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African American Studies

Primary and selected secondary sources for research in African American Studies at Princeton University.

BlackPast.Org "is dedicated to providing the inquisitive public with comprehensive, reliable, and accurate information concerning the history of African Americans in the United States and people of African ancestry in other regions of the world. It is the aim of the founders and sponsors to foster understanding through knowledge in order to generate constructive change in our society."

Digital Harlem

The Digital Harlem website presents information, drawn from legal records, newspapers and other archival and published sources, about everyday life in New York City's Harlem neighborhood.  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.

Internet Resources

Library of Congress.  American Memory Historical Collections for the National Digital Library. African-American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907. 
    Daniel A. P. Murray worked at the Library of Congress from 1871-1923.  During his period of employment he selected a variety of pamphlets for the 1900 Paris Exposition exhibit of Negro Authors.  Following the Exposition, the Library of Congress used these works to create the Collection of Books by Colored Authors.  Murray also maintained a private collection of books and pamphlets which he later donated to LC in 1926.  Twenty-two volumes of bound pamphlets from his private collection form the digitized collection of 351 titles.  A very rich resource for sermons, speeches, prayers, annual reports of charitable, educational, and political organizations; voting rights, violence against African-Americans, and the colonization of Africa by freed slaves.

__________.  American Memory Historical Collections for the National Digital Library.  Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938. 
    The Works Progress Administration, also known as the Works Project Administration, was established by Congress in 1935 for emergency job programs during the Depression.  The Federal Writers' Project of the WPA employed over four thousand writers who wrote important studies of black culture.  A series of books describing the histories and folkways of rural and urban American was produced under the American Guide Series.  The rural studies component of the American Guide Series resulted in the production of  in-depth interviews with over 2000 ex-slaves.

__________.  American Memory Historical Collections for the National Digital Library.  From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1824-1909. 
    The 397 titles were selected from the miscellaneous pamphlet collection in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.  The majority of pamphlets were written by African-Americans who hoped to educate the public about the plight of people in bondage.  The richness and variety of materials include such items as first-person accounts of slavery, sermons, organizational proceedings, and legislative and presidential campaign materials.  This collection complements the African-American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907.

__________.  American Memory Historical Collections for the National Digital Library.  Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860. 
    Drawn from the resources of the Law Library and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, users may access first-hand accounts of trials and cases, reports, arguments, examinations of cases and decisions, proceedings, journals, and other primary historical materials.  Although limited to 105 items, some of the more noteworthy works include the Case of Dred Scott in the United States Supreme Court, the Trial of John Brown, and the Argument of John Quincy Adams, before the Supreme Court of the United States, which is also known as the Amistad Case.

New York Public Library.  Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.  Digital Schomburg African-American Women Writers of the 19th Century. 
    During the nineteenth-century, laws were enacted banning the teaching of reading and writing to the majority of African-Americans held in bondage.  Inspite of laws limiting access to education many did learn to read and write.  As part of the Digital Schomburg, this web site provides full-text access to 50 literary works produced by African-American women in the nineteenth-century.

St. Louis Circuit Court Historical Records Project.  Freedom Suits in Missouri. 
    Between 1814 and 1860, nearly 300 enslaved persons in St. Louis sued their owners for wrongful servitude in Missouri courts.  The most famous case was the 1846 petition filed by Dred Scott and his wife Harriet.  Collectively these cases became known as the St. Louis Circuit Court Freedom Suits which are part of the larger St. Louis Circuit Court Case File Records Series.  So far, these cases represent the largest collection of freedom suits filed by enslaved persons in nineteenth-century America.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Slave Trade Archives Project. 
    Under the auspices of UNESCO, this project is one of the first international efforts to document, preserve, and digitize original archival materials and finding aids of the international trade in slaves during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  So far, the following countries have agreed to participae in the project: Angola, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haïti, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries.  Documenting the American South: North American Slave Narratives. 
    "Digitized narratives of fugitive and former slaves published in broadsides, pamphlets or book forms in English up to 1920, and many biographies of former slaves as well."

______________.  The Sonia Haynes Stone Center Library for Black History and Culture.  Guide to the Web . The guide is a valuable resource for scholars and other researchers interested in African, African American, and African Diaspora history and culture. Over 1,000 sites are available in the searchable guide which is also browseable by subjects. The topics covered range from the underground railroad to hip hop music.

University of Virginia.  American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology. 
    This web page provides samples of slave narratives with photographs drawn from The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography.  Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1972-79.  (F) 1083.122

University of Virginia.  Electronic Text Center - Modern English Collection through the World Wide Web.  African-American. 
    The African-American section of the Modern English Collection presents literary texts by and about African-Americans published from 167 C.E. to 1993.

Yale University.  The Avalon Project: Documents on Slavery. 
    The Avalon Project at the Yale University Law School brings together digitized primary documents, treaties, speeches, and biographical texts relevant to the fields of history, economics, politics, law, diplomacy and government. The documents on slavery include literary works, federal and state statutes, and treaties and agreements concerning the slave trade.  Coverage spans pre-eighteenth century to the twenty-first century.


Umbra: Search African American History "is a freely available discovery tool, created for use by the public for the research and study of African American history and culture. It assembles a national collection of digital materials—images, videos, books, and more—for use by scholars, artists, parents, students, and educators. Materials displayed in Umbra are provided by libraries, museums, and other repositories around the country."