African American History OERs
Updated: May 10
Here is a running list of open educational resources I use to develop my courses. As my Winter Term classes end, I'm sharing this in solidarity with others who are working through Spring syllabi plans.
(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 textbook-- To Make Our World Anew, Vol. 1 &2.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.
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.
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.
“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."
How Did We Get Here?: 163 years of The Atlantic’s writing on race and racism in America.
Lectures in Black Studies
Michigan State African American Studies
Auburn Africana Lectures
Princeton University Toni Morrison Lectures
The Tight Rope https://www.youtube.com/hashtag/thetightrope Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture https://soundcloud.com/nypl/sets/schomburg-visiting-scholars https://livestream.com/schomburgcenter University of North Carolina @ Chapel Hill https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCtywHUnb4fgdIf9Y11LoyQ Western Carolina University https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClTv5h48e8vbGdswG5mdkKw Amherst College https://www.amherst.edu/news/campus_community_events/virtual/provosts-seminar-series The University of Texas at Austin https://liberalarts.utexas.edu/caaas/events/past.php
Sources by Era:
Online Primary Sources for the American Revolution (curated by Dr. Terry Bouton)
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.
Wartime Emancipation and Reconstruction
The Cold War/McCarthyism
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.
Mid to Late 20th Century African American Life
African American Experience Photography Archive (1930-1980)
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, 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 (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.
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, 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."
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. showcasing many of the treasures found in the Memphis and Shelby County Room.
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.
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.
District of Columbia
Civil War Washington
Maryland WPA Slave Records
Montgomery County, MD African American History
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
History of African Methodism in Virginia; or Four Decades in the Old Dominion - Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries)
Sources by Type:
ORAL HISTORY PROJECTS
Civil Rights History (Library of Congress)
"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.
Visit bcriohp.org to for the complete BCRI Oral History Project Collection.
Topics [Chronological Order]:
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.
PBS Series and Educational Materials
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.
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.
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.
Black women’s suffrage.
Thousands of artifacts.
Thousands of stories.
The Great Migration
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
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.
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;
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: https://www.propublica.org/article/no... 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: http://propub.li/2Ae5RMi
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.