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.
Michigan State University

African American Studies Research Guide: African American Communities

African American Communities

Connect to African American Communities

From communal struggle to creative outpourings: uncover the everyday lives of African Americans spanning two turbulent centuries.

This online resource showcases a diverse range of primary source material focusing on race relations across social, political, cultural and religious arenas. A vital resource for students, teachers and researchers of African American and American studies. 

Focusing predominantly on Atlanta, Chicago, St Louis, Brooklyn, and towns and cities in North Carolina this collection presents multiple aspects of the African American community through personal diaries and scrapbooks, pamphlets, newspapers and periodicals, correspondence, official records and in-depth oral histories, revealing the prevalent challenges of racism, discrimination and integration, and a unique African American culture and identity. Also featured is a rich selection of visual material, including photographs, postcards, maps and ephemera.

"Researchers, students, and teachers will find in this collection an astonishing array of incredibly rich and diverse primary source material from a variety of archives. By including documents from a range of urban centers, small towns, and even some rural communities, Adam Matthew has given researchers one stop access to more than a century of African American social, political, cultural, and religious history."

Key themes covered include:

  • Desegregation – focusing on schools, hospitals, transport and other areas of public life. Documents show legal battles, campaigns in favour of integration and public reaction.
  • Urban renewal and housing problems – featuring papers on housing and race relations, planning records and papers of neighbourhood councils.
  • Civil rights activities and protests – from material on Atlanta’s police department to Chicago riots and student protests at Washington University, St. Louis.
  • Race relations and community integration – featuring documents charting increased African American home ownership in Chicago and the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis.
  • African American culture – documents showcasing an eclectic array of creative expression from artists and actors, to writers and musicians.

A wealth of diverse primary source material has been sourced from six contributing archives, libraries and museums, depicting various aspects of African American community and culture.

Michigan State University