Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Black life: databases and digital collections
19th Century U.S. Newspapers (Gale Cengage)
Includes the North Star, Frederick Douglass's paper, and the Liberator (William Lloyd Garrison's paper)
Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century
Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Organizational Records and Personal Papers, Part 1. The Organizational Records and Personal Papers bring a new perspective to the Black Freedom Struggle via the records of major civil rights organizations and personal papers of leaders and observers of the 20th century Black freedom struggle. The three major civil rights organizations are the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. Papers of civil rights leaders included in this module are those of the civil rights and labor leader A. Philip Randolph; the long-time civil rights activist and organizer of the March on Washington, Bayard Rustin, and the papers of the pioneering educator Mary McLeod Bethune.
Chiefly 20th and 21st century ethnic press, including newspapers, magazines, and some academic titles.
Historical Black Newspapers (ProQuest)
Voices of the black community chiefly in the post-Civil War and early 20th century.
HistoryMakers Digital Archive (Proquest)
These video oral history interviews highlight the accomplishments of individual African Americans and African-American-led groups and movements. A resource for students and scholars exploring African American history and culture.
Slavery and African-American Primary Sources
>> Also check our Africana Studies guide, created by Christine Oka.
African American Odyssey - the Civil Rights Movement
The exhibition African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship,showcases the incomparable African American collections of the Library of Congress. With over 240 books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings, this is the largest Black history exhibit ever held at the Library.
Anti-Slavery Collections at the Boston Public Library
Rich primary source materials available in the Copley Square main branch of BPL.
Autobiography: Slave Narratives, Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature
Get an overview of the North American slave narrative, with recommendations for further reading.
Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed
Website provides an online reference guide of African American and Global African history, full-text primary documents and major speeches of black activists and leaders.
Born in Slavery:Slave Narratives (Federal Writers Project/Library of Congress)
Over 2,000 slave narratives from the Federal Writers' Project (1936 -1938), at the Library of Congress. Includes significant supporting material about the origins, significance, and limitations of the collection, and about using it in teaching.
An effort to develop a digital library whose primary focus is people—individuals who were enslaved, owned slaves, or participated in slave trading, bringing together archival resources from all over the world using linked open data. (University of Michigan and others)
Frederick Douglass Papers (Library of Congress)
Original documents by and about the great abolitionist, journalist, and memoirist.
North American Slave Narratives
The full text of known slave narratives published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English prior to 1920. Available for reading or to download for text mining and similar analysis projects.
Samuel J. May Antislavery Papers (Cornell)
Original papers by abolitionist and reformer who came from Boston and worked with the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery society.
Slave Voyages (Emory University)
Great for visual displays (maps, timelines and data) of the transatlantic slave trade.
Northeastern Archives and Special Collections
African American Archives and Special Collections at NU
The NU Archives are a resource for the records of individuals and organizations connected to Greater Boston's African American communities. Some materials are online, others can be consulted in person in Snell Library. Most collections are open to the public.
What are primary sources?
Primary sources are first-hand sources created at the time of a particular event or period.
Finding archives with sources on your topic:
Primary sources can be found online, reproduced in printed books, or in their original form in archival collections. To find out which American archives have manuscripts and records on your topic, search ArchiveGrid. See our ArchiveGrid tutorial.
The 1619 Project
1619 Project (New York Times)
Marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves in North America, the New York Times initiated a series of historical, analytical, and interpretive content examining the legacy of slavery. Published August 2019.