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Michigan State University

African American Studies Research Guide: Find Articles


  • An article is a written piece from a publication such as a journal, magazine or newspaper. 
  • Faculty expect edited pieces from a valid publisher; information on the web from companies or individuals and wikipedia are usually unacceptable
  • Faculty may require articles of a particular type, i.e. newspaper, popular magazine, or scholarly journal.  See this chart for a refresher.
  • Access to articles is provided through licensed databases on the library website. These databases collect articles from many publications.
  • Some of the most useful of these databases for your discipline are listed to the right.  Others are found on our Electronic Resources web page where you find electronic resources broken out by type (indexes, newspapers, journals, for example) or by category (environmental studies).

Black Scholar

Black Scholar Founded in 1969, this is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal devoted to the exploration of cultural, political, social, and economic issues affecting black Americans and other peoples of African descent across the world

Contributions in Black Studies

Contributions in Black Studies: A Journal of African and Afro-American Studies (CIBS), was a periodical publication of the Five Colleges, Inc.: Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts, that appeared more or less annually from 1977 to 1997. The W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass Amherst is pleased to provide open access to the articles that appeared in CIBS through this electronic repository.

Journal of African American History

Journal of African American History.  Founded by Carter Woodson in 1916 as the Journal of Negro History. Since then, this journal has become one of the leading scholarly sources on African American life and history

Journal of African American Studies

Journal of African American Studies.  Examines topics concerning social transformations that impact the life chances of continental Africans and the African diaspora. It publishes original research on issues of professional and disciplinary concern for the social progress of people of African descent. The journal features empirical, methodological, and theoretical papers as well as literary criticism. It covers the full spectrum of this interdisciplinary field, containing diverse methods and perspectives that include anthropology, art, economics, law, literature, management science, political science, psychology, sociology, social policy research, and others.

Journal of Black Studies

Journal of Black Studies.  Peer-reviewed and published bi-monthly, for the last third of a century has been the leading source for dynamic, innovative, and creative research on the Black experience. Poised to remain at the forefront of the recent explosive growth in quality scholarship in the field of Black studies, JBS offers important and intellectually provocative articles exploring key issues facing African Americans.


Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men (Volume 1, Issue 1, 2012 on) is a multidisciplinary research journal whose articles will focus on issues related to aspects of Black men's experiences, including such topics as gender, masculinities, and race/ethnicity. Spectrum will examine the social, political, economic, and historical factors that influence the life chances and experiences of African-descended males using disciplinary and interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives, empirical methods, theoretical analysis, and literary criticism...It will seek to be a space where advocacy and imagination meet in order to reveal a global, complex Black manhood from the dawning of modernity through the present time.  Available through Project Muse.

The Crisis : Featured Magazine

The Crisis, founded by W.E.B. Du Bois as the official publication of the NAACP, is a journal of civil rights, history, politics, and culture and seeks to educate and challenge its readers about issues that continue to plague African Americans and other communities of color. For nearly 100 years, The Crisis has been the magazine of opinion and thought leaders, decision makers, peacemakers and justice seekers. It has chronicled, informed, educated, entertained and, in many instances, set the economic, political and social agenda for our nation and its multi-ethnic citizens.

Google Books allows one to browse through this magazine.  Check it out.

NAACP’s “The Crisis” 100th Anniversary (Vimeo) Trailer

Jet : Featured Magazine

Jet is another magazine made available over the Internet by Google books.

Negro Digest / Black World : Another Featured Magazine

Negro Digest / Black World is another African American magazine that has been digitized by Google Books.

How to Choose the Best Indexes/Databases


Don't know where to start?   Beginning in the Fall Semester 2014, the MSU Libraries is offering a discovery layer or interface called SearchPlus.  SearchPlus pulls together a large number of databases (including the Library Catalog) into a unified search engine, increasing one's chances of finding results by keyword or phrase.  Whenever possible, links are provided directly to the online source identified.

So this is a great tool for undergraduates not knowing where to start.   It is also a good starting point for graduate students and faculty looking for materials outside their established silos.  Once you do a search; note how SearchPlus offers a large number of facets on the left side to refine your search.

SearchPlus is a starting tool.   Advanced researchers will still want to explore more deeply in specialized databases, particularly those that are not covered by SearchPlus.

Black Periodical Indexes and Databases

African American periodicals, 1825-1995 (Readex) : Features more than 170 wide-ranging periodicals by and about African Americans.

Black Index : Afro-Americana in Selected Periodicals, 1907-1949 (print).  Richard Newman.  266pp. Main Library Z1361.N39 N58 : An index to periodical articles published about African Americans in popular and scholarly magazines from 1907 to 1949. (References from the Journal of Negro History have been excluded since that journal publishes its own index.) Access is by author and subject.

Black Literature Index (online), see Black Studies Center.

Black Studies Center (online).  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), historical black newspapers, and the Black Literature Index.

Index to Black Periodicals Collection (title varies). An annual author, title, and subject index to articles and book reviews by and about African Americans published in thirty-nine black journals from 1941 through 2001.

International Index to Black Periodicals (IIBP) (online), see Black Studies Center.  Chadwick Healy.  Full-text coverage of 40 core Black Studies periodicals (1998 to the present), along with indexing and abstracting for over 150 scholarly and popular journals, newspapers and newsletters from the United States, Africa and the Caribbean (1902 to the present). 

Kaiser Index to Black Resources, 1948-1986.  5 volumes.  Main Library E185 .K34 1992 : A monumental publication in providing bibliographic access to African-American resources. Indexes resources in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library.

Race Relations Abstracts.  Provides approximately 50,000 bibliographic records with abstracts covering topics such as discrimination, immigration studies, and other areas highly relevant to African American Studies and Ethnic Studies in general.

Recommended Indexes and Databases

Below is an additional list of selected indexes and databases relevant to African American Studies, starting with some general coverage tools and progressing to more subject-specific tools. Use these to find articles and other research on your topic. For a more extensive list of databases (and electronic resources) available in the MSU Libraries, go to the Electronic Resources page.

Expanded Academic ASAP (1980 to date).  Provides coverage of 3,000 indexed and 1,900 full-text titles in a wide variety of disciplines including: social science journals, humanities journals, science and technology journals, national news periodicals, general interest magazines, newswires, The New York Times and many others. More than 1,400 journals are peer reviewed, and more than 20 years of backfile coverage are included.  Check out the browse subject section for all the entries starting with African American!

JSTOR.  Searchable database of the full text of journals covering a wide array of academic topics including anthropology, Asian Studies, ecology, economics, education, finance, history, literature, mathematics, philosophy, political science, population studies, and sociology.  Years available vary with each title, but the most recent issues available in JSTOR will normally be 4-5 years old due to embargoes from publishers.

Periodicals Archive Online (1770-1995) is a database of millions of articles published in the arts, humanities and social sciences, across more than 300 years, by Proquest. Covers more than 3,000 journals.

Project Muse.  This database provides access to two hundred humanities and social science journals from 29 not-for-profit, scholarly publishers.  Years offered by each journal vary but usually are only the most recent issues. Muse is a unique collaboration between the participating publishers and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at the Johns Hopkins University.

Proquest Research Library (indexing: 1971 to date; full-text: 1991 to date).  Provides online access to an extensive collection of published material. You can search for information in thousands of different journals, periodicals, dissertations, newspapers, and magazines. Complete articles -- in full text, page image, or UMI's unique Text+Graphics format -- are available for many of the most popular and important sources. Provides full text coverage of over 400 journals. However, full text coverage varies by date from journal to journal.

Social Sciences Full Text (EBSCOHost) 

Google Scholar, current.  Google has created this database to speed location of reports and journal articles available on the Internet. Google is also working hard on facilitating links to subscription resources offered by university libraries. However not all the links work yet. So if you find an interesting article or resources via this database, be sure to check whether it is available via the MSU Libraries electronic or print collections.

Alt-PressWatch (Proquest) : Full-text database of selected newspapers, magazines and journals of the alternative and independent press. Coverage complements the reporting in the mainstream press. Also listed under Newspapers.

Ethnic NewsWatch (Proquest)An interdisciplinary, bilingual (English and Spanish) and comprehensive full text database of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press. Designed to provide the "other side of the story," ENW titles offer additional viewpoints from those proffered by the mainstream press. Coverage varies by paper, but goes as far back as 1960 for some publications. Also listed under Newspapers.

America History and Life (EBSCO) (1964 to date). Provides access to the citations of articles (and in some cases, the full text of articles), book reviews, and dissertations in American and Canadian history.  Note : Access limited to 6 simultaneous users.  America History and Life is listed near the bottom of the page!

Berg Fashion Library : Provides access to Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion and other Berg titles where one can find some articles about African-American dress and fashion and related topics.

Communication and Mass Media Complete (EBSCO).  Provides indexing and abstracting for more than 600 publications, and includes selected full-text coverage for more than 240 journals in communications, mass media, and related fields. Topics include (among many others) health communication, gender and communication, communication theory, and mass media.

Criminal Justice Abstracts via EBSCO (1968 to date). Contains hundreds of in-depth abstracts of current books, book chapters, journal articles, government reports, and dissertations published worldwide. Also offers extensive coverage of new books from scholarly and commercial publishers and valuable reports from public and private agencies in many nations. For each document, a summary of the finding, methodology, and conclusions is provided.  Topics include crime trends, prevention projects, corrections, juvenile delinquency, police, courts, offenders, victims and sentencing.

LexisNexis Academic. Provides access to full-text news, business, and legal publications, using a variety of flexible search options. One of the most heavily used databases in higher education.

ProQuest Congressional. Provides users with efficient, targeted access to the most comprehensive collection of historic and current  congressional information available anywhere online. This collection includes the full text of  congressional publications (including hearings, reports, and documents), finding aids, a bill tracking service, and the full text of public laws and other research materials to enable both novice and experienced researchers to complete many types of research projects using a single, user-friendly interface. Since Congress is interested in all public policy, social, and economic issues, the database is an effective source for general research in many academic disciplines, in addition to research related to specific legislative proposals and laws. Note: not everything identified in this database is available full-text; however with the citation we can track down the items for you.

Statistical Insight.   Provides users with access to statistical publications of the US government, state governments, international organizations, and professional associations.

PAIS (ProQuest) (1915 to date).   Indexes selected books, government documents, and periodical articles on contemporary public issues and the making of public policy.  Note: try African Americans, Blacks, events, etc.

Political Science Complete (EBSCO).  Provides full text for over 500 publications, and cover-to-cover indexing and abstracts for more than 1995 journals. The database also features more than 189 full-text reference books and monographs, and over 27,000 full text conference papers, including those of the International Political Science Association.

PsycInfo / PsycArticles  (ProQuest) (1887 to date).  Contains summaries of the world's journal literature, of dissertations and technical reports, and of English-language chapters and books in psychology and related disciplines. Covers over 1300 journals in over 30 languages from approximately 50 countries. No full text content within PsycInfo, but there are links to full text in other databases, including PsycARTICLES. Also includes psychology articles from related disciplines such as sociology, linguistics, education, medicine, law, physiology, business, psychiatry, and anthropology.

Race Relations Abstracts (EBSCO).  Includes bibliographic records covering essential areas related to race relations, including ethnic studies, discrimination, immigration studies, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline. The index contains more than 46,000 records, which are carefully selected from the most important sources within the discipline.

Sociological Abstracts (Proquest) (1952 to date).   Provides access to the latest research in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences.  Includes citations (and abstracts since 1974) for articles in over 1,500 journals. Draws information from an international selection of journals, serials, conference papers, books, and dissertations.  Note: try African Americans, Black Americans, etc.

Web of Science. Indexes science, social sciences, and arts and humanities information from nearly 9,300 of the most prestigious, high impact research journals in the world. Note: you can restrict your search to the Science Citation Citation Index (1900 to date) , the Social Sciences Citation Index (1956 to date), or the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (1975 to date).

Subject Guide

Erik Ponder's picture
Erik Ponder
African Studies Librarian
MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Dr. (E 224B)
East Lansing, MI 48824

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