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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Afro American Studies

A general guide to library research in Afro American Studies.

Featured Books


TIP: 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!

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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.

More Databases

For even more historical databases, get a free eCard from the Boston Public Library.

The Boston Public Library (BPL) and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners offer all Massachusetts residents remote access to proprietary databases. Includes:


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Writing & Research

Library Guide by Isabel Espinal for

History 594Z: Black Women’s Political Activism,
Professor Barbara Krauthamer

Junior Year Writing
Good library research makes you a better writer.

Introducing HATHI Trust Digital Library

HATHI Trust is 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.

Quick Search: UMA WorldCat

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

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, such as Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.

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.

African American Song (part of Music Online: 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 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.

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

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

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. 

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), and the Black Literature Index. IIBP provided indexing and abstracting of 150 African, American and Caribbean periodicals, with full text of forty core journals. 

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. 

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.

Book citations from the 5 College Catalog

  1. Conduct a Search.
  2. Select the items you want to save by clicking the box.
  3. Click "View Marked" link near the top of the screen.
  4. Click "E-Mail/Save" link near the top of the screen.
  5. Under Choose predefined format, select RefWorks Format.
  6. Click "Go."
  7. Click "RefWorks."
  8. Log into RefWorks.

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.

5. 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.

Featured Journals

Why journals?

Academic journals are great for browsing, keeping up to date with research trends, and getting ideas.

They show what scholars in History and African American and Women's 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 History and African American and Women's Studies write.



Journal of Women's History


Journal of Negro History


Journal of African American History


Journal of American History

Learn about journals and journal artices!

What articles are prominent in my field?
2-minute video on using "Web of Science" to find highly-cited articles.

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.


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

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

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.

Writing Tools

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