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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Afro American Studies

A general guide to library research in Afro American Studies.


This research guide was prepared for Afro American Studies 692U:
Dynamics of Race and the Law 

Fall 2016 , Professor Toussant Losier
Library guide created by Isabel Espinal, Librarian for Afro American Studies

Secondary Sources

Academic Search Premier A multidisciplinary database with many literature, linguistics and anthropology journals.

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. 

Arts and Humanities Citation Index In ISI Web of Science, an index to scholarly journals which can be searched by topic, author, source, address or by cited reference. Good resource for academic book reviews.

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), 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.

Book Review Digest Citations, abstracts and excerpts of reviews of books, as published in periodicals.

Book Review Digest Retrospective Citations, abstracts and excerpts of reviews of English-language books, as published in periodicals, 1905-1982

Dissertations and Theses Citations and abstracts of doctoral and some maters theses, mostly completed in colleges and universities of the United States and Canada. Full text access to UMass dissertations.

ERIC  Articles and reports dealing with issues in education.

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. 
Web of Science Allows multidisciplinary searches combining arts, humanities, social science and science. Good for seeing who cited whom. Good for academic book reviews. 

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

Tips for Databases

  1. From off-campus locations, an IT Computer Account is required to access licensed databases.
  2. Use RefWorks to manage your citations and create your bibliography.
  3. After you've run a search, use the button (if the database has it) to retrieve articles or to be taken directly to Interlibrary Loan, so you can order the article if UMass does not have it.



Papers of the NAACP Part 8: Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System, 1910-1955

Generally Microfilm number 8445 at UMass. Usually kept in storage. Use the Microforms Retrieval Request Form to request individual reels. Use the guides to the papers to determine which reels you want to request. There should be 17 reels in Series A and 32 in Series B. 

Guides to the papers:

Papers of the NAACP. Part 8, Discrimination in the criminal justice system, 1910-1955: a guide to the microfilm edition / guide compiled by Stuart Stern.
UM Microforms Guides / E185.5 .N27226

Online scanned versions of the guides:

How to cite Microfilm?

Librarian Steve Henry writes: "There are two basic steps to citing microfilm: 1. Cite your primary source 2. Add information about the microfilm"

Not all styles ask for info on microfilm. See examples at Yale writing guide for MLA, APA, and Chicago styles of citing microforms

Databases for More Primary Sources

Primary Sources

African American Newspapers: The 19th Century - Starting with the Freedom’s Journal in 1827 and continuing in chronological order with the monthly addition of new text, this database plans to ultimately contain the complete text of the major African American newspapers published in the United States during the 19th century. Currently contains the following newspapers: Freedom's Journal, The Coloured American, The North Star, The National Era, Provincial Freeman, Frederick Douglass Paper, and The Christian Recorder.

ArchiveGrid - This beta system connects you with primary source material held in archives, special collections, and manuscript collections around the world. You will find historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. ArchiveGrid also helps researchers contact archives to request information, arrange a visit, and order copies.

Black Abolitionist Papers Papers and articles of 300 US and European anti-slavery activists of color, 1830-1865.

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

Digital Schomburg and New York Public Library Online Archive Collections

Ethnic NewsWatch Full-text articles from the newspapers, magazines and journals of ethnic communities in the United States, 1965-present.

HATHI Trust Digital Library A gigantic collection of books and periodicals digitized by Google, Internet Archive, and member libraries. The entire corpus is searchable within the HathiTrust catalog, although only out-of-copyright books are available to read. Generally, this is books published before 1923 or by the government. UMass Amherst users can create accounts, assemble their own sets of texts for analysis, and  print and download.

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.

Reader's Guide Retrospective Citations to articles in 600 popular U.S. magazines. Time Period Covered: 1890-1982.
Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000 Primary and secondary sources on women's involvement in historical events. Includes books, pamphlets, papers, and articles.

Women Writers Project Literary works by women writers, 1600-1800.

Citation Management

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

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


If you need more help or info on RefWorks, check out the online guides and webinars or Ask a Librarian.

If you're looking for another citation management option to RefWorks, try Zotero.

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)


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