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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Afro American Studies

A general guide to library research in Afro American Studies.

Library Guide for Afro Am 365 - Composition: Style and Organization

Good library research makes you a better writer.


Why journals?

Academic journals are great for browsing and keeping up to date.They give you an idea of what scholars in African American Studies are writing about today (and in the past if you go to the back issues).
They also give you an idea of how scholars in African American Studies write.

The following are some top scholarly, academic journals for Afro American Studies.

African American Review  PS173.N4N36 and online

Black Collegian  LC2781.B45 and online

Black Issues in Higher Education  LC2781.B455 and online

The Black Scholar E185.5.B5 and Microfilm A 831 and online

Callaloo PS173.N4C3 and online

Challenge - A Journal of Research on African American Men online only

Contributions in Black Studies HT1581.A2 C6 and online through ScholarWorks

The Journal of African American History E185.J86 and online

Journal of Black Studies E185.5.J8 and online

Journal of Blacks in Higher Education LC2781.J68 and online

The Review of Black Political Economy E185.5.R45 and online

Souls: a Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society E185.5.S68 and online

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.


Why databases?

Databases help you efficiently find good scholarly journal articles on your chosen topic.


Tips for Databases

  1. At a minimum, search Black Studies Center, Academic Search Premier, America: History and Life, and Web of Science.
  2. From off-campus locations, an OIT Computer Account is required to access licensed databases.
  3. Use a citation manager like Zotero or RefWorks to organize your references and create your bibliography.
  4. After you've run a search, use the button (if the database has it) to retrieve articles.

The following databases, are recommended for Afro Am topics:


Academic Search Premier - (includes full-text journal articles) Good for scholarly journal articles. Tip: For scholarly articles, limit the search to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals in the front search screen

African American Biographical Database - A source for information on 19th and early 20th century African American lives and culture, from a digitized collection of books published 1790-1950.

African American Newspapers - Seven nineteenth-century African American newspapers in full text, including advertising, 1827-1902.

African American Song - 16,000 tracks of historical recordings of jazz, blues, gospel and other genres, 1890's-1970's.

America: History and Life - Scholarly article citations in American history with some full text links.

Biography in Context - Biographies of thousands of important people.

Black Studies Center combines several resources for research in Black Studies: Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, International Index to Black Periodicals (IIBP), The Chicago Defender, and the Black Literature Index. IIBP provided indexing and abstracting of 150 African, American and Caribbean periodicals, with full text of forty core journals. The Chicago Defender was at one point the most widely-read black newspaper in the country, with more than two thirds of its readership based outside Chicago.

Black Thought and Culture - Collection of books and other monographs, essays, articles, speeches, and interviews written by leaders and writers within the African American community from 1700s to 1975.

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

Book Review Digest - Great for book reviews.

ERIC - Articles and reports dealing with issues in education.

Ethnic Newswatch - Full-text articles from the newspapers, magazines and some scholarly journals of ethnic communities in the United States.

Google Scholar - Use this version of Google Scholar within UMass IP range to access many UMass online journal subscriptions.

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

JSTOR - Full text scholarly articles in many fields.

MEF Films Online - Educational films on current issues, by the Media Education Foundation. 

New Grove Music - Definitive encyclopedia for anything pertaining to music, instruments, composers, and musicians.

Sociological Abstracts - Scholarly article citations in sociology with some full text links.

Web of Science - Covers almost all English-language scholarly journals. Provides a means of tracing where an article is cited, as well as topic and author searching. Social sciences journals are covered since 1956.

Finding Books — in Paper Format

person with open bookTIP: 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.

If it's not at UMass, we'll get it 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.


Spotlight on: W.E.B. Du Bois Papers

W.E.B. Du Bois Papers

Search and view correspondence, writings, and photographs in the W. E. B. Du Bois Papers online.

And/ or visit the Special Collections and University Archives department of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, located on the 25th floor. 

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., during the academic year, except major holidays.

During semester breaks, on certain holidays, and in the summer, Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m


W.E.B. Du Bois Center

Located on the 22nd floor of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, the W. E. B. Du Bois Center was established in 2009 to engage the nation and the world in discussion and scholarship about the global issues involving race, labor and social justice.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Organize your research

Use a citation manager, such as Zotero to keep track of your research.

Put all your references in one place, create quick and easy bibliographies, build your knowledgebase for the rest of your career. For help, check out the online guides and webinars or Ask a Librarian. 

Some tips on using Chicago notation style with Zotero

Senior Honors Theses

Senior Honors theses  are available in Special Collections and Archives, 25th floor. Arranged by year, by department or alphabetically by name. These cannot be checked out, but they are great for browsing and seeing how other students have written successful theses.