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Michigan State University

African American Studies Research Guide: Reference Tools

Reference Tools

Reference books include dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, directories, manuals, handbooks, and much more. Reference books can help you

  1. explore a topic (find out what has been said about a topic, trends, issues, etc.
  2. identify unfamiliar terms or people in your reading
  3. find references to other books and articles on the topic, and
  4. find keywords to use in online searches.

This page pulls together a sample of both electronic and print reference tools.

Note:  There is a separate tab for biographies.

Term Paper Guide

Term Paper Resource Guide to African American History / Caryn E. Neumann.  Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2009.  304pp.  Main Library E184.7 .N47 2009 : Major help for African American history term papers has arrived to enrich and stimulate students in challenging and enjoyable ways. Students from high school age to undergraduate will be able to get a jump start on assignments with the hundreds of term paper projects and research information offered here in an easy-to-use format. Users can quickly choose from the 100 important events, spanning from the expansion of the slave trade to North America in 1581 to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Each event entry begins with a brief summary to pique interest and then offers original and thought-provoking term paper ideas in both standard and alternative formats that often incorporate the latest in electronic media, such as iPod and iMovie. The best in primary and secondary sources for further research are then annotated, followed by vetted, stable Web site suggestions and multimedia resources, usually films, for further viewing and listening. Librarians and faculty will want to use this as well.

Term Paper Resource Guide to African American History

African American Art

Our Art Librarian, Terrie Wilson, has compiled the following research guide for those interested in African American art:

 African American Art: a Guide to Resources 

Find Your Own Biographies!

MSU Libraries owns many biographies about individual people in book format.  To identify them, search the catalog by keyword with s:biography as one of the terms. 

Example : s:biography and african americans and 19th century

Or search "African Americans -- Biography"  as a subject in the MSU Libraries online catalog.


More advanced researchers may want to examine bibliographies -- compilations of authorative works on particular topics such as Native American Studies.

The African-American Mosaic. A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture (online) / Debra Newman Ham, Ed. Courtesy of ERIC, 1993. : This book presents a broad survey of the Library of Congress's holdings concerning the history and culture of black Americans in the United States. It provides titles of bibliographies, other guides, aids to finding materials, and individual items. This guide, which is arranged chronologically, discusses Library of Congress collections in three main parts: Part 1, "African-Americans in the Antebellum Period," includes materials about: slavery; free blacks; and abolitionists' antislavery movements, and sectional controversy. Part 2, "Emancipation and Beyond," begins with the Civil War, moves into the Reconstruction era, (which includes materials dating to approximately 1880), and ends with what is called the Booker T. Washington era, which spans the years from 1880 to approximately 1915. Part 3, "And the Pursuit of Happiness," discusses: World War I and Postwar Society; the Depression, the New Deal, and World War II; and the Civil Rights era. The guide contains an index.  An abridged version is listed under web sites.

Black American Feminism : A Multidisciplinary Bibliography (online).  An extensive bibliography of black American Feminist thought from across the disciplines. References date back to the nineteenth century when African American women like Maria Stewart, Anna Julia Cooper and Sojourner Truth challenged the conventions and mores of their era to speak publicly against slavery and in support of black women's rights. These African American women did not refer to themselves as feminists, however, their beliefs and activism ignited a tradition of anti-racist and anti-sexist political movement and thought which now defines black American feminism. Many black American women, inspired by these nineteenth century trailblazers have continued over the years to work toward the eradication of race and gender inequality, among other systems of oppression, which have historically subjugated black American women. Compiled by Sherri L. Barnes, University of California, Santa Barbara Libraries

Harvard Guide to African-American history / Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, editor-in-chief ; Leon F. Litwack and Darlene Clark Hine, general editors ; Randall K. Burkett, associate editor ; foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  Harvard University Press, 2001.  Main Library and Faculty Book Collection  E185 .H326 2001 ; accompaning CD-ROM available in the Digital and Multimedia Center (4 West) :  Twelve essays provide overviews of archival collections, tools, and resources for doing research using such materials as manuscripts, newspapers, music, and photographs. Following these is an extensive bibliography arranged by time period and by topics. In addition, women, regional and local studies, and autobiography and biography are featured in a special section. Includes an author index

Voices of the spirit [electronic resource] : sources for interpreting the African American experience.  Amerian Library Association. 1995.

For a more extensive listing, visit the MSU Library online catalog and try the following keyword search s:African Americans Bibliography

For a shorter list, search "African Americans -- Bibliography"  as a subject in the MSU Library online catalog.

Basic Reference Tools (Online)

If you don't know where to start, you may want to try one of the following online compilations of reference tools:

Gale Virtual Reference Library ; Includes encyclopedic articles on historical and contemporary Natie American research topics.  Note;  It may be necessary to click on Gale products more than once before they open!

Oxford Reference Online : Contains online versions of dictionaries and encyclopedias previously published in paper by the Oxford University Press.

Sage Reference Online : Includes numerous encyclopedias and handbooks, primarily in the Social Sciences.

And a few more specialized online tools :

The African American Almanac [online] / Christopher A. Brooks, editor ; foreword by Benjamin Jealous.  Detroit: Gale, 2011.  1601pp.  Available online as part of the Gale Virtual Reference Library : Provides a range of historical and current information on African American history, society and culture. Includes coverage of such topics as: Africa and the Black diaspora; film and television; landmarks; national organizations; population; religion; science and technology; and sports.  Contents : Chronology -- African American firsts -- Significant documents in African American history -- African American landmarks -- Africa and the African diaspora -- Africans in America: 1600 to 1900 -- Civil rights -- Black nationalism -- National organizations -- Law -- Politics -- Population -- Employment and income -- Entrepreneurship -- Family and health -- Education -- Religion -- Literature -- Media -- Film and television -- Drama, comedy, and dance -- Classical music -- Sacred music traditions -- Blues and jazz -- Popular music -- Visual and applied arts -- Science and technology -- Sports -- Military.

American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922.   This digital edition of the American Antiquarian Society’s extraordinary holdings of slavery and abolition materials delivers more than 3,500 works published over the course of more than 100 years. The American Slavery Collection addresses every facet of American slavery—one of the most important and controversial topics in U.S. history. These diverse materials, all filmed in full-resolution color, include books, pamphlets, graphic materials, and ephemera; among them are a large number of invaluable Southern imprints.

The American Mosaic : The African American Experience / ABC-CLIO.  : Developed with the guidance of African American librarians and subject specialists, The American Mosaic: The African American Experience (AAE) is the widest ranging and easiest-to-use online database collection on African American history and culture....The African American experience encompasses the contributions of myriad individuals from the black community who have achieved success in the arts, science, business, the military, and in politics as well as nameless others that endured the travails of slavery and institutionalized discrimination. A collection that taps a tremendous variety of sources is required to cover a topic of this magnitude and the importance to understanding African American history and its relation to greater U.S. history....The American Mosaic: The African American Experience is the definitive electronic research tool for African American history and culture. Now benefiting from improved search functions and a simpler, more consistent learning platform, this ever-expanding collection provides the highest-level of scholarship in the field. This database meets two primary design goals: to provide reliable information from expert contributors; and to allow African Americans to illustrate their experiences through a wealth of primary sources....Drawing on multiple titles and assembled with the guidance of leading librarians, AAE gives voice to the African American experience from its African origins to the present day. This vast and accessible database covers history, biographies, literature, arts, music, popular culture, folklore, business, slavery, the struggle for civil rights, politics, sports, education, science, medicine, and other themes....The Analyze sections are specifically designed to initiate critical thinking and provide instructors with everything needed for lively, historical inquiry lessons. And like all of ABC-CLIO's electronic products, The African American Experience is regularly updated with new content, additional documents, and innovative multimedia to ensure that it continues to be the most active and dynamic resource available....The Academic database includes a feature titled "Idea Exchange." This collection of peer-reviewed articles presents multiple perspectives on core topics and is designed to encourage deeper scholarly exploration and discussion. The articles serve as models of well-constructed argumentative essays. And, they are citable for college- and university-level research papers. Users will find current MLA 7th edition, Chicago 15th ed., and APA 6th edition citation options to help simplify the bibliographic process.

Oxford African American Studies Center : Provides students, scholars and librarians with more than 10,000 articles by top scholars in the field. The core content includes:


In addition to the full-text of these works, the Center draws on other key resources from Oxford's reference program, including the Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature, the Oxford Companion to Black British History, and selected articles from other major reference titles. Over 2,500 images, more than 450 primary sources with specially written commentaries, and nearly 200 maps have been collected to enhance this reference content. More than 150 charts and tables offer information on everything from demographics to government and politics to business and labor to education and the arts....A key feature of the Oxford African American Studies Center site is the ongoing editorial program. The site continues to grow with new and updated content added on a regular basis, including the latest biographies from the African American National Biography project and additional primary documents with commentary.

Proquest Black Studies Center : Black Studies Center is a fully cross-searchable gateway to Black Studies including scholarly essays, recent periodicals, historical newspaper articles, and much more. It combines several resources for research and teaching in Black Studies: Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, International Index to Black Periodicals (IIBP), The Chicago Defender, and the Black Literature Index.  Individual items (592) available through Black Studies Center are cataloged.

Recommended Reference Tools, A-D

Note:  Reference works related to African American literature have been pulled and placed under the literature tab.

African American Breakthroughs : 500 Years of Black Firsts / Jay P. Pederson and Jessie Carney Smith, editors. New York : U X L, c1995.  280pp.  Main Library E185 .A2523 1995 : Breakthroughs provides fascinating details on hundreds of milestones involving African Americans. Chronology features significant milestones in all aspects of African American history beginning in 1492.

The African American Encyclopedia / Michael W. Williams, editor. New York : Marshall Cavendish Corp., 1993.  6 volumes.  Main Library Stacks E185 .A253 1993 : This aesthetically pleasing set with abundant photographs takes readers from ancient African kingdoms to the beginning of the 1990s, covering all aspects of African American life. The writing style is down-to-earth and nonthreatening, making it suitable for younger users as well as adults. The entries, varying in length from a few lines to several pages, are arranged alphabetically and in some cases accompanied by suggested reading lists. A wide range of personalities and personages are covered, some unique to this source.

African American History [electronic resource] / editor Kibibi Mack-Shelton, PhD.  Amenia, New York : Salem Press : Grey House Publishing, 2017.  1 online resource (819 pages) : illustrations.  : Chronicles the rich history of African Americans, with articles on the major social, political, economic, and cultural events and developments of nearly four centuries.

African American History Day by Day [electronic resource] : a Reference Guide to Events / Karen Juanita Carrillo.  Santa Barbara, Calif. : Greenwood, 2012.  420pp.  E185 .C34 2012  Online : Carrillo, a writer and photographer who specializes in African American and Afro-Latina history, proceeds day by day through the calendar describing key events in African American history. Entries are accompanied by an excerpt from a relevant book or newspaper presented in boxed text and include lists of books and websites for further study. A lengthy bibliography is provided.

African American Leadership : A Reference Guide / Tyson King-Meadows.  Santa Barbara : Mission Bell Media, 2015.  on order : n authoritative, up-to-date reference guide organized in A to Z fashion covering all the major inter-disciplinary themes related to individual and group leadership in the African American communities and beyond. Key themes include African American academic, business, political, scientific and sports leadership.

African American YearbookMcLean, Va. : TIYM Pub. Co., 2002.  Latest available : 2nd ed. or 2002 Main Library E185.5 .A26 : Recognized as the premier national resource and referral guide for the African American community in the areas of employment, business, education, government, and health, this guide includes detailed listings of community organizations, publications, and media outlets in the United States and abroad; financial aid opportunities for students; career and business opportunities for professionals; health-related information; and statistical data.

Africana : the Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.  Africana Library (2 East) DT14 .A37435 2005 : Covers every facet of Africa and the African diaspora, with a focus on African-American political, social, and cultural history.  Entries range from topics such as the family, religion, health, and the law to the fine arts, music, the media, and literature.

Black America  : a state-by-state historical encyclopedia / edited by Alton Hornsby, Jr.  Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, c2011.  1 online resource (2 v.) : ill.  E185 .B537 2011 Online : African American populations are established in every area of the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska (more than10 percent of the population of Fairbanks, Alaska, is African American). Black Americans have played an invaluable role in creating our great nation in myriad ways, including their physical contributions and labor during the slavery era; intellectually, spiritually, and politically; in service to our country in military duty; and in areas of popular culture such as music, art, sports, and entertainment....The chapters extend chronologically from the colonial period to the present. Each chapter presents a timeline of African American history in the state, a historical overview, notable African Americans and their pioneering accomplishments, and state-specific traditions or activities. This state-by-state treatment of information allows readers to take pride in what happened in their state and in the famous people who came from their state.

Black Firsts : 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events / Jessie Carney Smith.  Detroit : Visible Ink, c2003.  2nd edition, 787pp.  Main Library E185 .B574 2003 :Covers major African American achievements in arts and entertainment, business, civil rights, education, government, religion, science, sports, and other fields.

Chronology of African American History : From 1492 to the Present / Alton Hornsby, Jr.  Detroit : Gale Research, c1997.  2nd edition, 720pp.  Main Library E185 .H64 1997

The Columbia Guide to African American History Since 1939Columbia University Press.  442pp.  Main Library E185.6 .C715 2006 :  There is no shortage of recently published or forthcoming reference works concerning the African American experience. This includes the six-volume second edition of the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (CH, Oct'06, 44-0699). However, this new eclectic guide proves valuable as a one-stop work for quick reference as well as basic historical research. The guide covers the period just prior to WW II through the present, and everything is nicely laid out in an extensive chronology. Eight essays on various topics from music and the arts to military and business precede the chronology and a section of A-Z encyclopedic entries of important African American personalities, organizations, and events. There is also an extensive bibliographical resource guide that lists broad topics such as "Affirmative Action," which are stratified into narrower subtopics and various categories of resources. The guide offers concise geographical listings of major libraries, museums, and historical places, as well as a list of African American newspapers and Web sites for further research. There is also a well-constructed index for easy lookup of topics. 

A Companion to African American History (online).  Blackwell Reference Online, 2005 : A collection of original and authoritative essays arranged thematically and topically, covering a wide range of subjects from the seventeenth century to the present day. From their origins in West Africa on the eve of slave trading, through slavery itself and its abolition in the turmoil of the Civil War, and then over the rest of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, as they struggled for freedom, identity, and place, African Americans occupy a central role in their country's history. This companion surveys the scholarly literature in African American history and provides a guide to the research, analyses, and various interpretations and perspectives that historians have developed over the past fifty years.

A Companion to African American Philosophy (online).  Blackwell Reference Online, 2005  : The wide-ranging, multidisciplinary collection of newly commisssioned articles brings together distinguished voices in the field of Africana philosophy and African-American social and political thought....Topics covered include philosophic traditions; the moral and political legacy of slavery; Africa and diaspora thought; gender, race, and racism; legal and social philosophy; and aesthetics and cultural values....The Companion provides a comprehensive critical survey of African-American philosophical thought by leading authorities. Addressing key themes, it will serve as a benchmark work of reference for courses in philosophy, social and political thought, legal studies, liberal studies, cultural studies, American studies, and African-American studies.

A Companion to African-American Studies (online)  / edited by Lewis R. Gordon and Jane Anna Gordon[Malden, Mass.] : Blackwell Reference Online, 2006  : A Companion to African-American Studies is an exciting and comprehensive re-appraisal of the history and future of African American studies. (1) Contains original essays by expert contributors in the field of African-American Studies. (2) Creates a groundbreaking re-appraisal of the history and future of the field. (3) Includes a series of reflections from those who established African American Studies as a bona fide academic discipline. (4) Captures the dynamic interaction of African American Studies with other fields of inquiry. Also available in print.

Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery.  Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 1997. 892pp.  Main Library E441 .D53 1997 : Provides a synthesis of scholarship on slavery in North America, from the first English settlement to Reconstruction. Its substantial, signed entries cover people, descriptions of slavery in specific states, religion, economics, and other relevant subjects. Articles are followed by a selected list of references for additional research. Includes a chronology, maps, graphs, and cross-references. 

Recommended Reference Tools, E-I

Encyclopedia of African American Artists /  Dele Jegede.  Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, c2009.   Fine Arts Art Reference (4 West) N6538.N5 J44 2009 : African American heritage is rich with stories of family, community, faith, love, adaptation and adjustment, grief, and suffering, all captured in a variety of media by artists intimately familiar with them. From traditional media of painting and artists such as Horace Pippin and Faith Ringgold, to photography of Gordon Parks, and new media of Sam Gilliam and Martin Puryear (installation art), the African American experience is reflected across generations and works. Eight pages of color plates and black and white images throughout the book introduce both favorite and new artists to students and adult readers alike.

Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights : From Emancipation to the Present.  Greenwood.  Main Library E185.61 .E54 1992 : More than 800 brief entries about people, places, legislation, events, and constitutional cases related to civil rights through 1990. Most entries provide a bibliography for further research. Concludes with a chronology covering 1861-1990 and a bibliography.

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History : the Black Experience in the Americas.  6 volumes. Reference (1 Center) E185 .E54 2006 : Presents a history of the black American experience from 1619 through the mid-1990s, with articles examining many aspects of culture, such as black identity, the Harlem Renaissance, and black English vernacular. Concludes with statistical charts; lists on many topics (e.g., agriculture, religion, health, sports); and a list of biographical entries by profession.

Encyclopedia of African American Education via Sage Reference Online : Each topic in this 2-volume encyclopedia is discussed as it relates to the education of African Americans. The entries provide a comprehensive overview of educational institutions at every level, from preschool through graduate and professional training, with special attention to historically and predominantly Black colleges and universities. The encyclopedia follows the struggle of African Americans to achieve equality in education—beginning among an enslaved population and evolving into the present—as the efforts of many remarkable individuals furthered this cause through court decisions and legislation.

Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage / Susan Altman ; special writing and research by Joel Kemelhor ; consultants, Arnold H. Taylor, Debra Newman Ham, Arthur Burt.  New York : Facts on File, c2000.  2nd edition, 353pp.  Main Library E185 .A455 2000 : Short entries describe places, political movements, cultures, events, and figures significant to African and African American history.

Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage (online).  New York : Facts On File, c1997.  1st edition, 308pp. : Black history in America and its rich African heritage in a one-volume encyclopedia? Yes, and well done to boot! In a clear, succinct style, Altman provides a wealth of information on individuals, peoples, places, events, movements, groups, legal cases, and terms. The emphasis is on African-American political and intellectual history but the author doesn't neglect people and events outside this focus--"Nat Love," "rap," etc. In addition, the history and culture of Africa, the African Diaspora, and individual African nations are included. Entries are alphabetical with most ranging between 150-200 words, although some are longer. Several subjects, such as "education" and "slavery," are covered at length. Entries are only disappointing when they are too short, such as the coverage of the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement. However, "see" and "see-also" references and/or lists of "recommended listening" and recommended reading are included for many of the articles. An extensive, up-to-date bibliography and accurate index conclude the volume. Illustrative material is limited primarily to dark black-and-white photos and a few maps.

Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895 : From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass / editor in chief, Paul Finkelman.  New York : Oxford University Press, 2006.  3 vols.  Main Library  E185 .E545 2006 : In nearly seven hundred entries, this Encyclopedia documents the range of the African American experience from the arrival of the first slave ship to the death of Frederick Douglass and shows how all aspects of American culture, history, and national identity have been profoundly influenced by the experience of African Americans. Topics include Abolitionism, the Civil War, the Dred Scott case, and also hundreds of fascinating entries on less obvious subjects, such as the African Grove Theatre, Black Seafarers, Cemeteries and Burials, the Secret Six, and much more. In addition, the Encyclopedia offers brief biographies of important African Americans—as well as white Americans who have played a significant role in African American history. 

Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present : From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-First Century / editor in chief, Paul Finkelman.  New York : Oxford University Press, 2009. 5 volumes.  Reference (1 Center) E185 .E5453 2009 :  Focusing on the making of African American society from the 1896 "separate but equal" ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson up to the contemporary period, this encyclopedia traces the transition from the Reconstruction Era to the age of Jim Crow, the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Migration, the Brown ruling that overturned Plessy , the Civil Rights Movement, and the ascendant influence of African-American culture on the American cultural landscape.   Includes the election of President Barack Obama.

Encyclopedia of African American History (online) / Leslie M. Alexander and Walter C. Rucker, editors.  Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, 2010.  3 volumes online.  E185 .E544 2010 Online : Prepared as a resource for students, high-school level and above, and for general readers, this thoughtfully conceived three-volume reference is structured around four thematic sections, each of which begins with an extended essay of 5,000 words. The themes are as follows: Atlantic African, American, and European backgrounds to contact, commerce, and enslavement; political activity and resistance to oppression--from the American Revolution to the Civil War; culture, identity, and community--from slavery to the present; and political activity, migration, and urbanization--Reconstruction, civil rights, and modern African America. Within these sections are 650 alphabetically-arranged essays ranging in length from 300 to 4,000 words. The entries include cross references and bibliographies and have been written with clarity and accuracy and with explanations (not editorializing) suitable for intelligent non-specialists. Editor Alexander identifies his political and intellectual "home" as the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell U., but both he and co-editor Rucker are affiliated with The Ohio State U., Columbus (their fields are, respectively, history, and African American and African studies). They have shaped the contributions of more than 100 scholars to present a multi-faceted history that extends to the present day--although they acknowledge somewhat lighter treatment of current times (for example, Obama's election is included, but not Hurricane Katrina or Michael Jackson's death).

Encyclopedia of African American Politics / Robert C. Smith.  New York : Facts On File, c2003.  418pp.  Main Library E185 .S58155 2003 : This reference contains more than 400 alphabetically arranged entries on various topics in African American politics, including court cases, political ideas, institutions, ideologies, and political processes. The essays are cross-referenced, and many are followed by suggestions for further reading. Some 70 illustrations and photographs accompany the text. Sample topics include the Reverend Al Sharpton, Pan- Africanism, the 1963 March on Washington, and white supremacy.

Encyclopedia of American Race Riots.  2 volumes.  Main Library  E184.A1 E573 2007 : Racial violence and the specific phenomenon of the race riot have always been part of the American landscape, but have seldom been covered encyclopedically. Rucker and Upton seek to fill that gap with this outstanding two-volume work, which focuses on American race riots (African American and white) from the Civil War to the present....The body of the work consists of nearly 205 cross-referenced entries written by 80 scholars; each entry concludes with a section of Further Readings. Discussions of specific riots obviously predominate, with expected related entries like the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., Lynching, The NAACP, and Al Sharpton well-represented, as are less-expected entries like Black Nadir, Exodusters, Niagara Movement, Radio Free Dixie, and White Capping. Special features include a chronology of American race riots and related events from 1863 through 2005, an impressive compilation of primary source documents, and an extensive bibliography of books, articles, and Web sites.

Encyclopedia of African American Society via Sage Reference Online : Do your students or patrons ever ask you about African Americans in sports? How about African American Academy Award winners? Or perhaps you’re asked about more complex social issues regarding the unemployment rate among African Americans, or the number of African American men on death row? ... This two-volume reference seeks to capture the ways in which the tenets and foundations of African American culture have given rise to today’s society. Approaching the field from a “street level” perspective, these two volumes cover topics of universal interest in America: rap music, sports, television, cinema, racism, religion, literature, and much more. The Encyclopedia of African American Society is also the first comprehensive yet accessible reference set in this field to give voice to the turbulent historical trends – slavery, segregation, “separate but equal”– that are often ignored in favor of mere facts. This is a definitive, reliable, and accessible entry point to learning the basics about African American society....The encyclopedia is anchored by alphabetically arranged essays on such topics as abolitionism, affirmative action, and the civil rights movement. More than just a "who's who", these volumes emphasize social issues and events—those filled with significance and consequence through history. Civil Rights, economic growth, law and justice, and politics—with all of their numerous subcategories—receive substantial coverage. The encyclopedia naturally contains hundreds of articles on notable African Americans (Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackie Robinson, Miles Davis), groundbreaking events (Emancipation Proclamation, Los Angeles Riots), sports and culture (Rap Music, Jazz), and significant heritage sites (Apollo Theater).

Encyclopedia of Black Studies via Sage Reference Online : The leading reference source for dynamic and innovative research on the Black experience. The concept for the encyclopedia was developed from the successful Journal of Black Studies (SAGE) and contains a full analysis of the economic, political, sociological, historical, literary, and philosophical issues related to Americans of African descent. This single-volume reference is the vanguard of the recent explosive growth in quality scholarship in the field....More than a chronicle of black culture or black people, this encyclopedia deals with the emergence and maturity of an intellectual field over the past four decades. Beginning with the protests at San Francisco State College in 1967 that led to the first degree-granting department of Black Studies, the field’s rapid growth over time necessitates an authoritative account of the discipline. More than ever scholars and students need a clear conception of what the evolutionary processes have been in the creation and maintenance of the discipline. 

Encyclopedia of Black Studies / edited by Molefi Kete Asante [and] Ama Mazama.  Thousand Oaks, CA : SAGE Publications, 2005.  531pp.  Main Library E185 .E554 2005 : The leading reference source for dynamic and innovative research on the Black experience. The concept for the encyclopedia was developed from the successful Journal of Black Studies (SAGE) and contains a full analysis of the economic, political, sociological, historical, literary, and philosophical issues related to Americans of African descent. This single-volume reference is the vanguard of the recent explosive growth in quality scholarship in the field. More than a chronicle of black culture or black people, this encyclopedia deals with the emergence and maturity of an intellectual field over the past four decades. Beginning with the protests at San Francisco State College in 1967 that led to the first degree-granting department of Black Studies, the field's rapid growth over time necessitates an authoritative account of the discipline.

Encyclopedia of race and racism [electronic resource] / Patrick L. Mason, editor in chief.  Detroit : Macmillan Reference USA, 2013.  2nd edition, 4 volumes.  E184.A1 E584 2013  Online : In more than 1,800 pages of alphabetical entries, each ranging from 500 to 1,2000 words, The Encyclopedia Of Race And Racism, 2nd Edition provides critical information and context on the underlying social, economic, geographical, and political conditions that, gave rise and continue to foster racism. Religion, political economy, social activism, health, concepts, and constructs are explored. Given the increasingly diverse population of the US and the rapid effects of globalization, as well as mass and social media, the issue of race in world affairs, history, and culture is of preeminent importance, and this work is designed to bring vetted and accessible facts and analysis to experts and students as well as lay readers.

Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora : Origins, Experiences, and Culture / Carole Boyce Davies, editor.  Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, c2008.  3 volumes.  Main Library DT16.5 .E53 2008 : The authoritative source for information on the people, places, and events of the African Diaspora, spanning five continents and five centuries.  Note:  Online version on order.

Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance / Cary D. Wintz, Paul Finkelman, editors.  New York : Routledge, 2004. 2 volumes.   Fine Arts Library (4 West) Art Reference Collection NX512.3.A35 E53 2004  : From the music of Louis Armstrong to the portraits by Beauford Delaney, the writings of Langston Hughes to the debut of the musical Show Boat, the Harlem Renaissance is one of the most significant developments in African-American history in the twentieth century. The Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance,  in two-volumes and over 635 entries, is the first comprehensive compilation of information on all aspects of this creative, dynamic period.

Encyclopedia of the Middle Passage / edited by Toyin Falola and Amanda Warnock.   Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2007.  426pp.  Africana Library (2 East) HT1322 .E63 2007 : For the first time, the Middle Passage—the experience of slaves on the trans-Atlantic ships—receives a full reference treatment in an encyclopedia. This A-to-Z reference consists of 226 signed entries arranged alphabetically, exhaustively covering the Middle Passage from a variety of perspectives for student research and browsing. Each essay entry concludes with suggestions for further reading. The encyclopedia includes an introductory overview of the trans-Atlantic slave trade as well as illustrations, bibliography, and chronology.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Encyclopedia. F. Erik Brooks and Glenn L. Starks. Greenwood, 2011.

Recommended Reference Tools, J-Z

Jim Crow Encyclopedia / edited by Nikki L.M. Brown and Barry M. Stentiford.  Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2008.  2 volumes.  Main Library E185.61 .J53 2008 : “Jim Crow” refers to a set of laws in many states, predominantly in the South, after the end of Reconstruction. in 1877 that severely restricted the rights and privileges of African Americans. This major encyclopedia is the first devoted to the Jim Crow era. It contains over 275 essay entries on such areas as law, media, business, politics, employment, religion, education, people, events, culture, the arts, protest, the military, class, housing, sports, and violence. Key primary documents are excerpted in side bars. The authoritative entries are written by a host of historians with expertise in the Jim Crow era.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Global Freedom Struggle Online Encyclopedia.  Search here for information on over 1000 civil rights movement figures, events and organizations; a chronology of the movement, and full-text documents published online.  Courtesy of Stanford University.

New York Public Library African American Desk Reference.  Wiley.  Main Library  E185 .N49 1999 : Compiled by the well respected Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, this reference is arranged into nineteen chapters covering topics such as slavery, civil rights, business, religion, education, law, science and technology, the arts, and sports.  Includes many charts, quotations, tables, and timelines.

Reference Library of Black America  / edited by Jessie Carney Smith, Joseph M. Palmisano.  Farmington Hills, MI : Gale Group, Inc. ; [U.S.?] : Distributed by African American Publications, Proteus Enterprises, c2000.  5 volumes.  Main Library E185 .R44 2000 :  Presents information on all aspects of African-American life including politics, employment and income, education, religion, literature, performing arts, science and medicine, and sports.

The State of Black America[New York] National Urban League.  Latest year in Reference (1 East); earlier years in Main Library E185.5 .S75 : The National Urban League's annual barometer of the conditions, experiences, and opinions of African-Americans. Includes the Equality Index and the National Urban League's groundbreaking Opportunity Compact, a comprehensive set of principles and social and economic policies of this nation. Published annually since 1976, The State of Black America report analyzes and addresses the issues central to Black America in the current year. Through the Equality Index and incisive, in-depth essays, the report measures black progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health, and other areas; forecasts social and political trends; and proposes concrete solutions to the community's, and America's, most pressing challenges.

Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America  (print) / contributing editor, Robert von Dassanowsky ; author of introduction, Rudolph J. Vecoli ; edited by Jeffrey Lehman.  Detroit : Gale Group, c2000.  3 vols. Main Library E184.A1 G14 2000  : Essays on approximately 150 culture groups of the U.S., from Acadians to Yupiats, covering their history, acculturation and assimilation, family and community dynamics, language and religion.

Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America. Primary documents (print) / edited by Jeffrey Lehman. Detroit, MI : Gale Group, c1999.  2 volumes.  Main Library E184.A1 G15 1999 : Primary documents, including letters, articles, cartoons, photos, and songs, illuminate the experience of culture groups in the U.S. from colonial times to the present.

The Gale encyclopedia of multicultural America / Thomas Riggs, editor.  Detroit : Gale, Cengage Learning, 2014.  3rd edition, 4 volumes.   E184.A1 G14 2014 : This third edition has been thoroughly reorganized and has 23 new entries, each covering an immigrant or indigenous group in the U.S. Although the writing on cultural history and political activity is well done, the information highlighted in separate boxes is what truly fleshes out each culture. Students will find population maps, Sioux proverbs, and a Salvadoran recipe for chili-lime mango.

Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (print) / Stephan Thernstrom, editor ; Ann Orlov, managing editor, Oscar Handlin, consulting editor.  Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press, 1980.  1076pp.  Oversize Collection (Basement, Center) E184.A1 H35  : Provides long, scholarly essays on all the ethnic groups in the United States, not only the immigrants and refugees who had come voluntarily but also those already in the New World when the first Europeans arrived, those whose ancestors came involuntarily as slaves, and those who became part of the American population as a result of conquest or purchase and subsequent annexation. Extensive bibliographies follow all major essays.

Multicultural America : An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans.  Ronald H. Bayor. Santa Barbara, Calif. : Greenwood, c2011.  4 volumes (Online resource) : One of the main reasons the United States has evolved so quickly and radically in the last 100 years is the large number of ethnically diverse immigrants that have become part of its population. People from every area of the world have come to America in an effort to realize their dreams of more opportunity and better lives, either for themselves or for their children. This book provides a fascinating picture of the lives of immigrants from 50 countries who have contributed substantially to the diversity of the United States, exploring all aspects of the immigrants' lives in the old world as well as the new. Each essay explains why these people have come to the United States, how they have adjusted to and integrated into American society, and what portends for their future. Accounts of the experiences of the second generation and the effects of relations between the United States and the sending country round out these unusually rich and demographically detailed portraits.  Immigrant groups include: Afghan, Argentinian, Bahamian, Bangladesh, Brazilian, Cambodian, Chilean, Chinese, Columbian, Costa Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Ecuadorian, Egyption, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Filipino, Ghanian, Guatemalan, Guyanese, Haitian, Honduran, Indian (Asian Indian), Indonesian, Iranian, Iraqi, Israeli Jewish, Jamaican, Japanese, Kenyan, Korean, Laotion, Lebanese, Liberian, Mexican, Nicaraguan, Nigerian, Pakistani, Palestinian and Jordanian, Panamanian, Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Salvadorian, Somalian, Sudanese, Taiwanese, Thai, Trinidadian and Tobagonian, Venezuelan, and Vietnamese.

Multicultural America : a multimedia encyclopedia / Carlos E. Cortés, editor, University of California, Riverside.  Thousand Oaks, California : SAGE Reference, A Division of SAGE Publications, Inc., 2013.  E184.A1 M8145 2013 Online via Sage Knowledge.  : This comprehensive title is among the first to extensively use newly released 2010 U.S. Census data to examine multiculturalism today and tomorrow in America. This distinction is important considering the following NPR report by Eyder Peralta: “Based on the first national numbers released by the Census Bureau, the AP reports that minorities account for 90 percent of the total U.S. growth since 2000, due to immigration and higher birth rates for Latinos.” According to John Logan, a Brown University sociologist who has analyzed most of the census figures, “The futures of most metropolitan areas in the country are contingent on how attractive they are to Hispanic and Asian populations.” Both non-Hispanic whites and blacks are getting older as a group. “These groups are tending to fade out,” he added. Another demographer, William H. Frey with the Brookings Institution, told The Washington Post that this has been a pivotal decade. “We’re pivoting from a white-black-dominated American population to one that is multiracial and multicultural.”  Pedagogical elements include an introduction, a thematic reader’s guide, a chronology of multicultural milestones, a glossary, a resource guide to key books, journals, and Internet sites, and an appendix of 2010 U.S. Census Data. Finally, the electronic version will be the only reference work on this topic to augment written entries with multimedia for today’s students, with 100 videos (with transcripts) from Getty Images and Video Vault, the Agence France Press, and Sky News

Multiculturalism in the United States : a Comparative Guide to Acculturation and Ethnicity (print) / edited by John D. Buenker and Lorman A. Ratner.   Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2005.  Rev. and expanded ed., 435pp.  Main Library E184.A1 M85 2005 : Contents -- Introduction / John D. Buenker and Lorman A. Ratner -- African Americans / Cynthia Greggs Fleming -- American Indians / Vine Deloria, Jr. -- Arab-Americans / Gregory Orfalea -- Asian Indian Americans / Karen I. Leonard -- Chinese Americans / George Anthony Peffer -- Dominican Americans / Silvio Torres-Saillant -- Filipino Americans / Augusto Espiritu -- German Americans / James M. Bergquist -- Haitian Americans / Marc Prou -- Irish Americans / Lawrence J. McCaffrey -- Italian Americans / Dominic Candeloro -- Jewish Americans / Edward S. Shapiro -- Korean Americans / Kyeyoung Park -- Mexican Americans / Matt S. Meier -- Polish Americans / Edward R. Kantowicz -- Scandinavian Americans / John Robert Christianson -- Vietnamese Americans / Hien Duc Do -- Bibliographical essay / John D. Buenker, Joseph D. Buenker, and Lorman A. Ratner.  Interest in ethnic studies and multiculturalism has grown considerably in the years since the 1992 publication of the first edition of this work. Co-editors Ratner and Buenker have revised and updated the first edition of Multiculturalism in the United States to reflect the changes, patterns, and shifts in immigration showing how American culture affects immigrants and is affected by them. Common topics that helped determine the degree and pace of acculturation for each ethnic group are addressed in each of the 17 essays, providing the reader with a comparative reference tool. Seven new ethnic groups are included: Arabs, Haitians, Vietnamese, Koreans, Filipinos, Asian Indians, and Dominicans. New essays on the Irish, Chinese, and Mexicans are provided as are revised and updated essays on the remaining groups from the first edition.

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Sojourner Truth, 1864

Three-quarter length portrait of Sojourner Truth. Born a slave in 1797 in Ulster County, New York, Sojourner Truth spoke out against slavery and injustice, and for women’s rights, making people from President Lincoln to street toughs listen. The phrase "I sell the shadow..." often accompanied copies of this portrait, which was sold to raise funds for the anti-slavery cause. In later life, Sojourner Truth lived in Battle Creek, Michigan. Source: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/Photographs and Prints Division/The New York Public Library.

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