help website visitors understand the usefulness and history of the records mined for this project, as well as, to give insight into our research methodology. The core focus years of the Beneath the Underground study are 1830 to 1880.
Under the auspices of the Slavery Commission, the Maryland State Archives is preparing a series of volumes in the Archives of Maryland series relating to the history of slavery in Maryland.
Last Seen (Adds looking for family)
Last Seen is recovering stories of families separated in the domestic slave trade. Formerly enslaved people placed these ads hoping to reconnect with family and loved ones for decades following emancipation. The ads serve as testaments to their enduring hope and determination to regain what was taken from them.
Maryland WPA Slave Records
Maryland State Archives African American History Resources
The department of Special Collections at the Maryland State Archives supervises the care, preservation, accessioning and description of non-government records. These records are usually acquired by the Archives through gifts or deposits by private donors and generally consist of personal letters, diaries, photographs, maps, and manuscript documents.
Maryland Historical Trust--African American Historic Sites
A Guided Tour of Maryland's African-American Historical Markers
Montgomery County, MD African American History
Montgomery County’s history cannot be fully understood without exploring the dynamic role African Americans have played in its founding and development. This collection of resources serves as a starting point to advance understanding, spark discussion, and stimulate further research.
St. Mary's College of Maryland African American History Archive
This website provides links and background information for the many Primary Sources that can be used for the study of the Landscape of Slavery in Maryland, with an emphasis on St. Mary’s County.
Preserve the Baltimore Uprising
Preserve the Baltimore Uprising began as a digital repository designed to preserve and make accessible original content captured and created by individual community members, grassroots organizations, and witnesses to the protests that followed the death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015.
Belair-at-Bowie Flight to Freedom
The Belair-at-Bowie Flight to Freedom research project endeavors to provide a fundamental research methodology and substantive source website use by the general public. The information contained within is illustrative of the complexities of enslavement as it existed in this Prince George's County community between 1830 and 1860.
The history of slavery at Mount Clare is unusual in Maryland for several reasons. Charles Carroll and his wife’s family the Tilghmans, were among the few slaveholders in Maryland who owned large plantations with over one hundred enslaved persons.
Manumissions, Indentures, Bills of Sale - Howard County Historical Society
This collection of 168 items from the Howard County Historical Society contains manumissions, indentures, bills of sale, and other documents related to slavery in Howard County, Maryland in the decades before and just after the Civil War, including several manumissions of slaves who had entered military service during the War.
Slave Documents Collection - Enoch Pratt Free Library
Slavery, the "peculiar institution," generated a variety of documents chronicling daily activities that touched all strata of American society, free and enslaved. Each of the following documents offers a glimpse of what was unfortunately commonplace in a bygone era. The ordinary, matter-of-fact language is chilling in its portrayal of individuals as chattel or property to be dealt with as the custom of the day decreed. Handwritten or printed, the words recorded on fragile papers capture the poignancy of the moment and provide powerful reminders of those trapped in slavery and of others who dared to escape its bonds.
Unknown No Longer: A Database of Virginia Slave Names
Unknown No LongerThe Virginia Museum of History & Culture launched Unknown No Longer in 2011 to make accessible biographical details of enslaved Virginians from unpublished historical records in its collections. At the beginning of 2019, the unique content of Unknown No Longer was moved to be hosted on the Virginia Untold portal operated by the Library of Virginia, providing users with access to an expanded collection of resources for researching African American history in Virginia.
The Geography of Slavery in Virginia offers a new search interface and updated supporting materials for ads, 1736-1777. You can now search the ads by gender, age, skill, and intent, among other things. Click on the image opposite.
To Labor for Another: Slavery at Monticello
Thomas Jefferson made a habit of inspecting his plantation in the afternoon to monitor the work of the 140 enslaved workers who worked at Monticello and his outlying farms. Always interested in measurements and record-keeping, Jefferson made extensive notations about his slaves and their duties in his Farm Book and Memorandum Books. For instance, he noted the rations his overseer distributed, the number of yards he purchased for clothing, the daily task required by particular enslaved individuals, and the cost of items purchased for use in the kitchen.
Race & Place: African American Community life in Charlottesville, VA
Race and Place is an archive about the racial segregation laws, or the 'Jim Crow' laws from the late 1880s until the mid-twentieth century. The focus of the collection is the town of Charlottesville in Virginia. The Jim Crow laws segregated African-Americans from white Americans in public places such as schools, and school buses. The archive contains photos, letters, two regional censuses and a flash map of the town of Charlottesville. The Jim Crow laws were not overturned until the important Brown versus Board of Education court ruling in 1954 (but not totally eliminated until the Civil Rights Act of the 1964).
We know that African Americans have crossed the border into Canada for various reasons. This site is a great tool to learn more:
Enslaved Africans in Upper Canada
We do not know who these people are. They had their portraits taken sometime during the 1870s or 1880s. The older people might have been slaves; perhaps the younger ones were descendants of slaves.
Sources by Type:
ORAL HISTORY PROJECTS
Civil Rights History (Library of Congress)
On May 12, 2009, the U. S. Congress authorized a national initiative by passing The Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-19). The law directed the Library of Congress (LOC) and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to conduct a national survey of existing oral history collections with relevance to the Civil Rights movement to obtain justice, freedom and equality for African Americans and to record and make widely accessible new interviews with people who participated in the struggle. The project was initiated in 2010 with the survey and with interviews beginning in 2011.
National Visionary Leadership Project
"NVLP has recorded and preserved more than 330 high-quality professional video interviews with extraordinary African-American elders, age 70 and older, through its Oral History Archive, housed in the U.S Library of Congress and available through the NVLP website. This amazing collection of conversations shows the elders significant triumphs achieved; personal and historic struggles overcome; and their breakthroughs that paved the way for us all. The Oral History Archive is the heart and soul of NVLP. It serves as both a tool and methodology, enabling us to impact schools and communities. Since our founding in 2001, we have witnessed the power of stories to change the lives of the leaders of tomorrow."
The archives of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute began the Oral History Project in 1995. This project captures first hand accounts of individuals involved in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s. As the project evolved, smaller projects came about to explore other civil rights efforts in the State of Alabama and the Birmingham area. Interviews are still being recorded and added to the collection.
African American Newspapers Added to Chronicling America
As of February 2022, we’ve added 1,224 new pages from 103 African American newspaper titles throughout 28 states and the District of Columbia. As we continue this project, more titles from the collection will be added very soon, so be sure to check our dynamic list of all digitized African American newspapers in Chronicling America. The list is updated as soon as we add new content.
Black Film Archive is a resource created by Maya Cade. In June 2020, she decided to start building it herself. Every word on Black Film Archive is thoroughly researched and lovingly written by her.
Brief and concise historical episodes of the African-American experience. Narrated by renowned historian, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and executive produced by Robert F. Smith.
#Slaveryarchive Book Club (on Youtube)
#SLAVERYARCHIVE Book Club: We meet at least once a month to discuss books about the history of slavery and the trade in enslaved persons of African descent. Check the full program for the next months here: https://slaveryarchive.wordpress.com/ This book club is convened by: Jessica M. Johnson (Johns Hopkins University) Ana Lucia Araujo (Howard University) Vanessa Holden (University of Kentucky) Alex Gil (Columbia University)
John Henry’s true story is deeply rooted in the post-Civil War South. After the war, Southern states had found a new form of free labor in their state penitentiaries. Unfortunately, most of the convict labor force was comprised of ex-slaves arrested in an unjust legal system. One of these men was named John William Henry who was arrested for larceny in 1866. He became part of the convict labor force responsible for digging the Lewis Tunnel, one of three tunnels built in the Allegheny Mountains. Like hundreds of other convicts, he never left the tunnel alive. [See: free archival guide]
PBS Documentary-- Egalite for All: Toussaint Louverture & The Haitian Revolution
UbuWeb Film & Video
UbuWeb is pleased to present thousands of avant-garde films & videos for your viewing pleasure. However, it is important to us that you realize that what you will see is in no way comparable to the experience of seeing these gems as they were intended to be seen: in a dark room, on a large screen, with a good sound system and, most importantly, with a roomful of warm, like-minded bodies. The following films are presented for educational and non-commercial use only. All copyrights belong to the artists. Top among my list includes work by Sun Ra; Black Panthers;
The US Medical System is Still Haunted by Slavery
Black women's history matters in medicine. Read ProPublica's feature piece on how the US is the most dangerous industrialized country in which to give birth, and racial disparities in maternal mortality make it even worse for women of color. And they're seeking your help in understanding the problem. If you nearly died during pregnancy or know someone who died due to childbirth related causes, check out this page for more information:
The Lost Neighborhood Under New York's Central Park
If you’ve been to New York, you’ve probably visited Central Park. But there’s a part of its story you won't see.
It’s a story that goes back to the 1820s, when that part of New York was largely open countryside. Soon it became home to about 1,600 people. Among them was a predominantly black community that bought up affordable plots to build homes, churches and a school. It became known as Seneca Village. And when Irish and German immigrants moved in, it became a rare example at the time of an integrated neighborhood.
Everything changed on July 21, 1853. New York took control of the land to create what would become the first major landscaped park in the US -- they called it “The Central Park.”
How Southern Socialites Rewrote Civil War History
The United Daughters of the Confederacy was a significant leader of the “Lost Cause,” an intellectual movement that revised history to look more favorably on the South after the American Civil War. They were women from elite antebellum families that used their social and political clout to fundraise and pressure local governments to erect monuments that memorialized Confederate heroes. They also formed textbook review committees that monitored what Southern schoolchildren learned about the war. Their influential work with children created a lasting memory of the Confederate cause, and those generations grew up to be the segregationists of the Jim Crow Era in the South.
When White Supremacists Overthrew a Government
In November 1898, in Wilmington, North Carolina, a mob of 2,000 white men expelled black and white political leaders, destroyed the property of the city’s black residents, and killed dozens--if not hundreds--of people. How did such a turn of events change the course of the city? For decades, the story of this violence was buried, while the perpetrators were cast as heroes. Yet its impacts resonate across the state to this day.
When Voting Rights Didn't Protect All Women
On this landmark 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, historians Martha S. Jones and Daina Ramey Berry reflect on what the 19th Amendment means for Black American women. The women’s suffrage movement was a predominantly white cause, one that sacrificed the involvement of Black suffragists in return for support for the 19th Amendment from Southern states. The 1920 legislation enfranchised all American women, but it left Black women, particularly those living in the South, to fight racial discrimination when registering to vote and going to the polls. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that this type of racial discrimination was prohibited by federal law. The voting rights fight is still not over, however. There’s evidence that restrictions to voting disproportionately affect minority populations — measures like voter ID laws, voting purges, gerrymandering, and closing polling locations.
The Massacre of Tulsa's "Black Wall Street"
Nearly 100 years ago, a white mob destroyed an American neighborhood called “Black Wall Street,” murdering an estimated 300 people in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That incident — known as the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre — has been largely left out of US history books. Today, a century later, the city still has a lot of questions. For one, where are the bodies of the victims? As the city's mayor re-opens the search for mass graves, we take a look at what happened back in 1921…and why finding these graves still matters to the people of Tulsa.
Oscar Micheaux wrote, produced and directed this groundbreaking motion picture considered one of the first of a genre that would become known as “race films.” Many critics have seen “Within Our Gates” as Micheaux's response to D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” in which African Americans were depicted as generally negative stereotypes, as they were in almost all films of the day. Despite Micheaux’s limited budget and limited production values, it still effectively confronted racism head on with its story of a teacher (Evelyn Preer) determined to start a school for poor black children. Contemporary viewers may find it difficult to defend Micheaux’s balancing act between authenticity and acceptability to white audiences, but that’s what he believed was necessary simply to get the film made. Named to the National Film Registry in 1992.
How Black Americans Were Robbed of Their Land
Over the course of the 20th century, black Americans have lost approximately 12 million acres of land. This mass land dispossession—a war waged by deed of title, which has affected 98 percent of black farmers—can only be called theft, says Atlantic writer Vann R. Newkirk II in a new documentary. The Scott family, from Mound Bayou, Mississippi, can trace their land ownership back to 1938, when the family’s agriculturally gifted patriarch began amassing more than 1,000 acres. By the late ‘80s, the Scotts had all but lost their land entirely. What happened in those intervening years is a complex story of systematic discrimination that’s emblematic of the experience of many black families in America. “If you look at the Scotts, what the land meant to them wasn't just money,” Newkirk says in the film. “It was destiny. It was something to hold onto. It was a purpose and something that held their family together through generations.”
Genealogist Who Tracks Down Modern-Day Slavery Practices
Slavery might have ended on paper after the Civil War, but many white landowners did everything they could to exploit newly freed slaves well into the 20th century. Thousands of black laborers across the South were forced to work against their will as late as the 1960s—a new form of enslavement that went on in the shadows of rural America. VICE's Akil Gibbons traveled to Louisiana to meet genealogist Antoinette Harrell, the “slavery detective of the South," who tracks down cases of modern-day slavery and abusive labor practices. They talk to a man whose family was held on a plantation against their will into the 1950s, and Antoinette explains how she uses decades-old records to uncover how slavery was perpetuated long after the Civil War ended.
Walk In My Shoes - feat. Dick Gregory's First TV Appearance (1961)
ABC Close Up Report - Walk in My Shoes (1961) was a landmark in TV history. Nominated for 3 Emmy awards, Nicholas Webster's documentary explores the state of Urban Black America from several perspectives. Associate produced by Louis Lomax (The Hate That Hate Produced), the film features interviews with regular people from different classes to understand how black people think, feel and survive. It is notable for including the first national TV appearances of comedian Dick Gregory (15:16) and extended footage of Malcolm X,, lawyer Percy Sutton and CORE founder James Farmer. A seldom-seen classic from the ABC News Archives, it s assumed to be in the public domain and as been uploaded under Fair Use.
I Shall Not Be Removed (1996)
This 58 minute film biography by Karen Everett provides a compelling portrait of Marlon Riggs and the profound impact his work has had on colleagues and the culture. The documentary traces his development from a precocious childhood in the close-knit African American community of Fort Worth, Texas, through his political awakening at Harvard, to his final years as a courageous advocate for free expression and on behalf of stigmatized people everywhere. Clips from all eight of Marlon's films show how he evolved a unique experimental documentary style, mixing poetry and criticism, the personal and the political. For more information on Marlon Riggs, visit http://newsreel.org/Riggs.asp
Standing on My Sisters' Shoulders (2002)
In 1965, when three women walked into the US House of Representatives in Washington D.C., they had come a very long way. Neither lawyers nor politicians, they were ordinary women from Mississippi, and descendants of African slaves. They had come to their country's capital seeking civil rights, the first black women to be allowed in the senate chambers in nearly 100 years.
A missing chapter in our nation's record of the Civil Rights movement, this powerful documentary reveals the movement in Mississippi in the 1950's and 60's from the point of view of the courageous women who lived it - and emerged as its grassroots leaders. Their living testimony offers a window into a unique moment when the founders' promise of freedom and justice passed from rhetoric to reality for all Americans.
Built-in Education Programs
The Black Family: United by History, Restored by Storytelling
"The Association for the Study of African American Life and History in collaboration with Archival Alchemy® presents, The Black Family: United by History, Restored by Storytelling. This national program centers the legacy of Black family reunions while encouraging families of all backgrounds to build and renew their own traditions and stories. This free self-guided certificate program includes pre-recorded workshops and resources that aim to demonstrate how oral storytelling, genealogy, and familial archiving can serve as a return and a way forward."
Smithsonian Transcription Center
The African American story is central to our nation’s history. Collections documenting the contributions of African Americans in countless fields, along with the struggles and achievements inherent to their stories, can be found in the records of every Smithsonian museum. Help us make these collections more accessible through transcription. Browse projects below and learn more by searching our blog, and by visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
As part of the USF Enhanced General Education Program, University of Southern Florida students are required to take 3 hours in Ethical Reasoning and Civic Engagement (ERCE).
Annual Conference/Application Schedule
List of Places to Submit for Publication
Process: A Blog in American History