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 PS338.N4 A69 2004

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

Contemporary African American Female Playwrights: An Annotated Bibliography / Dana A. Williams. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.
REF Z1229.N39 W55 1998

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 PS153.N5 P43 1988

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 PS153.N5 P44 1990

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.

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 Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre & Performance / edited by Dennis Kennedy. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003..
REF PN2035 .O94 2003 v.1 A-L
REF PN2035 .O94 2003 v.2 M-Z

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 PN2286 .P46 2001

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, Nexis Uni, 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.

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

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