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African American Studies Research Guide: Microfilm

Microfilm

Before the Internet and digitization projects, the only way for some libraries to acquire original primary sources was to buy microfilm collections.  A few of those collections are listed to the right.

FBI Records Are Also Available Over the Internet

Here are some examples of FBI records pertaining to African Americans or related topics that have been digitized and made available over the Internet:

To find electronic FBI records, do a subject search in the MSU Library online catalog using the subject United States Federal Bureau Of Investigation Archives

Atlanta child murders

Billie Holiday

Black Panther Party

Charles "Sonny" Liston

Elijah Muhammad 

Gangster Disciples

Malcolm X

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Medgar Evers

MIBURN (Mississippi Burning)

Nation of Islam

Paul and Eslanda Robeson

Papers of the NAACP

Founded Feb. 12. 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, campaigning for equal opportunity and conducting voter mobilization. (from http://www.naacp.org/ )

Papers of the NAACP: Personal Correspondence of Selected NAACP Officials. Microfilm records of the NAACP, 1919-1939. 17015a Microfilm The complete list of papers available can be found by searching the library catalog by title for "Papers of the NAACP". Use the reel guides to determine which reels are of most use: E185.5.N276 L473 Pt.2, (2 West, Microform Guides).

Sample Microfilm Resources Ready to Use

The MSU Libraries owns hundreds of microfilm reels of information on the African American experience. This section provides some tips on how to locate them, plus a sampler of some of our holdings. 

Microfilm collections can be found by searching the MSU Libraries online catalog, MelCat (a network of participating Michigan libraries), or or WorldCat (searches thousands of libraries).  For example try a title or keyword search with phrases such as "Black studies research sources" and browse through the results.

Or you may want to try a subject search with one of the following subjects and look for microfilm collections (unless you want to explore the other print and electronic resources as well)

  • African American press -- Archives -- Indexes. 
  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century -- Sources. 
  • African Americans -- Employment -- Sources.
  • African Americans -- History -- Sources.
  • Associated Negro Press -- Archives -- Indexes.
  • Black Muslims -- History -- Sources.
  • Black nationalism -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
  • Black power -- United States -- History -- Sources.  
  • Blacks -- History -- Sources.
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People -- History -- Sources.
  • National Association of Colored Women's Clubs (U.S.) -- History -- Sources.
  • National Council of Negro Women -- History -- Sources.
  • National Negro Congress (U.S.) -- History -- Sources. 
  • Organization of Afro-American Unity -- History -- Sources.
  • Slavery -- Southern States -- History -- Sources.
  • Slave trade -- United States -- History -- Sources.     
  • United States -- Race relations -- History -- Sources.
  • United States. Army Air Forces -- African American troops -- History -- Sources.
  • United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation -- Archives.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Aerial operations, American -- Sources.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Participation, African American -- Sources.   

If the records indicate microfilm, then we have the contents. Always check to see if there is a finding guide to make searching through the microfilm easier.  If the record only indicates a guide, we may not have the corresponding microfilm.  However microfilm may be available from the Center for Research Libraaries or through interlibrary loan. Stop by the reference desk or contact the Ethnic Studies Bibliographer to determine availability.


All of the following microfilm are located in the Microfilm Collection next to the Photocopy Center on 2 West of the Main Library.  The corresponding finding guides are shelved in the Microform Guides Collection.

The Arthur A. Schomburg papers. Itemizes manuscript collections available at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture29008 Microfilm  | E184.6 .S35 1991 Guide

Bayard Rustin papersReproduces the papers of Bayard Rustin made from the originals in the A. Philip Randolph Institute, New York N.Y., which were later transferred by the Institute to the Library of Congress29006 Microfilm  | E185.97 .R87 1988 Guide

Black Abolitionist Papers, 1830-1865.  17 microfilm reels.  Available in Photocopy Center (2 West) 21950 Microfilm : For microfilm print guide, see "Black abolitionist papers, 1830-1865, a guide to the microfilm" / editor George E. Carter, editor C. Peter Ripley, Microfilm Guide Collection E449.B625 1981.

The black code of Georgia, U.S.A.   28972 Microfilm Compiled and prepared by W.E.B. Du Bois for the Negro Exhibit of the American Section of the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900. Contains laws from 1732-1899

The Black power movement. Part 1, Amiri Baraka from Black arts to Black radicalism [microform29002 Microfilm  |   E185.615 .B533 2001 pt. 1 Guide

Black workers in the era of the great migration, 1916-1925.19524 Microfilm  25 reels. |   E185.8 .S35 1985 Index

The Claude A. Barnett Papers. Part one : Associated Negro Press Organizational files, 1828-1964 [microform].  Microfilmed from the holdings of the Chicago Historical Society19175 Microfilm r.1-4  |  PN4882.5 .S35 1986 Guide

The Claude A. Barnett Papers. Part two : Associated Negro Press Organizational files, 1920-1966 [microform]. Microfilmed from the holdings of the Chicago Historical Society19175a Microfilm r.1-4 |  PN4882.5 .S36 1985 Guide

COINTELPRO : Black Nationalist Hate Groups. 14914 Microfilm reels 5-8  - The FBI Counterintelligence Program file contains details of the bureau’s attempts to "expose, disrupt, and neutralize" groups that J. Edgar Hoover perceived as threatening to national security. The material in this file, spanning COINTELPRO’s existence from 1956 to 1971, is especially valuable for the view it offers of the U.S. political climate in the 1960s. The file is organized in sections that reflect the bureau’s interests, among them the Communist Party of the USA, Black nationalist "hate" groups, White "hate" groups, the Socialist Workers Party, and Cuban groups supporting Fidel Castro.  Note: Not sure whether these reels actually cover the black nationalist hate group section, but the entire collection is also available online as part of Federal Response to Radicalism in the 1960s

Documents relating to the military and naval service of blacks awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor from the Civil War to the Spanish-American War.  29042 Microfilm  Roll 1. Civil War - U.S. Colred troops.--Roll 2. Indian Campaigns - U.S.--Roll 3. Spanish-American War - U.S. Regular Army.--Roll 4. Civil War, Interim Period (1865-98), and Spanish-American War - U.S. Navy.

FBI file on A. Philip Randolph [microform] . 27550 Microfilm | Guide to the microform edition : E185.97 .R27 F2 1990 Guide -  Philip Randolph (1889-1979), an outspoken black labor leader, is perhaps best remembered as the organizer of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. He was elected a vice president of the AFL-CIO in 1955. This file includes memos and correspondence, most dating from the 1940s with some coverage into the early 1960s.

FBI file on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. [microform].  28039 Microfilm   |   Guide to the microfilm edition : E748.P86 F3 2000 Guide - Controversial politician and clergyman Adam Clayton Powell was active in many labor organizations and "militant" groups. He was elected to New York City council in 1941, and first elected to U.S. Congress in 1945. In 1967, Powell was excluded by the House of Representatives for alleged misuse of House funds, contempt of New York court orders concerning a libel judgment against him and conduct unbecoming a member.

FBI file on the Black Panther Party, North Carolina [microform]  27545 Microfilm |  Guide to the microfilm edition: E185.615.B562 1986 Guide  - Documents in this file, spanning the years from 1968 to 1976, are mainly surveillance reports and investigative and legal memoranda, but also include Black Panther Party publications, transcriptions of speeches by black militant spokespersons, digests of FBI phone intercepts at party headquarters and some of the party’s internal records and correspondence.  Also available online as part of Federal Response to Radicalism in the 1960s.

FBI file on the Committee for Public Justice [microform] 19512 Microfilm -  The Committee for Public Justice (CPJ), an affiliate of the ACLU, was formed in 1970 to voice concern over the "period of political repression" it perceived the nation to be entering. After the CPJ denounced the FBI, the bureau enlisted conservative media figures to help neutralize the impact of the committee's findings. This file continues after Hoover's death in 1972, including efforts by Directors L. Patrick Gray and Clarence M. Kelley.

FBI Investigation File on the Communist Infiltration of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference   [microform]  18766 Microfilm - This file documents the FBI’s investigation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which was organized in 1957 in Atlanta, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as president.  Also available online as part of Federal Response to Radicalism in the 1960s.  Microfilm edition also contains J. Edgar Hoover's official and confidential file on Martin Luther King, Jr., FBI investigation files

FBI file on Elijah Muhammad [microform]  27951 Microfilm | Guide to the microfilm edition : BP223.Z8 E454 1996 Guide - Born Elijah Poole in 1897, "the Messenger of Allah" assumed leadership of the movement later known as the Nation of Islam in 1934. The file contains material the FBI collected to show immoral, subversive, or criminal activity in order to discredit him as a leader of the Nation of Islam.

FBI file on the Highlander Folk School [microform] 27546 Microfilm | Guide to the microfilm edition : LC5301 M65 F3552 1990 Guide - The Highlander Folk School was established in Monteagle, Tennessee, in 1932 by Myles Horton, a native Tennessean who wanted to "provide an educational center in the South for the training of rural and industrial leaders." The school initially educated union workers and in the 1940s, began accepting African Americans into its program, and emphasis shifted toward aiding southern rural workers. This change raised suspicions among conservative groups, and eventually the school's charter was revoked because state law required private schools to be racially segregated. This FBI file, spanning 40 years, is rich in school-produced materials and local news clippings. It will interest labor historians, civil rights scholars and researchers investigating postwar anticommunism.

FBI file on the Ku Klux Klan Murder of Viola Liuzzo [microform] 27544 Microfilm | Guide to the microfilm edition : E185.98 .L541 A3 1990 Guide - Like the "Mississippi Burning" investigation, this was one of the first cases to test the new Civil Rights Act. The file on this important case contains FBI letters, memoranda, teletypes and more.

FBI file on Malcolm X [microform]. 10 reels.  10595 Microfilm |  Guide to the microfilm edition : E185.97 .L5 F23 1996 Guide  Malcolm X, one of the black militant movement’s most controversial figures, joined the Black Muslims while serving a prison sentence and, on his release in 1952, became a minister in Elijah Mohammed’s Nation of Islam. Later breaking with his group, he converted to orthodox Islam and founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity. The FBI opened a file on Malcolm X in 1953 and continued surveillance until his assassination in 1965. This file, encompassing 2,300 pages, gives insight into the various factions and leaders of the black militant movement during the 1950s and '60s, as well as details on the FBI's attempts to neutralize it.  Also available online as part of Federal Response to Radicalism in the 1960s

FBI Investigation File on Marcus Garvey [microform] 17853 Microfilm - The FBI investigation File on Marcus Garvey is an informative source on his role as a spokesman for black nationalism, on the American black community of the 1920s, and on the origins of the black social protest and separatist movements.

FBI file : MIBURN (Mississippi Burning) [microform] : the investigation of the murders of Michael Henry Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Earl Chaney, June 21, 1964.   27549 Microfilm | Guide to the microfilm edition :  E185.98.S351 F521 1990 Guide  In the summer of 1964, civil rights advocates Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Earl Chaney were working in rural Mississippi and were abducted and killed by local Ku Klux Klan members. Their murders were among the first to be tried under the new Civil Rights Act. This file includes bureau letters, memoranda and prosecuting reports on the case.  Also available online as part of Federal Response to Radicalism in the 1960s

FBI File on the Moorish Science Temple of America [microform] : 28967 Microfilm | Guide to the microfilm edition : BP62 .B56 G85 1998 Guide - The FBI investigated the Moorish Science Temple for its alleged hostility toward capitalism and its efforts to incite revolution. This collection is organized into geographic sections demarcating FBI headquarters and various field offices, including Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia. It is filed chronologically within the geographic sections. Materials contain correspondence, memos, reports, interviews and pamphlets.

FBI File on the Murder of Lemuel Penn [microform] 28988 Microfilm - This FBI file documents the investigation and trial of murdered African-American U.S. Army Reserve Officer Lemuel Penn. It contains a large number of newspaper clippings and numerous reports concerning Klan-related activities, including statements from eyewitnesses and photographs of areas where Klan meetings were held. It also includes correspondence with Lester Maddox, Thurgood Marshall and Lyndon Johnson. The FBI file on the murder of Lemuel Penn is an important resource for studying the civil rights movement, segregation and the Ku Klux Klan.

FBI File on Muslim Mosque, Inc. [microform]. 27590 Microfilm | Guide to the microfilm edition : BP187.65 .U62 M875 1996 Guide  : Founded by Malcolm X after his break with the Nation of Islam, Muslim Mosque, Inc. was a politically-oriented movement affiliated with the orthodox Islamic religion. The file contains memoranda by Special Agents in Charge and supporting documentation.  Also available online as part of Federal Response to Radicalism in the 1960s.

FBI file, N.A.A.C.P [microform].   : File covers dates 1941-1957.  27548 Microfilm |  Guide to the microfilm edition : E185.5.N276 G83 1990 Guide - These files on the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) cover the years 1923 to 1957, and reflect bureau investigations into the NAACP's supposed connections with the Communist party.

FBI file on the National Negro Congress [microform].     : Covers the dates 1936-1952.  27543 Microfilm |   Guide to the microfilm edition : E185.61.F35 1987 Guide - Among these files, materials are synopses of news reports regarding the National Negro Congress (NNC), announcements of its meetings, copies of its constitution and membership rosters and the bureau's investigative reports.

FBI file on the Organization of Afro-American Unity [microform].   27949 Microfilm  |  Guide to the microfilm edition : E185.5 .F352 1996 Guide : Organized by Malcolm X after his break with the Nation of Islam, the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) was under surveillance from its establishment until it dissolved in the 1960s. This file contains memoranda by FBI agents with supporting documentation.  Also available online as part of Federal Response to Radicalism in the 1960s.

FBI file on Paul Robeson [microform].  27798 Microfilm | Guide to the microfilm edition : E185.97.R65 F4 1987 Guide - The FBI's investigation of, and dissemination of information about, actor/singer Paul Robeson and his Communist party association contributed significantly to the ruin of his career. This file includes all the bureau reports on Robeson and his wife, news clippings and transcripts of his telephone conversations.

FBI file on the Reverend Jesse Jackson [microform].  22614 Microfilm |  Guide to the microfilm edition : E840.8.J35 G8 1988 Guide - The files of the FBI on Jesse Jackson span the years 1967 to 1984 and include the original investigative file on Jackson detailing his early career as head of "Operation Breadbasket" and PUSH (People United to Save Humanity); records of various threats made against him; documents from class-action suits in which he joined against the FBI, CIA and City of Chicago; and information regarding FBI and Secret Service protection of Jackson as a presidential candidate in 1984.

FBI file on Roy Wilkins [microform].  Covers the years 1958 to 1969.   27547 Microfilm   | Guide to the microfilm edition : E185.97.W69 F251 1990 Guide - Roy Wilkins, a prominent member of the NAACP, served as acting secretary and later as executive secretary. He was a key figure in the prevention of Communist infiltration of the NAACP. Provided is information on Wilkins's connections to such figures as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Paul Robeson. The file is also rich in Black Panther Party documents critical of Wilkins.

FBI File on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [microform] 27542 Microfilm | Guide to the microfilm edition : E185.61 .U465 1991 Guide: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was organized in 1960 to encourage voter registration for blacks in the Deep South. Under Stokely Carmichael, the group pushed for economic enfranchisement and advocated black supremacy. The FBI maintained a file on the SNCC because Communists were believed to be infiltrating its leadership. This file comprises reports from nineteen cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco. Each section is in chronological order, spanning 1964 to 1973. The file contains addresses, membership, and information on groups believed to associate with the SNCC.  Also available online as part of Federal Response to Radicalism in the 1960s.

FBI File on Thurgood Marshall [microform] 28984 Microfilm | Guide to the microfilm edition : KF8745 .M34 F35 2001 Guide - This lightly excised FBI file is of great value to those studying African-American history and the civil rights movement.

FBI file on W. E. B. Du Bois, 1942-1963 [microform].  27962 Microfilm   | Guide to the microfilm edition : E185.97.D73 F35 1996 Guide - NAACP founder W. E. B. Du Bois was investigated by the FBI for suspected Communist ties. In 1951, the Peace Information Center he was running was indicted as a suspected Communist "front" organization. The file contains coverage on this event and the last section consists of newspaper clippings about Du Bois.

Federal surveillance of Afro-Americans (1917-1925) [microform] : the First World War, the Red scare, and the Garvey movement.  25 reels.  19521 Microfilm | E185 .F33 1986, Index

More entries

Mary McLeod Bethune papers : the Bethune-Cookman College collection, 1922-1955   27552 Microfilm |  E185.97.B34 G85 1995 Guide

Mary McLeod Bethune paper : the Bethune Foundation collection19 reels. pt. 1. Writings, diaries, scrapbooks, biographical materials, and files on the National Youth Administration and women's organizations, 1918-1955 / editorial adviser, Elaine M. Smith ; project coordinator, Randolph H. Boehm. 27889 Microfilm |  E185.97.B34 A22 1997 Guide

The Martin Luther King, Jr., FBI fileThis file, designated number 100-106670 by the FBI, chronicles the career of Dr. King and the civil rights movement during the sixties. Included are the Bureau's responses to charges of harassment that emerged after King's death.  18762 Microfilm  |  E185.97 .K5 1984 guide (another copy of the guide is located in the Main Library Stacks)

Papers of the American slave trade. Series A, Selections from the Rhode Island Historical Society [microform] MSU has Ser.A:pt.1:r.1-23 and Ser.A:pt.2:r.1-30  27912 Microfilm  |   E445 .R4 1998 Guide only available at MSU; E445.R4 P37 ser.A microfilm and guides available at Library of Michigan.

Papers of the American slave trade. Series B, Selections from the Newport Historical Society [microform28980 Microfilm | E445.R4 P372 2004 Guide (Also available at the Library of Michigan)

Papers of the NAACP : part I, 1909-1950.   Microfilm reproduction of meetings of the board of directors, records of annual conferences, major speeches, and special reports.   17015 Microfilm Reels 8,  9, 11, and 12.    To be used with A guide to Papers of the NAACP : part I, 1909-1950. E185.5.N276G85

Papers of the NAACP : part 2, 1919-1939: personal correspondence of selected NAACP officials.    17015a Microfilm Reels 1-20   For guide see: A guide to Papers of the NAACP : part 2, 1919-1939.  E185.5.N276G86

Papers of the NAACP : Part 3, the campaign for educational equality : Legal Department and Central Office records, 1913-1950 / editorial advisor, August Meier.  17015b Microfilm  Series A. 1913-1940 -- Series B. 1940-1950.  Library has ser.A1:v.1-24,ser.B2:v.1-19

Papers of the NAACP : Part 6, The Scottsboro Case, 1931-1950.  24340 Microfilm Reels 1-4.  Accompanied by: Guide to the microfilm edition of Papers of the NAACP. Part 6, The Scottsboro Case, 1931-1950. E185.5.N276 S24.

Papers of  the NAACP :  Part 9, Discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces, 1918-1955 / project coordinator, Randolph Boehm.  29005 Microfilm  60 microfilm reels.  Accompanied by microfilm guides -- E185.5 .P364 1989 ser. A-C

Papers of the NAACP : part 10, peonage, labor and the New Deal, 1913-1939 / edited by John H. Bracey and August Meier ; project coordinator, Randolph Boehm ; guide compiled by David Werning.  17015i Microfilm Reels 1-4, 14, 16  |    E185.5.N276 G85 Pt.10 Guide

Papers of the NAACP : Part 11 Special subject files, 1912-1939 / project coordinator, Randolph Boehm.  23034 Microfilm  |  Accompanied by guide: E185.5.N276B645 1991

Papers of the NAACP : Part 13, NAACP and labor, 1940-1955, Series A, Subject files on labor conditions and employment discrimination, 1940-1955 / edited by John H. Bracey, Jr. and August Meier ; project coordinator, Randolph H. Boehm.   23971 Microfilm Reels 1-8, 13-21

Papers of the NAACP : Part 13, NAACP and labor, 1940-1955, Series B, Cooperation with organized labor, 1940-1955  / edited by John H. Bracey, Jr. and August Meier ; project coordinator, Randolph H. Boehm.  27890 Microfilm Reels 22, 23, 25  |  Accompanied by guide E185.5 .N276 B38 1992

Papers of the NAACP : Part 13, NAACP and labor, 1940-1955, Series C, Legal Department Files on Labor, 1940-1955  / edited by John H. Bracey, Jr. and August Meier ; project coordinator, Randolph H. Boehm.  24227 Microfilm | Accompanied by a printed reel guide E185.5.N276B655 1991.

Papers of the NAACP. Supplement to part 13 : the NAACP and labor, 1956-1965 / edited by John H. Bracey, Jr. and August Meier, project coordinator, Randolph H. Boehm.  27952 Microfilm

Papers of the NAACP : Part 14, Race relations in the international arena, 1940-1955 / editorial advisors, John H. Bracey, Jr. and August Meier ; project coordinator, Randolph H. Boehm.  27727 Microfilm reels 4, 5, 7, 11. 13, 17   |   Accompanied by a printed reel guide: E185.5.N276B656 1993

Papers of the NAACP : Part 19, Youth file. Series A, 1919-1939 / edited by John H. Bracey, Jr. and August Meier ; project coordinator, Randolph H. Boehm.   27726 Microfilm Reels 1-5 | Accompanied by a printed reel guide E185.5.N276 L473 1995

Papers of the NAACP : Part 20, White resistence and reprisals, 1956-1965 / edited by John H. Bracey, Jr. and August Meier ; project coordinator, Randolph H. Boehm.   29007 Microfilm  Reels 1-4, 9, 13 |  Accompanied by a printed reel guide  E185.61 .N378 1996

Papers of the NAACP: Personal Correspondence of Selected NAACP Officials.  Microfilm records of the NAACP, 1919-1939.  17015a Microfilm     E185.5.N276 L473 Pt.2, (2 West, Microform Guides).

Paul Robeson collection [microform].  Includes correspondence, speeches, newspaper and magazine excerpts by and about Robeson from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture23970 Microfilm  |  E185.97.R63 W4 1991

The Peonage files of the U.S. Department of Justice, 1901-1945 / edited by Pete Daniel.  Frederick, MD : University Publications of America, c1989.   23067 Microfilm  r.11-14 | HD4875.U5 G85 1989

Race, Slavery, and Free Blacks. Series II, Petitions to southern county courts, 1775-1867 [microform].  Reproduces a collection of approx. 3,000 petitions assembled by the Race and Slavery Petitions Project, University of North Carolina at Greensboro from state archives  This portion covers Alabama (1821-1867), Florida (1821-1867), Georgia (1796-1867), and Mississippi (1822-1867).  29014 Microfilm |  E441 .R29 2003 Guide

Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior relating to the suppression of the African slave trade and Negro colonization, 1854-1872 [microform].  Washington [D.C.] : National Archives, 1949.  10 reels.  4388 Microfilm  | Guide at beginning of Reel 1

Records of the Tuskegee Airmen 29058 Microfilm |UG834.A37 R43 2005 Guide

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee papers, 1959-1972
19004 Microfilm; Shelved in Microforms Library, 2 West
Microform guide for this collection also available on 2 West. Call number: Z1361.N39 S88 1982 guide

Subject Guide

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