African American History

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This guide is designed to help you research information about African American History. It includes an index of scholarly sources, as well as a list of websites and search engines that will be helpful in your research. If you have any trouble finding these sources or need help narrowing down a specific research topic, please ask a librarian for help. Good Luck! Any comments or suggestions are welcome!
  • RCC Library Home Page: Most materials found in this research guide are available at the library's home page.
  • Reference Desk: Please contact the library if you have any questions concerning this guide or research.



The on-line catalog provides access to the Library's collection of approximately 40,000 books, periodicals and audio-visual titles. These resources may be used to find information for assignments or general interest.
Tutorial for searching catalog and ordering books from MBLN

Helpful Search Terms:

  • "African American History"
  • "Black History"
  • "Civil Rights"
  • "Black" or "African" and "Diaspora"
  • "Multicultural" and "History"

New Books

Plummer, Brenda. In Search of Power. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Print.
Call Number: E185.615 .P5435 2013

Henderson, Simon. Sidelined: how American sports challenged the black freedom struggle. Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, 2013. Print.
Call Number: GV706.32 .H46 2013
Whitaker, Matthew C. Peace be Still: modern black America from World War II to Barack Obama. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 2013. Print.
Call Number: E185.6 .W57 2013
Parfitt, Tudor. Black Jews in Africa and the Americas. Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 2013. Print.
Call Number: DS135.A25 P368 2013
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. and Donal Yacovone. The African Americans: Many rivers to cross. Carlsbad: SmileyBooks, 2013. Print.
Call Number: E185 .G26 2013

Reference Books

General Reference
Walton, Hanes, Sherman C. Puckett, and Donald R. Deskins. The African American Electorate : a Statistical History. Thousand Oaks. : CQ Press, 2012. Print.
Call Number: JK1924 .W35 2012 v.1-2
Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Henry Louise Gates, Jr., eds. Africana: Arts and Letters. Philadelphia : Running Press, 2004. Print.
Call Number: E1 85 .E556 2004
Hine, Darlene Clark. Black Women in America. 2nd ed. New York : Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
Call Number: E185.86 .B542 2005
Drew, Bernard A. 100 Most Popular African-American Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies, Westport : Libraries Unlimited, 2007. Print.
Call Number: PS153.N5 D74 2007
Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks, ed. The Harvard Guide to African-American History. Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 2001. Print.
Call Number: E185 .H326 2001

King, Stewart R., ed. Encyclopedia of free Blacks and People of Color in the Americas. New York : Facts On File, 2012. Print.
Call Number: E29.N3 E53 2012 v.1-2.
Hinks, Peter and John McKivigan, eds. Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition. Westport. : Greenwood Press, 2007. Print.
Call Number: HT1031 .E53 2007 v.1-2.
Fineklman, Paul, ed. Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present : from the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-First Century. New York : Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.
Call Number: E185 .E5453 2009 v.1-5.
Rucker, Walter and James Nathaniel Upton, eds. Encyclopedia of American Race Riots. Westport : Greenwood Press, 2007. Print.
Call Number: E184.A1 E573 2007 v.1-2
Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion, 2007. E447. E53 2007.

Circulating Books

Horton, James Oliver. Landmarks of African American History.New York : Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
Call Number: E185 .H6444 2005
Coddington, Ronald S. African American Faces of the Civil War. Baltimore : The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012. Print.
Call Number: E540.N3 C64 2012
Waldschmidt-Nelson, Britta.: Dreams and Nightmares : Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Struggle for Black Equality in America. Gainesville : University Press of Florida, 2012. Print.
Call Number: E185.97.K5 W234 2012
Taylor, Quintard. From Timbuktu to Katrina: Readings in African-American History. Boston : Thomson Wadsworth, 2008. Print.
Call Number: E184.6 T395 2008 v.2

Newman, Brooke. Jenniemae & James: A Memoir in Black and White. New York : Harmony Books, 2010. Print.
Call Number: F205.A1 N49 2010.

Kantrowitz, Stephen David. More than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic. New York: Penguin Press, 2012. Print.
Call Number: F73.9.N4 K36 2012
Pinkney, Andrea Davis. Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men who Changed America. New York: Disney/Jump at the Sun, 2012. Print.
Call Number: E185.86 .P56 2012
Countryman, Edward. Enjoy the Same Liberty: Black Americans and the Revolutionary Era. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012.
Call Number: E269.N3 C68 2012
Asante, Molefi. The African American People: A Global History. New York: Routledge, 2012.
Call Number: E185 .A796 2012


African American Experience : An Historiographical & Bibliographical Guide
Strickland, Arvarh E. and Robert E. Weems, Jr., eds. African American Experience : An Historiographical & Bibliographical Guide. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2001. Web.

African American Life in the Rural South, 1900-1950
Hurt, R. Douglas, ed. African American Life in the Rural South, 1900-1950. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003. Web.

Ragged but Right : Black Traveling Shows, "Coon Songs," and the Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz
Abbott, Lynn. Ragged but Right : Black Traveling Shows, "Coon Songs," and the Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007. Web.

Hammer in Their Hands : A Documentary History of Technology and the African-American Experience
Pursell, Carroll, ed. Hammer in Their Hands : A Documentary History of Technology and the African-American Experience. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005. Web.

If You Don't Go, Don't Hinder Me : The African American Sacred Song Tradition
Reagon, Bernice Johnson. If You Don't Go, Don't Hinder Me : The African American Sacred Song Tradition. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001. Web.

Streaming Videos

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns (10 parts, 110 mins. each)
A study and celebration of America’s greatest original art form, Ken Burns’s ten-part documentary series opens at the dawn of the 20th century and crosses the decades with the exuberance and expressive power of jazz itself. Each episode sheds light on cultural and historical milestones as it introduces viewers to the unforgettable names and accomplishments of the music. From the cradle of New Orleans to the crucibles of Chicago and New York City… from the Harlem Renaissance to the Great Depression to World War II and beyond… Jazz paints an astonishing portrait of a nation and the sound that both captured and set free its spirit. Distributed by PBS Distribution.
(Click on "Related Videos" on the right to also view parts 2-10.)

African-American Lives: Listening to Our Past (4 parts, 54 mins. each)
The first African-American Lives series revealed the power that comes from discovering one’s family history. In this second four-part series, Henry Louis Gates Jr. guides a new group of guests through poignant, eye-opening revelations of ancestry and inheritance. Drawing on DNA analysis, genealogical research, and family oral tradition, Professor Gates ushers Maya Angelou, Morgan Freeman, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Tina Turner, and others into the distant past, then reconnects it to the present. In doing so, he helps viewers tap into rich veins of U.S. history while highlighting its profound connection with Africa. Distributed by PBS Distribution.
(Click on "Related Videos" on the right to also view parts 2-4.)

We Shall Not Be Moved: African-American Churches in the Civil Rights Era (44 minutes)
Using a rich supply of archival photographs and film footage as well as firsthand accounts from pastors, activists, and community members, this program gives long-overdue attention to the pivotal role of African-American churches in the civil rights movement. Interviews feature former NAACP executive director Dr. Benjamin Hooks; diplomat, political luminary, and civil rights veteran Andrew Young; 1963 March on Washington organizer Rev. Abraham Lincoln Woods; National Baptist Convention historian Dr. Wilson Fallin; and many others. Viewers learn how the spiritual centers of Southern black life served as places for inspiring, strategizing, and implementing the greatest social and cultural paradigm shift of 20th-century America.

Thurgood Marshall: Justice for All (45 minutes)
Through archival footage, period accounts, and candid interviews, this episode of Biography chronicles the monumental life of the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court. Distributed by A&E Television Networks.


Browse these paper journals and magazines in the library's periodicals section for articles about African American History.
  • Black History Bulletin
  • Bay State Banner
  • The International Review of African American Art


Access to millions of journal, magazine, newspaper and reference source articles through our research databases.
This database is a collection of primary sources and articles on African American history and life from it’s roots in Africa to the present. Includes: Online reference books, manuscripts, speeches, court cases, quotations, advertisements, statistics and interviews.
This database contains peer-reviewed, full-text articles from journals and other reference sources. It covers physical sciences, technology, medicine, social sciences, the arts, theology, literature and other subjects.
Search Elite contains full text for more than 2,000 journals, including more than 1,500 peer-reviewed titles.
Provides full text for more than 3,800 scholarly publications covering academic areas of study including African american History.
This database contains more than 400,000 biographies on nearly 275,000 people gathered from over 90 reference sources as well as 250 magazines. Search for one or more of these fields: birth and death year, nationality, ethnicity, occupation or gender. Also includes links to articles and web pages.

Through the Credo Reference database, RCC students can gain access to any of a possible 2,977,685 entries, from 284 titles and 57 publishers

Web sites

There are many web sites available on African American History. These web sites listed below have been evaluated by library staff. Remember to always evaluate internet resources. To find out more about evaluating web sites, Cornell University has a helpful guide to assist you.

African American Odyssey

An exhibit developed by the Library of Congress, African American Odyssey provides online access to "more than 240 items, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings."

African American World-PBS

A multimedia web-site from PBS, African American World contains audio, video and source documents from African-American History and culture as well as links to recent related coverage from sources such as NPR and PBS Presents.

Museum of African American History

Located in Boston and Nantucket, "The Museum of African American History is dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans in New England from the colonial period through the 19th century." The website includes information on current or upcoming events and exhibits, as well as the Black Heritage Trail, "a walking tour that explores the history of Boston's 19th century African American community."

Civil Rights Digital Library

The Civil Rights Digital Library promotes an enhanced understanding of the Movement by helping users discover primary sources and other educational materials from libraries, archives, museums, public broadcasters, and others on a national scale. It includes 1,000s of multi-media materials; including: a collection of unedited news film from the WSB and WLB (Albany, Ga.) television archives held by the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia Libraries. The CRDL provides educator resources and contextual materials, including Freedom on Film, relating instructive stories and discussion questions from the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia, and the New Georgia Encyclopedia, delivering engaging online articles and multimedia.

The Crisis Magazine--Google Archive

Read full-text back issues of the The Crisis magazine for years 1910-2008. The Crisis is the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was founded by W.E.B. Du Bois in 1910.

W.E.B.Du Bois Institute (Harvard University)

Named after the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University (1895) and directed by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Du Bois Institute is the nation's oldest research center dedicated to the study of the history, culture, and social institutions of Africans and African Americans. The site includes the famed "Hip Hop Archive," photo archive of African Americans, and publications and projects.

Bio: Black History

Hosted by the A&E television network, is a resource for biographies, photos, videos, study guides and links to groups of African-Americans throughout our nation's history.

Citing Sources: Style Guides

These resouces will help you to correctly cite any sources you use in your research.

APA Style Tutorial
Laguardia Community College Library MLA and APA citation style

The Owl at Purdue: APA Formatting and Style Guide

The Owl at Purdue: MLA 2009 Formatting and Style Guide

Basic Research Help

Please click the Ask a Librarian icon if you have any questions concerning these guides, need help finding material for your research or any general questions you might have.

General Library Information

Research guide prepared on 11/06/08 by Kathleen Keleher, updated on 6/28/2010 by Katharine Dunn.
Updated 02/02/12. Updated 5/15/13 by Mallory Wilson; updated on 03/11/2014 by Katie Bliss.