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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Afro American Studies

A general guide to library research in Afro American Studies.

Library Guide to Afro Am 691C:
Historiographical Methods in Afro-American Studies

This research guide was prepared for Afro American Studies 691C: Historiographical Methods in Afro-American Studies.
Fall 2006, 2008 & 2016, Professor John Bracey. Fall 2010 & 2012, Professor Ernest Allen, Fall 2020 Professor Anne Kerth
Library guide created by Isabel Espinal, Librarian for Afro American Studies

Citation Management

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

Primary Sources

Open Access African American Newspapers

Other African American Open Access Primary Sources

ProQuest Historical African American Newspapers

Mostly 20th Century

Nineteenth Century African American Periodicals

Other African American Primary Sources UMass Databases

Other Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

More Databases



The Boston Public Library (BPL) and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) offer all Massachusetts residents remote access to proprietary databases. This includes historical newspapers, government information, and geneaology sources.

Connect to databases for Massachusetts residents at​.

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Local history

Don't forget about local History collections at public libraries. Many public library local history collections are not digitized, but the effort is growing.

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

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.

Some primary sources

Mary Church Terrell, "What Role Is the Educated Negro Woman to Play in the Uplifting of Her Race?" in Twentieth Century Negro Literature, Or a Cyclopedia of Thought on the Vital Topics Relating to the American Negro, ed. and arranged by D. W. Culp (Naperville, Ill.: J. L. Nichols, 1902), pp. 172-77.

From the database:

The Colored American/Weekly Advocate

On January 7, 1837 Phillip A. Bell began to publish a weekly newspaper called Weekly Advocate. From the beginning, one of the major goals of this newspaper was to educate its subscribers, and much information appeared in a list format including: principal railroads, lengths of rivers, heights of principal mountains, principal colleges in the United States and the principal features of various countries of the nations of the earth.

On March 4, 1837, issue number 9 of the newspaper was published under the new name of The Colored American, with Samuel E. Cornish as editor. The new motto was “RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTETH A NATION,” and the paper was “…designed to be the organ of Colored Americans—to be looked on as their own, and devoted to their interests—through which they can make known their views to the public—can communicate with each other and their friends, and their friends with them; and to maintain their well-known sentiments on the subjects of Abolition and Colonization, viz.—emancipation without expatriation—the extirpation of prejudice—the enactment of equal laws, and a full and free investiture of their rights as men and citizens…

From the database:


Black Abolitionist papers, 1830-1865 UM/Microform Storage 10429, 17 reels. For a guide to the papers see Ref E499.B625 1981. Also available online in database format.

The Claude A. Barnett Papers UM Microform Storage 6910. 91 reels. For index, see The Claude A. Barnett Papers : the Associated Negro Press, 1918-1967 edited by August Meier and Elliott Rudwick. UM/Ref. E185.5 .N272

Federal surveillance of Afro-Americans (1917-1925): the First World War, the Red scare, and the Garvey movement UM Microform Storage 669. 25 reels.

Microfilm edition of slavery and antislavery pamphlets from the libraries of Salmon P. Chase & John P. Hale UM Microform Storage 5460, 5 reels. Microfilm of pamphlet collection at Dartmouth College Library. For an index to the collection see Ref. Z 7164 S6H42

Papers of the NAACP UM/Microform Storage 7578. Numerous reels. For indexes, see
A Guide to papers of the NAACP, part I, 1909-1950 : meetings of the Board of Directors, records of annual conferences, major speeches, and special reports UM/Ref. E185.5 .N272
A guide to Papers of the NAACP : Part 2, 1919-1939 : personal correspondence of selected NAACP officials UM/Ref. E185.5 .N2722
Papers of the NAACP, part 3 : the campaign for educational equality; Legal Department and Central Office records, 1913-1950 / guide compiled by Martin Schipper UM/Ref. E185.5 .N27221 Ser.A-D
...and other indexes in the Reference collection
W.E.B. Du Bois Papers UM/Microfilm 4877. 89 reels. For index, see the book The Papers of W.E.B. Du Bois, 1803 (1877-1963) 1979: a Guide by Robert W. McDonnell UM Microforms Guides E185.5 .M3

For your convenience, we recommend that you request microforms through the Electronic Request Form before coming to the microforms area to do your work. When filling out the electronic form please list a specific call number along with a specific reel number, if applicable.

Reference Sources

Most of these are located on the Main floor of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library.

  • Africana: the Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience Ref DT14 .A37435 2005
  • Black Women in America Ref. E185.86 .B542 2005
  • Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History: the Black Experience in the Americas online
  • Facts on File Encyclopedia of Black Women in America Ref E185.96 .F2 1997
  • Revealing Documents: a Guide to African American Manuscript Sources in the Schlesinger Library and the Radcliffe College Archives Z1361.N39 V66 1993 (21st floor)
  • Who's Who in African-American History Ref E185.96 .W46 1994

Librarian in New Africa House

One on one consultation 

I can meet you at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, at New African House, on Zoom or other online venues. To request an appointment or get any other help, please use this form or send me an email.

Office hours in New Africa House Fall 2023 and Spring 2024:
3-4:30 pm
Room 325


Door of New Africa House some years ago, painted in red, black and green

(Door of New Africa House some years ago)