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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Afro American Studies

A general guide to library research in Afro American Studies.

Learn about journals and journal artices!

What's a peer-reviewed journal?
Many of our journals are peer-reviewed. If you don't know what that means or why it matters, watch this video.

Use RefWorks

Use RefWorks to keep track of your research. 

Put all your references in RefWorks, create quick and easy bibliographies, build your knowledgebase.


1. Set up your account by clicking on the RefWorks link on the library homepage. From the RefWorks info page, choose "RefWorks Login & New Account Set up." From the login page, choosse "New to RefWorks? - Sign up for an Individual Account." Note: You get to choose your own username and password - make them easy to remember!

2. Get your book citations into RefWorks

Book citations from UMAWorldCat (a huge combined catalog that includes UMass books)

  1. Go to
  2. Conduct a search.
  3. Click “Cite/Export” on the page for an individual book title.
  4. Choose "Export to Refworks."
  5. Log into RefWorks.

Another way:

  1. Within RefWorks, go to the search menu on the left side top and choose "Online Catalog or database"
  2. In the next screen, under "Online Catalog or Database to Search" choose "University of Massachusetts Amherst." If you have a specific title or author, go to the advanced search at the bottom and run your search.
  3. Your results will appear in a separate window or tab. choose the title(s) you want to import to your RefWorks account and click on "Import."

3. Get your journal article citations into RefWorks
Most databases have a way to export citations into RefWorks directly.

4. Write your annotation and enter it into RefWorks
You can write and save your annotations in RefWorks using these instructions.

4. Print out your bibliography

1.     Click on Bibliography from the menu toolbar.
2.     Select Output Style (APA, MLA, etc.) .
3.     Select Format a Bibliography from a List of References
4.     Select File type to Create (HTML, Word, or text file)
5.     Select the Folder from which the citations are to be taken.
6.     Click Create Bibliography.
7.     Follow the instructions for viewing the file. Remember to save the document before closing. 
Be sure to check the list for accuracy!


If you need more help or info on RefWorks, check out the FAQs.


Audio Recording in the lab


DML Logo

The Digital Media Lab is on the 3rd Floor of Du Bois Library. It is a multimedia production space designed to support students working on course-related multimedia presentations, projects and portfolios.

The Digital Media Lab has specialized production areas including a green screen room for doing chroma-key videos, two sound booths for recording audio, a media viewing room for collaborations and presentation practice, and a flexible workspace with rolling desks and chairs to accommodate individual and group work. The lab has 27” iMac workstations and dual monitor PCs with the full range of multimedia software needed to produce video, interactive presentations, 3-D animation, and music composition.

During staffed hours, students can receive individual instruction, sign up for workshops, and check out audio and video equipment. Note: Equipment check-outs and returns can also be made at the Circulation Desk on the lower level of the library.

For more information or to arrange a tour, contact:
Jeanne Antill 413-545-6959
Dennis Spencer 413-545-8675

Writing & Research

Library Guide by Isabel Espinal for

AfroAm 118: 

Survey of African American Literature II

Professor Britt Rusert



Your library research learning goals:

  • learn about the resources available at the library that will help in your research projects, specifically the project for this class
  • start learning how to identify and use databases efficiently for specific projects
  • learn how to sign up for RefWorks & about the importance of citation management
  • begin searching for information for the presentation you will make to the class


Finding Books

people browsing book shelvesTIP: When you look for a particular book on the shelf, make sure to browse the shelf and nearby shelves for related books. Take your time! Open the books!  



To find books at UMass, you have two options.

  1. Start with the general search box on the library home page,  
    • This catalog gives you access to libraries and collections throughout North America and beyond! It starts with UMass but does not limit you to our catalog.

  2. Or, use the Five Colleges Library Catalog.
    • This catalog lets you search in some very specifc ways, for example, by Library of Congress Subject Heading. Be as specific as possible in your searching. Start with a subject search (use keyword if subject yields no results). Search by author, title, subject, keyword, call number, journal title, etc. For materials on a specific subject, enter your term(s) into the Subject or Keyword search boxes.

Tips for Databases

  1. From off-campus, an OIT Computer Account is required to access licensed databases.
  2. Use the Database Searching Log to keep track of your searches and search strategies.
  3. Use RefWorks to manage your citations and create your bibliography.
  4. After you've run a search, use the button to retrieve articles or to be taken directly to Interlibrary Loan, so you can order the article if UMass does not have it.


Primary Sources

African American Poetry The early history of African American poetry, from the first recorded poem by an African American (Lucy Terry Prince's 'Bars Fight', c.1746) to the major poets of the nineteenth century, including Paul Laurence Dunbar and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.

African American Song Audio database which documents African American music, including jazz, blues, gospel, ragtime, folk songs, and narratives, from the Document Records label. Browse by category of music, region, genre, instrument, artist, ensemble, and time period. A playlist option is available.

Black Thought and Culture Contains 619 sources with 246 authors which includes the nonfiction published works of leading African Americans.

Black Women Writers A growing collection of literary works by about 77 African, African American, and Afro-Caribbean women.

Historical Baltimore Afro-American - Influential black newspaper, searchable, in image files, in full text. First-hand accounts and coverage of the politics, society and events of the time, covering 1893-1988.

Historical Boston Globe The entire Boston Globe, searchable, in image files, 1872-1924.

Historical Chicago Defender Influential black weekly newspaper, searchable, in image files, 1905-1975. 

Historical New York Amsterdam News Full text of the paper of record of the New York's African American community, 1922-1993.

Historical NY Times The entire New York Times, searchable, in image files. Time Period Covered: 1851-1999. 

Historical Pittsburgh Courier The leading newspaper of the African American community in twentieth-century U.S. Covers 1911-2002.

Historical Statistics of the United States Statistics gathered by the Census Bureau, with scholarly editing and essays, from colonial times to near present.

North American Women's Letters and Diaries Primary source material for life as it was lived by 1,000 women in North America, 1675-1950.


Secondary Sources

African American Biographical Database Full-text books on African American lives and culture.

America: History and Life Citations and abstracts for journal articles, dissertations, and book reviews relating to United States and Canadian history. 

Art Abstracts An index to articles and reproductions of works of art in art-related magazines, journals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins.

Biography Resource Center Brief biographies from a variety of reference sources.

Black Studies Center combines several resources for research and teaching in Black Studies: Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, International Index to Black Periodicals (IIBP), and the Black Literature Index. IIBP provided indexing and abstracting of 150 African, American and Caribbean periodicals, with full text of forty core journals. 

International Index to Music Periodicals  Citations and abstracts from scholarly and popular music periodicals. 

JSTOR Full-text articles from scholarly journals from many disciplines. From the earliest issue of each journal to between two and five years prior to the present. Therefore, does NOT contain very recent scholarship. 

***MLA International Bibliography Considered THE PREMIER database for journal articles and other scholarly literature on literature, literary theory and criticism, linguistics, folklore, and film.

WorldCat The combined catalogs of most U.S. libraries. Material not owned by UMass Amherst can usually be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan. 

Quick Search: UMA WorldCat

Introducing UMA WorldCat - a new discovery tool that helps you find a wide range of materials using a single search. Books, journals, articles, videos and more can be located using UMA WorldCat.

Spotlight on Historical Pittsburgh Courier

Video about use of Historical Pittsburgh Courier:

Featured books

We order for you - for free!

Use your Interlibrary Loan account to:

  • Borrow books, videos, and other materials not available in the Five College system.
  • Request electronic copies of articles and book chapters not available at UMass.
  • In databases, and in your Refworks account, use the button to  taken directly to Interlibrary Loan, so you can request articles if UMass does not have them.

Give feedback on library instruction

Fill out this anonymous evaluation form and give us feedback on the library instruction by librarian Isabel Espinal.

Subject Guide

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Isabel Espinal
W.E.B. Du Bois Library
University of Massachusetts

Office hours Wednesdays 3-4:30, room 325, New Africa house. Also available by appointment. I can meet via phone, Zoom, or other online venue. To request an online appointment or get any other help, please email or call:
Website Skype Contact: isabel.espinal2010