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10 Online Library Resources to Explore for Black History Month

February 1, 2019

Celebrate Black History Month in February by perusing these online resources available through the Libraries!

1. HistoryMakers


Barack Obama recounts his college years in this HistoryMakers oral history.

HistoryMakers is an extensive video oral history collection of prominent African Americans. Each interview is divided into several “stories,” video clips that describe a particular life event. The HistoryMakers are from all regions of the United States, were prominent in a wide variety of fields, and tell stories that span the twentieth century.

2. Black Women Writers


Cover of Martha Ward's Voodoo Queen: The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau (detail).

With over 100,000 pages of fiction, poetry, and essays, Black Women Writers includes works of women writers from the African nations and African diaspora, documenting their identities, cultural backgrounds and social activism. The coverage includes writings by authors including Ida B. Wells, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Sonia Sanchez (US), Maryse Conde (Guadeloupe), Edwidge Danticat (Haiti), Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana), Grace Ogot (Kenya), Michelle Cliff (Jamaica), Bessie Head (South Africa), and many others.

3. African American Newspapers


The Freedmen's Journal, 1865.

African American Newspapers is a full-text database of the following newspapers published by and for African Americans:

  • Christian Recorder (Philadelphia: 1861-1902 [excluding 1892])
  • Colored American (New York: 1837-1841)
  • Douglass' Monthly (Rochester, NY: 1859-1863)
  • Frederick Douglass' Paper (Rochester, NY: 1851-1855)
  • Freedom's Journal (New York: 1827-1829)
  • National Era (Washington, D.C.: 1847-1860)
  • North Star (Rochester, NY: 1847-1851)
  • Provincial Freeman (Chatham, Ontario): 1854-1857)
  • Weekly Advocate (New York: 1837)

4. Independent Voices


Volume 1, Issue 1 of Black Dialogue, 1965.

Independent Voices is a full-text database of alternative press newspapers, magazines, and journals published in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century, mostly in the 1960s and 1970s. These periodicals were produced by radical student organizations; LGBT, African American, Native American, and Latino activists; feminists, dissident military personnel, and others. The database also includes a fairly wide selection of “little magazines,” small literary journals publishing experimental and avant-garde works.

5. African Writers Series


Cover of Tayeb Salih's The Wedding of Zein (detail).

African Writers Series features more than 250 volumes of fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction prose, including works by Chinua Achebe, Ama Ata Aidoo, Steve Biko, Buchi Emecheta, Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, Doris Lessing, Nelson Mandela, Dambudzo Marechera, Christopher Okigbo, Okot p'Bitek and Tayeb Salih. A particular strength of this collection is the inclusion of women's poetry from The Heimemann Book of African Women's Poetry (1995).

6. Black Drama: 1850 to the Present


Cover of Derek Walcott's adaptation of The Odyssey (detail).

Black Drama contains the full text of 1,200 plays written from the mid-1800s to the present by 201 playwrights from North America, English-speaking Africa, the Caribbean, and other African diaspora countries. Many of the works are rare, hard-to-find, or out of print. The collection includes more than 400 previously unpublished plays by writers such as Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, Randolph Edmonds, Femi Euba, Zora Neale Hurston, and many others. Each play is extensively and deeply indexed, allowing both keyword and multi-field searching. The plays are accompanied by reference materials, significant ancillary information, a rich performance database, and images.

7. Black Thought and Culture


Cover of Assata Shakur's Assata: An Autobiography (detail).

Black Thought and Culture offers the full text of approximately 100,000 pages of non-fiction writing by leading figures in African American life and culture, including Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida Wells, A. Phillip Randolph, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesse Jackson, and hundreds of others. It includes articles and essays, monographs, speeches, interviews, pamphlets, and correspondence. Approximately 20 percent is previously unpublished, including transcripts from the Columbia University Oral History Project. Also available online for the first time is the complete run of the Black Panther newspaper, 1966 through 1980.

8. American History in Video


Oh, Freedom!, directed by Bill Buckley (1970), chronicles the story of the Civil Rights Movement.

American History in Video allows students and researchers to analyze historical events and their presentation over time, through commercial and governmental newsreels, archival footage, public affairs footage, and important documentaries. Sources include PBS, WGBH Boston, The History Channel, and the National Archives. Historical categories of interest range from the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the American Civil War to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.

9. Jazz Oral History Project


"Eke's Blues" (undated) from the Ismay and George Duvivier Papers at the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers–Newark.

The Jazz Oral History Project features an audio collection consisting of 120 oral histories of seminal pre-Swing Era and Swing Era jazz musicians recorded between 1972 and 1983. The JOHP was initiated in 1972 by the Jazz Advisory Panel of the Music Program of the National Endowment for the Arts. Musicians 60 years and older (as well as several younger artists in poor health) were interviewed in depth about their lives and careers. The taped interviews range in length from five to 35 hours each and are accompanied by typewritten transcripts.

10. Research Guides


The Black Organization of Students occupies Rutgers–Newark's Conklin Hall, 1969.

Our research guides in African Studies and African American Studies have been curated by subject expert librarians and serve as helpful portals into an array of sub-topics, ranging from Caribbean Aesthetics to Race and Racism in the United States.