February is African American History Month!

February 8th, 2010 by Sarah Laleman Ward

There are so many incredible resources out there on African American History that I am not even going to attempt to sum them all up here. What I will do, however, is tell you a bit about two databases we subscribe to here at Hunter College that provide excellent coverage of the topic, and to which you have access as a Hunter College student, faculty or staff member. Remember, if you are not on campus, you will be asked to log in with your Hunter email address and password.

First up, we have African American Experience. Like all the rest of our databases, it can be found in the alphabetical databases list on our home page. African American Experience is:

a full-text digital resource exploring the history and culture of African Americans, as well as the greater Black Diaspora. Its two primary goals: to provide rock-solid information from authorities in the field, and to allow African Americans to speak for themselves through a wealth of primary sources.

You will find all sorts of engaging historical information on the African American experience in this database, including: photographs, maps, audio clips, primary sources (meaning things like slave narratives and first-hand accounts of events), multimedia resources, and links to websites that have been vetted by a team of scholars and librarians of color.

This resource also includes subject research guides on some popular topics  in African American history, such as the Harlem Renaissance, Barack Obama, and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, among others.

Because I am a lover of visual resources, here are a couple of cool photos I found in this database:

The Nicholas Brothers and Dorothy Dandridge tap dance to “Chattanooga Choo Choo” in the 1941 film Sun Valley Serenade. 20th Century-Fox/Photofest.

Wedding of W.E.B. Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois, February 27, 1951. Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

So take a look at the African American Experience database and see what you can find. There are many treasures there just waiting to be discovered!

Next up is Black Thought and Culture, which can also be located in the list of databases, this time under the letter B. Black Thought and Culture:

contains 1,297 sources with 1,098 authors, covering the non-fiction published works of leading African Americans. Black Thought and Culture provides approximately 100,000 pages of monographs, essays, articles, speeches, and interviews written by leaders within the black community from the earliest times to the present. The collection is intended for research in black studies, political science, American history, music, literature, and art.

So this database is slightly different in scope from the previous one I wrote about. There are some fascinating documents available in Black Thought and Culture, such as letters from Jackie Robinson to President Kennedy,  President Eisenhower, and President Johnson. Below is an excerpt from a letter from Robinson to John F. Kennedy dated February 9, 1961:

I thank you for what you have done so far, but it is not how much has been done but how much more there is to do. I would like to be patient Mr. President, but patience has caused us years in our struggle for human dignity. I will continue to hope and pray for your aggressive leadership but will not refuse to criticise if the feeling persist that Civil Rights is not on the agenda for months to come.

And here is Jackie Robinson’s signature:

I could spend hours digging around these two databases alone. There’s so much to learn and discover.

Additionally, below are a few free web resources that have great visual material (photographs, etc.) related to African American History.

The official African American History Month website from the U.S. government: http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/

Which includes a slide show of images: http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/photos.html

Another slide show from The Root, on 50 years in Black History: http://www.theroot.com/multimedia/50-years-black-history

Two sites from the Library of Congress:
The African American Mosaic: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african/afam001.html
African American Odyssey: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/aohome.html

And one from PBS on Africans in America: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/

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Posted in Library Collections, Library Resources, Reference, Research

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