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AAS 353: African American Literature: Origins to 1910

Scholarly Conversation

To better understand the primary source material you are encountering, you may wish to read up on what other scholars have written.

To find books, please use the Library Catalog

Drop the menu to Subject (keyword), and enter the title of the work.  The results will include scholarly analyses of the work.

Alternatively, you can Drop the menu to Subject (keyword), and enter the name of the author.  This will return biographies (which often include critical analyses of the author's works) as well as reviews and criticism.  


To find journal articles, please consult one of the following:

MLA International Bibliography

Literature Resource Center

Black Studies Center





Personal Papers



Legal materials

Finding Primary Sources in Books

Some primary sources are collected in books, which you can find the library catalog.

To find the papers of an individual, search for that person as an author, e.g. Douglass, Frederick

To find the records of an organization or government body, use the name of the organization as an author e.g. American Anti-Slavery Society

Include one of these words as a keyword or a subject:

  • sources
  • diaries
  • correspondence
  • [place name]—Description and travel
  • personal narrative

If you find something that looks useful, look at the detailed view of the catalog record and try to identify the "subject" assigned. For many topics in history, there's an official term used in all Anglo-American library catalogs, like:

  • Slaves—United States—Correspondence 
  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)—Sources 
  • African American women--diaries

To find works published in a particular time and place, explore the search options. It is usually possible to  limit your search by date, language, or location of publication. 

For Context