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African American Studies Research Guide: Special Collections

Contents

Special Collections has many resources related to African Americans.  This web page will attempt to list some of them.

African American Classics : First Editions

Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave / written by himself.  Boston : Published at the Anti-slavery Office, 1845.  125pp.  Rare Book Collection E449 .D749 1845  :  1845 memoir and treatise on abolition written by famous orator and former slave Frederick Douglass. It is generally held to be the most famous of a number of narratives written by former slaves during the same period. In factual detail, the text describes the events of his life and is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement of the early 19th century in the United States.  Also see Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave wikipedia entry.

Poems on various subjects, religious and moral / by Phillis Wheatley, Negro servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston, in New-England. Dedicated to the Countess of Huntingdon.  Walpole, N.H. : Printed for Thomas & Thomas, by David Newhall, 1802.  86pp.  Rare Books Collection XX PS866.W5 P6 : Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral is the first published volume of poetry by an African-American author. This fact in itself would make the book significant, but Phillis Wheatley’s Poems has a complicated and fascinating history of its own. -- Readers of the 1773 first edition would have been familiar with biographical details of Wheatley’s life. Born around 1754, the future poet was kidnapped from some part of Africa and transported to Boston aboard the slave ship Phillis in 1761. A frail child of not more than seven, she miraculously survived a transatlantic journey that killed nearly a quarter of her fellow-passengers (a figure slightly higher than average for slave ships of that time). -- Most of the Phillis’s human cargo was sold in the Caribbean. Only those unfit for work on the plantations—women, children, the elderly, sick, or disabled—continued on to Boston to be sold as domestic servants. Slavery was legal in all of the British colonies in the mid-18th century, but African slaves were fairly uncommon in New England. -- John Wheatley, a prosperous Boston merchant and devout Congregationalist, purchased the little girl as a companion for his wife, Susanna. She was named after the ship that brought her from Africa. Once in the Wheatley home, Phillis quickly displayed an aptitude for learning. Her education, likely undertaken by Susanna Wheatley and her 18-year-old daughter, Mary, was equivalent to that of the daughters of any well-off  New England family of the time. A prefatory note to the Poems describes Phillis’s early life and education.

Uncle Tom's cabin; or, Life among the lowly. By Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Boston, J. P. Jewett, 1852.  1st edition, 2 vols.  Rare Books Collection XX PS2954 .U5 1852  : An anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War", according to Will Kaufman.  Uncle Tom's Cabin wikipedia entry.

Native Son / by Richard Wright.  New York : London, Harper & Bros., 1940.  1st edition, 359pp.  Rare Books Collection PS3545.R815 N3 1940 c.2 : Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright's novel is just as powerful today as when it was written -- in its reflection of poverty and hopelessness, and what it means to be black in America.

A Street in Bronzeville, by Gwendolyn Brooks.  New York and London, Harper & brothers, 1945.  1st edition, 57pp.  Rare Books Collection PS3503.R7244 S8  : Pulitzer prize winner.  In Ms. Brooks's early poetry, Chicago's vast black South Side is called Bronzeville. It was ''A Street in Bronzeville,'' her first poetry anthology, that attracted the attention of the literary establishment in 1945. -- The Bronzeville poems were recommended to the editors of Harper & Row by Richard Wright, who admired her ability to capture ''the pathos of petty destinies, the whimper of the wounded, the tiny incidents that plague the lives of the desperately poor, and the problems of common prejudice.'' -- But it was more than Ms. Brooks's ability to write about struggling black people, particularly black women. There was also her mastery of the language of poetry. -- ''Miss Brooks has a command over both the colloquial and the more austere rhythms,'' the critic Rolfe Humphries wrote in The New York Times Book Review about the poems in ''A Street in Bronzeville.'' Calling her ''a real poet,'' Mr. Humphries said of her technique, ''There is a range of form: quatrains, free verse, ballads, sonnets -- all appropriately controlled.''  Note: pages 2 and 3 missing.

The autobiography of Malcolm X. With the assistance of Alex Haley. Introd. by M. S. Handler. Epilogue by Alex Haley.  New York, Grove Press [c1965]   1st edition, 455pp.  Radicalism Collection E185.97.L5 A3 c.12 : Published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X's 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X's philosophy of black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism. After the leader was killed, Haley wrote the book's epilogue. Wikipedia.

African American Cookbooks

African American Cookbooks.   Ruth Ann Jones highlights some of the earliest African American cookbooks  in Special Collections as well as providing tips on how to track down other African American cookbooks in the MSU Libraries.

Artifacts

Check out Finding Artifacts in Special Collections: Ethnic studies for unusual items available in Special Collections related to Ethnic Studies.

Bertram Fitzgerald

Read the story of Bertram Fitzgerald, the person who created the Golden Legacy series.

Featured Titles

Black comix : African American independent comics, art and culture / Damian Duffy & John Jennings ; foreword by Keith Knight.  New York : Mark Batty Publisher, c2010.  175pp.  Comic Art PN6725 .D818 2010 : The immense popularity of comics and graphic novels cannot be ignored. But in light of the comics boom that has taken place over the past 10 years, the artists, writers and publishers that make up the vibrant African American independent comics community have remained relatively unknown – until now. Black Comix brings together an unprecedented collection of largely unheard of, and undeniably masterful, comics art while also framing the work of these men and women in a broader historical and cultural context....With a foreword by Keith Knight and over 50 contributors, including Phonzie Davis, Jan-Michael Franklin, Frances Liddell, Kenjji Marshall, Lance Tooks, Rob Stull, Ashley A. Woods and many, more, the cross section of comics genres represented includes manga, superheroes, humor, history, science fiction and fantasy. This book is a must-have for comics readers.

The darker mask : [heroes from the shadows] / edited by Gary Phillips and Christopher Chambers.  New York : Tor, 2008.  368pp.  Comic Art PS647.A35 D3 2008 : When most of us think “superhero,” we tend to think of world savers, people in costumes with special powers. But what about superheroes for today’s world, people who are “plain old us” (to quote the editors’ introduction)—not world savers but “flawed and scared” people who live in the real world . . . and occasionally outside it? This mostly excellent collection of 18 short stories features contributions by such notables as Lorenzo Carcaterra (about a vengeful healer), Walter Mosley (a cursed crook), and Peter Spiegelman (a crime fighter whose secret elixir is wine). These aren’t stories about cartoon heroes, although some of them, like Spiegelman’s, feature some of the trappings of comic-book superhero tales. They are, instead, stories about recognizably human characters whose lives have a dark and scary side: in L. A. Banks’ “Dream Knights,” for example, the heroine works for a paper-supply company, but when she is asleep, she battles evil in the dreamscape. Not all of the stories here are gems, but none of them are duds, either. A solid and interesting collection that should appeal to fans of the superhero genre, especially those willing to explore the subject from a new and darker perspective.

Underground and Independent Comics Selections

Jackie Ormes: The First African-American Woman Cartoonist In The Comics Journal, no. 299. (Fantagraphics Books, 2009). page(s) 112-113

MY LIFE AS AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN CARTOONIST In The Comics Journal, no. 150. (Fantagraphics Books, 1992). page(s) 102-107

Keith Knight (Cartoonist)

Lynching

Anthologies Available in Special Collections:

Are We Feeling Safer Yet?

Dances with sheep : a K chronicles compendium : cartoons

Fear of a black marker : another K chronicles compendium : cartoons

The Incredible Cuteness of Being

Make America Hate Again

Red, White, Black, & Blue

They Shoot Black Peole, Don't They?

Too Small to Fail

Ethnic Studies African American Collection

African American materials in Special Collections are rich in a variety of formats, covering several decades and ranging from assorted political and cultural magazines and newspapers, through rare books and popular literature. Over 45 serial titles represent magazines and newspapers from all areas of the United States. Some are political in nature, such as The Black Panther, newspaper of the Black Panther Party. Others are samples of popular magazines not generally retained by by research libraries, like Jet and Sepia. Cataloged collections of over 50 African American related film scripts and over 100 pieces of sheet music support studies of the Black presence in mainstream American popular culture. Special Collections was one of the original depositories for the transcripts of the Black Women Oral History Project, conducted at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, on the History of Women in America. Early works on slavery, the slave trade, and the anti-slavery movement are also present.

Check out a new Resistance to Slavery, Abolition, and Anti-Abolition: Primary Sources in Special Collections  libguide highlighting materials in Special Collections.

Black Women's History and Culture: Primary Sources in Special Collections

American Radicalism Vertical File Folders

African-American literature : file of clippings and miscellanea.  (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African American poets : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African-American women- bibliography : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African-American women: Biography : file of pamphlets and clippings. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African-American women : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African-American women's autobiography : file of clippings and miscellanea.  (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African-Americans- bibliography : file of clippings and miscellanea.  (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African-Americans- biography : file of clippings and miscellanea.  (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African Americans- Education : file of pamphlets, clippings and miscellanea.  (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African-Americans- employment : file of clippings and miscellanea.  (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African-Americans : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African-Americans- history : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

African-Americans- Lansing, Mich. : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

AIDS and African Americans : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Angela Davis : file of clippings, pamphlets and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Anita Hill : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Black and White Men Together : file of newsletters and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Black Appalachian Commission : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Black liberation movement : file of clippings and miscellanea.  (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Black Muslims : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Black nationalism : file of clippings, pamphlets, and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Black Panther Party : file of clippings, pamphlets and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Civil rights movement : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Detroit riots, 1967 : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Harriet Tubman : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Institute of the Black World : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Jesse Jackson : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

League of Revolutionary Black Workers : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Louis Farrakhan : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Lynching of Michael Donald in Mobile, Alabama on March 21, 1981 : information file. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Malcolm X : file of clippings and pamphlets. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963 : file of leaflets and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Social Change : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Martin Luther King, Jr. : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Michigan State University Black Liberation Front : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Michigan State University Black Student Alliance : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

NAACP Legal Defense Fund : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Rosa Parks : file of newspaper clippings and micellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

Sojourner Truth Organization : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

United Black Workers : file of clippings and miscellanea. (American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF))

All American Radicalism Vertical Files.

Sunday School Books Collection

Check out the Shaping the Values of Youth : Sunday School Books in 19th Century America collection.  Individual books in this collection grapple with the problematic issues of slavery, African-Americans, and Native Americans.

Comic books and graphic novels

For a complete list of all comic books, strips, etc. about African Americans in Special Collections , search

African Americans--Comic books, strips, etc. as a subject in our online catalog.

Selected titles:

37 greatest army heroes : including the story of Milton Olive III, first negro to win the Medal of Honor in Vietnam / [textual matter prepared by Arthur S. Curtis] ; preface by W.C. Westmoreland.  [Washington, D.C. : The Author?] c1969.  192pp.   Comic Art E181 .C953 1969 

Bass Reeves / Joel Christian Gill.  Golden, CO : Fulcrum Publishing, 2014.  126pp.  Comic Art F697.R44 G55 2014  : Bass Reeves : Tales of the Talented Tenth tells the story of Bass Reeves, an escaped slave who became one of the most successful lawman of the Old West and the rumored inspiration for The Lone Ranger. Volume I chronicles his life from winning shooting matches in early childhood to traveling with his master, living with Native Americans in Indian Territory, and finally becoming a Deputy US Marshal. The Tales of the Talented Tenth series will feature stories about Black history in action.

Bessie Stringfield : Tales of the Talented Tenth, No. 2 / Joel Christian Gill. Fulcrum Publishing, 2014; : Imagine a five-foot-two-inch-tall woman riding a Harley eight times across the continental United States. Now imagine she is black and is journeying across the country in the pre-Civil Rights era of the 1930s and ’40s. That is the amazing true story of Bessie Stringfield, the woman known today as The Motorcycle Queen of Miami and the first black woman to be inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame and the Harley Davidson Hall of Fame. Stringfield was a pioneer in motorcycling during her lifetime; she rode as a civilian courier for the US military and founded the Iron Horse Motorcycle Club in Miami, all while confronting and overcoming Jim Crow in every ride.

Black CowboysSeattle, WA : Baylor Publishing Co. and Community Enterprizes, c1983. [32] p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm. Comic Art PN6728.3.F5 G6 v.12 Golden legacy ; v. 12 : Sample pages

The Black Inventors Latimer & Woods / [illustrated by Leo Carty ; research and text by Bertram Fitzgerald]. Seattle, WA : Baylor Publishing Co. and Community Enterprizes, c1983. [32] p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm. Comic Art PN6728.3.F5 G6 v.16 Golden legacy ; v. 16 : Features Lewis Howard Latimer, Granville T. Woods, and others.  Sample pages

Black Panther / [Peter B. Gillis, story ; Denys Cowan, pencils ; Sam De La Rosa, inks].  New York, N.Y. : Marvel Comics, 1988.  4 volumes.  Comic Art  PN6728.5.M3 B535 1988

Crispus Attucks and the Minutemen.   Seattle, WA : Baylor Publ. Co. and Community Enterprizes, c1983.  32] p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm. Comic Art PN6728.3.F5 G6 v.3  Golden legacy ; v. 3

Frederick DouglassNew York : Fitzgerald Publ. Co., c1969-1970.  2 vols.  Comic Art PN6728.3.F5 G6 v.7-8 Golden legacy ; v. 7-8 : Sample page

Hardware : the man in the machine / writer, Dwayne McDuffie ; pencillers, Denys Cowan, J.J. Birch ; inkers, Jimmy Palmiotti ... [et al.] ; colorist, Noelle Giddings ; letterers, Janice Chiang, Steve Haynie, Steve Dutro.  New York : DC Comics : Milestone, c2010.  190pp.  Comic Art PN6727.M263 H3 2010 : This first-ever HARDWARE collection introduces inventor/engineer Curt Metcalf, who begins his adventures by breaking free of his employer, businessman Edwin Alva, who refused to share the profits from Metcalf's many creations. Discovering that Alva is tied to organized crime, and learning that no law enforcement agency would touch him, Metcalf created the high tech Hardware armor that enabled him to work against Alva.

Icon : a hero's welcome / [Dwayne McDuffie & M.D. Bright ; foreword by Reginald Hudlin].  New York, NY : DC Comics, c1996.  190pp.  Comic Art PN6727.M263 I36 1996 : The flagship character from Milestone Comics is back in this new printing of the classic title collecting ICON #1-8. This is the title that introduced Augustus Freeman, a successful lawyer who covertly uses his alien super-powers to help those in need. But when a teenaged girl from the streets convinces him to use his abilities to inspire his people and becomes his sidekick, Rocket, the affluent Augustus embraces his true destiny and becomes Icon, the hero of Dakota.

Icon : mothership connection / Dwayne McDuffie, writer. New York : DC Comics, c2010.  42pp.  Comic Art PN6727.M263 I38 2010 : "In 1839, an alien star-liner malfunctioned and exploded. A jettisoned life pod crashed--in the middle of a cotton field, in the Deep South. The pod was equipped with a unique survival mechanism, which reconfigured the genetic structure of its passenger to match whatever life form it first encountered. And so it happened that Miriam, the slave woman who discovered the pod, found inside a baby boy with her mother's eyes. Stranded on our primitive world for nearly two centuries, the alien adopts the guise of successful lawyer Augustus Freeman IV. Eventually, encouraged by the passion of an opinionated young woman named Rocket, he dons a costume to symbolize Humanity's potential and uses his incredible powers to benefit us all as Icon, the Hero of Dakota. Now things are about to change. Icon's people have found him, and he's about to return to his home in another galaxy. But Rocket refuses to give up the dream. The world needs Icon, and she's determined to find someone to fill that role--even if it means somehow teaching the brain-damaged, 1970s blaxpoitation buffoon Buck Wild what it means to be a hero."

Joseph Cinqué and the Amistad mutiny / [written & illustrated by Joan Bacchus]. [Seattle, WA : Baylor Publ. Co. and Community Enterprizes, 1983.  28 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm.  Comic Art PN6728.3.F5 G6 v.10  Golden legacy ; v. 10

The Life of Benjamin BannekerSeattle, WA : Baylor Publ. Co. and Community Enterprizes, c1983.  28 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm. Comic Art PN6728.3.F5 G6 v.4 Golden legacy ; v. 4

The Life of Martin Luther King Jr. Seattle, WA : Baylor Publishing Co. and Community Enterprizes, c1983. 29 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm. PN6728.3.F5 G6 v.13   Golden legacy ; v. 13 : View entire issue

The Life of Matthew Henson / [written & illustrated by Joan Bacchus].  Seattle, WA : Baylor Publishing Co. and Community Enterprizes, c1986.  32 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm.  Comic Art PN6728.3.F5 G6 v.5 Golden legacy ; v. 5  The story of Matthew Henson, first man to reach the North Pole.

The Life of Robert Smalls / [illustrated by Don Perlin].  Seattle, WA : Baylor Publ. Co. and Community Enterprizes, c1983.  29 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm.  N6728.3.F5 G6 v.9 Golden legacy ; v. 9  In 1862 Robert Smalls, a 23-year-old mulatto slave, was employed by the Confederates in Charleston, S.C. as pilot of a transport steamer. He, his family, and other slaves sailed the steamer past confederate ports and surrendered to the Union blockaders, and was recognized as a hero by Abraham Lincoln. He would later serve in U.S. Congress.  Sample page

Men of Action : White, Wilkins & MarshallSeattle, WA : Baylor Publishing Co. and Community Enterprizes, c1983.  [32] p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm. Comic Art PN6728.3.F5 G6 v.11 Golden legacy ; v. 11 : Features Walter Francis White, Roy Wilkins, and Thurgood Marshall.  Sample page

Negro Americans, the early yearsWest Haven, Conn. : Pendulum Press, c1969.  61pp.  Comic Art E185 .N347 1969 : Some of the Classics Illustrated comics were comic books designed to educate children in history and politics. This is one of those. It concerns African-American history and features a number of potted biographies of key historical figures, including: Crispus Attucks, Phillis Wheatley, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, as well as information on the Underground Runway and the African-Americans' role in the Wild West. Cover page

The Saga of Harriet Tubman : The Moses of her peopleSt. Albans, New York : Fitzgerald Publ. Co., c1967]  23, [8] p : col. ill. ; 26 cm.  Comic Art PN6728.3.F5 G6 v.2 Golden legacy ; v. 2

Satchel Paige : striking out Jim Crow / by James Sturm & Rich Tommaso ; with an introduction by Gerald Early.  New York, N.Y. : Jump at the Sun : Hyperion, c2007.  89pp.  Comic Art PN6727.S79 S75 2007 : Satchel Paige began his baseball career in the Negro Leagues in Alabama in the 1920s. For years, Jim Crow laws, which segregated blacks and whites, kept him out of the major leagues. But they couldn't stop him from becoming a world-class athlete. This is a fictionalized account of a real-life sports hero.

 

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