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

If you're interested in African American history you may also want to see our subject guide on African American Theater.

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.

Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. Editors, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Henry Louis Gates. New York: Basic Civitas Books, c1999.
REF DT14 .A37435 1999

Igoe, Lynn Moody, with James Igoe. 250 years of Afro-American Art: An Annotated Bibliography. Bowker, 1981.
REF Z5956.A47 I38

Davis, Lenwood G., and Janet L. Sims. Black Artists in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography of Books, Articles, and Dissertations on Black Artists, 1779-1979. Greenwood Press, 1980.
REF Z5956.A47 D38

Hornsby, Alton. Chronology of African-American History: Significant Events and People from 1619 to the Present. Gale Research, 1991.
REF E185 .H64 1991

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 E185 .E54 2006 v.1-6

Encyclopedia of African-American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass. Paul Finkelman, editor in chief. Oxford University Press, 2009.
Available Online

Encyclopedia of African-American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-First Century. Paul Finkelman, editor in chief. Oxford University Press, 2009.
Available Online

Sampson, Henry T. The Ghost Walks: A Chronological History of Blacks in Show Business, 1865-1910. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1988.
REF PN2270.A35 S25 1988

The Harlem Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary for the Era. Edited by Bruce Kellner. Greenwood Press, 1984.
REF NX511.N4 H37 1984

Images of Blacks in American Culture: A Reference Guide to Information Sources. Edited by Jessie Carney Smith; foreword by Nikki Giovanni. NY: Greenwood Press, 1988.
REF NX652.A37 I43 1988

The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. Foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Oxford University Press, 1997.
REF PS153.N5 O96 1997

Statistical Record of Black America. Compiled and edited by Carrell Peterson Horton and Jessie Carney Smith. Gale Research, 1990.
REF E185.5 .S7 1990

Periodical Indexes: Finding Articles

Periodical indexes are research tools that allow you to search for articles in magazines, journals and newspapers.

Go to the library's Article Databases and Indexes page for a list of the UArts Libraries' subscription databases. Not sure which one to try? Give us a call (215-717-6280) or contact Sara MacDonald, UArts Public Services Librarian.

I've found articles I want to read. Now what?
There are different ways to find an article once you retrieve a citation in the index:

  • See if there is a link in the index you're using to a full-text article online and download it or e-mail it to yourself.
  • Click the FindIt@UArts icon to see if our library holds the journal title. FindIt@UArts will also tell you if the full-text article is available in a different database.
  • Use the interlibrary loan search tool, WorldCat, to request materials not owned by the UArts Libraries or to see what other libraries have the title you need.

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. Be sure to look at them with a critical eye.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia
Located at 701 Arch Street, Philadelphia. Admission is $8 for students with student ID.

Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1985
An important and thorough documentary. Many primary sources, including video clips. The Greenfield Library has this on DVD.

National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC

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

Black History in Pennsylvania"

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