This is a guide to African American theater-related materials in the Greenfield Library at The University of the Arts. If you have questions about this topic please contact Sara MacDonald, Public Services Librarian, at

If you're interested in this topic, you should also consult the more general Theater Research subject guide.

Reference Materials

The first place to look when beginning research on a topic is in reference material: specialized dictionaries, encyclopedias or handbooks. These allow you to check names, dates and places, find additional information, look up unknown terms, and check for the proper spelling of words. They are particularly helpful for finding basic background information on a topic, and are often the only place many students may need to look to find answers to their questions. They may include bibliographies (lists of additional materials on a topic, usually considered by the author to be the best materials on that topic) that you can use to find other materials.

Call numbers are for the Greenfield Library unless otherwise indicated.

African American Dramatists: An A to Z Guide / edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004.
REF 812.02573 Af83n

Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. Editors, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Henry Louis Gates. New York: Basic Civitas Books, c1999.
REF 909.0496003 Af83af 1999

Contemporary African American Female Playwrights: An Annotated Bibliography / Dana A. Williams. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.
REF 812.016 W671c

Contemporary Black American Playwrights and Their Plays: A Biographical Directory and Dramatic Index / Bernard L. Peterson, Jr. ; foreword by James V. Hatch. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.
REF 812.002573 P442c

Early Black American Playwrights and Dramatic Writers: A Biographical Directory and Catalog of Plays, Films, and Broadcasting Scripts / Bernard L. Peterson, Jr. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990.
REF 812.002573 P442e

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History: The Black Experience in the Americas. Colin A. Palmer, editor in chief. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, c2006.
REF 973.0496073 En192 2006 v. 1-6.

Sampson, Henry T. The Ghost Walks: A Chronological History of Blacks in Show Business, 1865-1910. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1988.
REF 792.08996 Sa48g

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre & Performance / edited by Dennis Kennedy. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003..
REF 792.03 Ox2k
Also available as a UArts Libraries e-subscription on the Research Tools and Resources page.

Profiles of African American Stage Performers and Theatre People, 1816-1960 / Bernard L. Peterson, Jr. ; foreword by James V. Hatch. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, c2001.
REF 791.08996073 P442p 1816-1960

Periodical Indexes: Finding Magazine Articles

Periodical indexes are research tools that allow you to search for articles in journals and magazines. ALWAYS use magazines and journals to find the most up-to-date information on your topic.

On the Web:
Go to the library's Research Tools and Resources page for a list of the UArts Libraries' subscription databases, indexes, and reference works. You can select "View Databases by Type" or "View Databases by Subject" to see which is best for your topic, or you can always ask a librarian which ones to try. Try IIPA: International Index to the Performing Arts, LexisNexis Academic, and OneSearch. Please see a librarian if you'd like help using these indexes.

Style Manuals: Citing Your Sources

When you find information on a topic, no matter what format it takes (book, journal, Web page), there are style manuals to show you the correct way to give cite those sources in a paper.

Web Sites

Searching the Web can be overwhelming. If you are using the Internet for research you want to choose sites that meet the standards of accuracy, currency and authority.

American Memory from the Library of Congress: African American History
Note slave narrative audio files.

New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
See also Digital Schomburg and Online Exhibitions.

JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.
JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.