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Research Quick Start Guides

African American Studies

Encyclopedias | Bibliographies | Indexes | Biographical Sources | Statistics | Other Libraries | Internet Resources

Stanford University Libraries contains many titles on the historical and contemporary experience of African Americans, making it an excellent place for students conducting research in this area. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of African American Studies, relevant titles are often dispersed throughout the general collection depending upon subject matter. Use Socrates, Stanford's online catalog, to locate books and other materials. Use the library's print or electronic indexes to locate journal articles and published papers.

Encyclopedias, Handbooks, Dictionaries

Encyclopedias, Handbooks, Dictionaries, etc. can provide useful descriptions, overviews, and lists of recommended reading on a topic.

The ABC-CLIO Companion to the Civil Rights Movement (Green Library HASRC (Lane Room) E185.61 G895 1993) A guide to the Civil Rights struggle from the end of the great Civil War to the present day. It contains concise, encyclopedic entries arranged in alphabetical order.

The African American Almanac (Green Library Information Center E185 .N385 2000). Includes significant documents, a list of "Black Firsts," essays on history, art, film, the military, and organizations.

The African American Encyclopedia (Green Library Information Center E185 A253 1993) A six volume set on the subject of African American life, contains bibliographies and essays on variety of topics. Broader in scope than the Encyclopedia of Black America (below).

Black Firsts: 2,000 Years of Extraordinary Achievement (Green Library Information Center E185. B574 1994) A collection of nearly 3,000 most-significant firsts achieved by blacks, with and emphasis on African-American efforts.

Black Women in America (Green Library Information Center E185.86 B543 1993) this two volume set contains biographies of individual Black women along with articles on organizations and topics (e.g. "Sexual Harassment," "Religion," "Beauty Culture") which played a central role in black women's history.

Chronology of African-American History: Significant Events and People from 1619 to the Present (Green Library Information Center E185. H64 1991) Entries are arranged chronologically by year and then by month and day and include important births and deaths, thumbnail biographies, rebellions, demonstrations, elections, and awards.

The Timetables of African-American History : a chronology of the most important people and events in African-American history (Green Library Information Center E185 .H295 1995)

Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery (Green Library Information Center E441. D53 1997) is the most comprehensive work of it's kind, including a chronology and articles on events, people, laws, and subjects related to slavery in the US. References to the best published sources on each subject are appended.

Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights : from emancipation to the present (Green Library HASRC (Lane Room) and Stacks E185.61 .E54 1992 ) Contains over 800 short articles on a wide variety of individuals, organizations, events and court cases focussing on the period since emancipation.

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (Green Library Information Center E185. E54 1996) This 5 volume set covers all aspects of the African American experience. It contains biographic essays, entries on events, legal cases, areas of cultural achievement (music, architecture, the visual arts), professions, sports, and places.

Encyclopedia of African American Religions (Green Library Information Center BR563 .N4E53 1993) covers African American religious leaders and groups, and major issues raised by the development of African American religious life. Contains a chronology and a directory.

Encyclopedia of Black America, 1981 (Green Library Information Center E185 .E55) is a comprehensive resource to all aspects of African American life: contains articles and brief biographical entries. "Bibliographies/Biographies/Guides" (pp. 174-179) cites many useful sources.

Encyclopedia of Black Studies (Green Library Information Center E185.E554 2005) looks at the field of Black Studies "the research activity, concepturalization, and peadagogy of Black Studies scholars."

Encyclopedia of Minorities in American Politics (Green Library Information Center E184 .A1 E574 2000; also available on ebrary - download reader before using ebrary for the first time) "entries cover people, events, court cases, movements, and organizations that have shaped the political struggles of African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans."

Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (Green Library Information Center and Stacks F209 .E53 1989) includes a chapter on "Black Life" in the South.

The Harlem Renaissance: An Historical Dictionary for the Era (Green Library Information Center and Stacks NX511 .N4H37 1984) is a source book of important people, works of art, places and other facets of this 1920's period.

Juba to Jive: A Dictionary of African-American Slang (Green Library Information Center PE3727 .N4 M34 1994) Contains definitions, etymologies, and cross-references for common and obscure African American expressions.

Masterpieces of African-American Literature (Green Library Information Center PS153.N5 M264 1992) Contains 149 essays on works of literature by African American Authors, arranged alphabetically by title.


Bibliographies can help you identify books and articles on a subject. They may include short descriptions called annotations. There are many that deal with African Americans. In Socrates look for Topics with the subheading --Bibliography, or use the Bibliographic Index (Green Library Information Center Z1002.B594) or browse near the ones listed below.

African-American Woman: Social and Economic Conditions (Green Library Information Center Z7164 .S66 C66 NO.32 ) Contains citations for books, pamphlets, dissertations, government documents, works from small presses and activist organizations on topics such as: female-headed families, education, health, AIDS, crime, violence against African-American women, teen pregnancy, male/female relationships, families, feminism, and politics.

African-American Mosaic (Federal Documents LC 1.6/4:AF8 & on Web) a collection of (book) bibliographies in essay form that covers topics such as slavery, the Antebellum period, Civil War, Reconstruction, World War I and World War, as well as the Civil Rights Era.

African Americans: Social and Economic Conditions (Green Library Information Center Z7164.S66 C66 v. 27, 1992) a collection of bibliographies on topics such as: education, social conditions, crime and criminal justice, health, AIDS, substance abuse, environmental issues, women, men, family, youth, and statistics.

Afro-American Folk Culture, (2 volumes) 1978 (Green Library HASRC (Lane Room) Z5984 .A44S95) covers writings on black culture from North, Central and South America, as well as the West Indies.

Afro-American History: A Bibliography (Green Library Information Center Z1361 .N39S56) is a two-volume set containing approximately 7,000 abstracts of journal articles from America: History and Life (1954-78).

Afro-Americans and Africa: Black Nationalism at the Crossroads 1977 (Green Library Information Center Z3507 .A45 n.s. no. 3) contains 400 entries on this subject.

A Bibliographical Guide to African-American Women Writers (Green Library Information Center Z1229 .N39J67) Focuses on both the creative products of black women and the critical citations about the writers. Covers writers from 1746 to 1991.

Black Adolescence: Current Issues and Annotated Bibliography (Green Library Information Center Z1361 .N39B495 1990) Covers the topics of psycho-social development, psychological health, physical health, drug abuse, suicide, academic performance, education and occupational choice, employment, family-adolescent relationships, sexuality and contraception, and teen parenting.

Black American Writers: Bibliographical Essays , 2 volumes 1978 (Green Library Information Center PS153 .N5B55) covers criticism and works by major black writers.

The Black Family in the United States (Green Library Information Center & Stacks Z1361 .N39.D355 1986) includes books, articles and dissertations on the state of the Black family from slavery to contemporary times.

Black Rhetoric: A Guide to Afro-American Communication 1976 (Green Library Information Center Z1361 .N39G55) focuses on speeches and essays by African Americans (1760 to 1973), as well as articles and books.

Black Separatism: A Bibliography 1976 (Green Library Information Center Z1229 .N39J67) includes works that explore both the historical and contemporary dimensions of black separatism in the US.

Black Women in Television: An Illustrated History and Bibliography (Green Library Information Center PN1992.8 A34 H55 1990) This book spans 50 years (1939-1989) of television history and highlights the exceptional contributions Black women have made to the medium. Contains extensive bibliographies broken down into subject such as "Personalities", "Programs", "News/Sports", "Off-Camera" and others.

Civil Rights Movement: References and Resources (Green Library Information Center Z1361.N39 M93 1993) Gathers all the significant published studies about the civil rights movement in the southern United States between 1955 and 1968 (from the arrest of Rosa Parks to the assassination of Martin Luther King).

The Progress of Afro-American Women 1980 (Green Library HASRC (Lane Room) Z1361 .N39 S52) one of the most comprehensive work covering the experience of black women in the US. Non-print as well as printed materials are included.

Women of Color in the United States (Green Library Information Center Z79 .U49 R4 1989) concentrates on recent (1975+) scholarly works on African American and other minority women. Along with the previous bibliography, it is the most current source on women cited here.

Periodical Indexes

Indexes (in paper and electronic formats) can help you identify articles in magazines, newspapers, scholarly journals and other resources. Those restricted to the Stanford community are marked with the icon. For other indexes see the Databases and Green Library CD-ROMs lists.

Alternative Press Index (Green Library Information Center Z7164 .S66 A5 1969 +, Web 1991+) Indexes periodicals that present a more politically "left" or controversial point-of-view.

Alt-PressWatch provides fulltext of "a collection of newspapers, magazines and journals of the alternative and independent press."

America: History and Life (1964+) covers U.S. and Canadian history. Includes abstracts

Black Studies on Disc SUNet ID required (1988+ ) contains the Catalog of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and 1988+ of the Index to Black Periodicals (see information on print holdings below.) Contains information on materials by and about African Americans, Africa and peoples of African ancestry.

ERIC various ways to search for works in education

Essay and General Literature Index (1985+ available on the Web; 1900+ shelved at Green Library Information Center AI3.E752) an author/subject index to essays published in collections, with particular emphasis on materials in the humanities and social sciences.

Ethnic Newswatch (1960+) full-text database of newspapers, magazines and journals (in English or Spanish) of the ethnic and minority press.

Expanded Academic ASAP general index to over 1500 magazines with some fulltext. (1980+) Click Proceed.

Humanities Index (1974+ Green Library Information Center AI3.H8) Author/subject index to periodicals in fields such as area studies, folklore, history, language, literature, philosophy, religion & theology.

Index to Black Periodicals (1984+ Green Library Information Center Z1361.N39I55; also 1988+ on Black Studies on Disc ) (Formerly: Index to Periodical Articles by and about Blacks 1950-69; 1971-83). Indexes African-American periodicals of general and scholarly interest.

MLA Bibliography (1963+) literature, languages, and folklore. Paper volumes for 1921-1963 are shelved at Green Library Information Center Z7006.M64.

PAIS International, 1972+ ; 1915+ volumes are shelved at Green Library Information Center Z7163.P9) indexes selected books, government documents, and periodical articles on contemporary public issues and the making of public policy.

Psycinfo (1887+) indexes and abstracts books, periodicals and other literature in psychology. Also Available from OVID.

Social Sciences and Humanities Index (formerly International Index to Periodicals) 1907-1974. (Green Library Information Center AI3.S6)

Social Sciences Index, 1974+ (Green Library Information Center AI3S62; abstracts beginning in 1994 ) Author/subject index to periodicals in fields such as anthropology, economics, family studies, geography, international relations, law and criminology, political science, policy studies, psychology, social work, sociology, and urban studies.

Sociological Abstracts (1963+) (1952-1973 shelved at Green Library Information Center HM1.S67) Indexes articles concerned spectrum of social behavior (individuals, small groups, large organizations, communities, institutions, and societies). Covers sociology and related disciplines such as anthropology, criminology, law, social psychology, urban studies, race relations, demography, and education.

Women Studies Abstracts (1972+ shelved at Green Library Information Center Z7962/W65; 1984+ also in Women's Studies International on the Web) indexes feminist and scholarly books and periodicals.

Women's Studies Index (1989-2002 shelved at Green Library Information Center HQ1180.W68; also on Web as Women's Studies on Disc 2002) indexes a wide range of periodicals.

Biographical Sources

African American authors, 1745-1945 : bio-bibliographical critical sourcebook (Green Library Information Center PS153 .N5 A32 2000).

Black Biography, 1790-1950: a Cumulative Index (Green Library Information Center and Media Microtext Z1361.N39 B52, 1991, vols. 1-3) An index to the Black Biographical Dictionaries microfiche (mfiche 1182 in the Current Periodicals Microtext Room), containing over 30,000 names of historical figures, authors, religious personages, sports legends, and representatives of every conceivable aspect of African American culture and society.

Biography Resource Center Includes many of the Gale fulltext biographical products, plus The Complete Marquis Who's Who

Contemporary Black Biography: Profiles from the International Black Community (Green Library Information Center DT18.C66; available online as part of Biography Resource Center) This series provides informative biographical profiles of the important and influential persons of African heritage who form the international black community; men and women who have changed today's world and are shaping tomorrow's.

Dictionary of American Negro Biography (Green Library Information Center E185.96. L6) provides articles on more than 7000 significant African Americans spanning three centuries (until 1970).

Dictionary of Literary Biography (Green Library Information Center PS129 .D52) has several volumes that focus on black writers working in different genres and eras (see volumes 33, 38, 41, 50, 51, 76). Also see volume 8 of the Dictionary of Literary Biography Documentary Series (PS129 .D4 1982 vol. 8).

Distinguished African American Scientists of the 20th century (Green Library Information Center Q141 .D535 1996) This volume contains 100 articles about different scientists, ranging from George Washington Carver to Mae Jemison, practicing research in different fields (mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, geology, engineering, and anthropology).

Freedom's Lawmakers: a Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction (Green Library Information Center E185.96 F64 1996) The first comprehensive list and presentation of biographical information about black officials during Reconstruction.

Notable Black American Women (Green Library Information Center, HASRC, & Stacks E185.96 .N68 1992; available online as part of Biography Resource Center) contains 500 biographies of African American women, ranging from colonial times (1700's) to the present (early 1990's).

On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier: Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Green Library Information Center U52.05 1995) Contains numerous biographical entries, some detailed, some sketchy, on the Black Soldiers who fought for the 9 and 10th cavalries.

Who's Who Among African Americans (Green Library Information Center - Ready Reference; older volumes in Green Library Stacks) contains entries on over 17,000 living professionals.

Statistical Information

Black Americans: A Statistical Sourcebook (Green Library Information Center Statistics Shelf E185.5 B512) provides an extensive collection of tables which display information on a wide variety of topics: population, education, health, crime, government, employment, and income are some of them.

The Black Population in the United States These tables present data on the demographic, social, and economic characteristics of the Black population in the United States from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Topics covered include geographic distribution, marital status, educational attainment, family and household type, labor force status, occupational distribution, earnings, family income, and poverty status. Also also look at the Census's Facts on the Black/African American Population.

Statistical Abstract of the United States (Green Library Information Center Statistics Shelf HA202 .A483) provides a wealth of statistical information from a variety of government and non-governmental sources.

Statistical Record of Black America (Stacks E185.86 .S74) tables and figures from both public and private sources.

We the People: An Atlas of America's Ethnic Diversity (Green Library Information Center E184 .A1 A479 1988 f) surveys people from Africa as well as the Caribbean. Excellent demographic maps.

Other Libraries and Resources on Campus

Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project

Other Internet Resources

ShinJoung Yeo, Coordinator for Reference Services
Cecil H. Green Library, Stanford University Libraries

This page was orginally created by Rose Adams and maintained by Kathy Kerns

Last modified: September 17, 2008

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