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Researching Black History

To learn more about African American history, the San Diego State University Library has many resources providing information in print, ebooks, and media. Go to the library website at https://library.sdsu.edu . Enter keywords about what you want in OneSearch to get an overview of books, articles, media, research guides, and documentaries about your interests.

Check out titles by and about our highlighted African Americans at the San Diego State University Library website at library.sdsu.edu. SDSU students, faculty, and staff also have access to the electronic titles through the Library website ebooks collection. Print titles can be retrieved using the Library Domeside Pickup Service https://library.sdsu.edu/domeside-pickup to order your books

Books - Print and Ebooks, E-Books

Books provide overviews of issues and almost always have bibliographies, endnotes, or footnotes that direct you to other information, including scholarly articles.

According to the Library of Congress Subject Headings, the standard search term for African American or Black American is African American.

Sample Headings specific to families and students:

  • African American families
  • African American college students

The following are books with on the subject of African American families. Check for additional titles!

Black History Books in the Children's Collection Books to educate on Black History are available in the Children's Collection.

Streaming Media and Music

If you want to listen to music and or view media, check out the Library Databases' online media sources. https://libguides.sdsu.edu/az.php

Access the databases below using your SDSUid to view documentaries and popular films.

Academic Video Online (AVON) Films from Alexander Street Press (ASP) provide a rich source in documentaries and instructional videos, whether streaming or DVD, include limited public performance rights, which includes permission for classroom showings and public screenings, as long as there is no charge for viewing.

Alexander Street Press Streaming Media and E-Scores This database includes streaming access to music and video collections. For a complete list of collections to which the library subscribes, click on "My Collections."

Examples of media about race relations and social justice:

  • The Talk: Race in America is a two-hour film about "the talk" that parents have with their children of color (primarily boys) to teach them how act around the police to remain safe.
  • America After Charleston The documentary explores race relations issues after a white gunman killed nine African-American worshippers in Charleston, South Carolina, and the removal of the Confederate flag from the state grounds.

Note: To locate other media, enter keywords in the search box.

All films purchased from Alexander Street, whether streaming or DVD, include limited public performance rights, which includes permission for classroom showings, as well as public screenings, as long as no admission is being charged.

Film Platform serves 360+ critically-acclaimed documentaries of social, political and cultural importance

Kanopy is a collection of documentaries and films that have been requested by faculty for class purposes only.

Swank offers streaming feature films and documentaries produced by major Hollywood and independent studios. SDSU has access to 500 "core" titles, plus additional titles licensed by faculty request.

More Streaming Video Options

Activities and Programs

The SDSU Black Resource Center (BRC) also has activities designated to honor and celebrate African Americans. Check out the BRC website at https://sacd.sdsu.edu/black-resource for a list of programs.

Gloria L. Rhodes

Outreach and Diversity Initiatives Librarian

BHM 2021

SDSU Library Databases

There are more than 200 article databases available through the SDSU Library. The following general Academic Search Premier and ProQuest Research Library and the subject related periodical databases below are recommended for your research on African Americans.

Are you looking for articles to read on a specific subject for research, projects, or just for your interest? Check out these database sources that are especially helpful when looking for information by and about African Americans history and culture.

If you want to listen to music and or view media, check out the Library Databases' online media sources. https://libguides.sdsu.edu/az.php

African American Historical Serials Collection More than 170 unique titles related to African American life and culture

African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 Search more than 270 African American newspapers published in the 19th and 20th America's Historical Newspapers

American Race Relations: Global Perspectives, 1940-1996 Reports, publications, and news broadcasts covering America's fight for racial justice, with firsthand analysis of race relations in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Biography (Gale In Context) offers reference content alongside, videos, audio selections, images, primary sources, and magazine and journal articles from hundreds of major periodicals and newspapers.

Biography And Genealogy Master Index contains names, birth/death years, and bibliographic references to books containing material on that person and an indication of which books or articles include a portrait.

Black Studies Center contains The Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, Index to Black Periodicals Full Text, Black Literature Index, and the Chicago Defender historical newspaper from 1912-1975, as well as The HistoryMakers® oral history video resource with extensive interviews with 100 contemporary African Americans, eight other historically black newspapers, Black Abolitionist Papers, and Black Studies Dissertations.

Chicago Defender (1909-1975) ProQuest Historical Newspaper: Chicago Defender, 1909-1975

Civil Rights and Social Justice collection contains 650+ titles from the United States Commission on Civil Rights. If you want to listen to music and or view media, check out the Library Databases' online media sources. https://libguides.sdsu.edu/az.php

CRL Digital Collections digitizes materials from its collections to support research and teaching. New collections include:

  • Access to College and Research Libraries (CRL) Digital Collections, including:
  • African Newspapers
  • American Periodicals
  • Brazilian Government Documents
  • Chinese Pamphlets: Political Communication & Mass Education
  • Dziennik Zwiazkowy
  • Latin American Newspapers
  • LLMC-Digital
  • Official Gazettes & Civil Society Information
  • Pamphlets and Periodicals of the French Revolution of 1848
  • Slavery and Manumission Manuscripts of Timbuktu
  • South Asian Newspapers
  • The Mexican Intelligence Digital Archives (MIDAS)
  • TRAIL – Technical Report Archive & Image Library.

Independent Voices is an open open-access digital collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines and journals, drawn from the special collections of participating libraries and journals. These periodicals were produced by feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Hispanics, LGBT activists, the extreme right-wing press, and alternative literary magazines during the latter half of the 20th century.

Proquest Historical Newspapers Search the full text of three ProQuest Historical Newspapers:

  • The Chicago Defender (1909-1975)
  • The Los Angeles Times (1881-1993)
  • The New York Times (1851-2014)

Race Relations in America (1943-1970) is a collection of documents produced by the American Missionary Association's Race Relations Department between 1943 and 1970 to investigate problem areas in race relations and develop methods for educating communities and preventing conflict.

Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive includes collections on the transatlantic slave trade, the global movement for the abolition of slavery, the legal, personal, and economic aspects of the slavery system, and the dynamics of emancipation in the U.S. as well as in Latin America, the Caribbean, and other regions.

U.S. History (Gale In Context) content includes reference works, millions of news and periodical articles, and more than 5,000 rare and vital primary source documents that range from slave journals to presidential papers.

Best Bets for Multidisciplinary Research

ProQuest Research Library Articles in journals, magazines, trade publications; etc.

Academic Search Premier All subjects. Articles in journals, magazines, newspapers; etc.

Additional Resources

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

Smithsonian- National Museum of African American History & Culture. https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race/topics/being-antiracist

Library of Congress - loc.gov

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Jason Reynolds, National Ambassador for Young People's Literature


Learn more about Jason Reynolds' life, writing, and activities as National Ambassador through this Library of Congress resources and services.