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African American Studies Research Guides Offer a Gateway to Primary and Secondary Sources

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This is a guest post by Darren Jones, a research specialist in the Library’s Researcher and Reference Services Division.

African American History Month is approaching fast. If you are a teacher looking for resources related to African American studies that you can use in the classroom, or a student working on an African American history research paper, where do you start?

In the Perfect Eat Shop, a restaurant on 47th Street near South Park, owned by Mr. E. Norris (Negro). Chicago, Illinois, Photo by Jack Delano, 1942.

You might begin by looking at some research guides created by the Library of Congress on African American studies. You can review guides on more than 50 black history topics, from amendments to the U.S. Constitution to Brown v. the Board of Education to the Great Migration, and many more. These form part of a larger collection of more than 750 guides created and maintained by Library staff on a diverse range of subjects.

The research guides direct users to analog and digital materials available through the Library and elsewhere. These include resources from the Library of Congress’s general collections of books and periodicals, as well as specialized collections prepared by reference specialists. Many of the books and periodicals highlighted in the guides can be accessed through local public and school libraries. Among the digital resources available through the guides are primary source items digitized from the Library’s physical collections.

Abraham Lincoln papers: Series 3. General Correspondence. 1837-1897: Congress, Wednesday, February 01, 1865 (Joint Resolution Submitting 13th Amendment to the States; signed by Abraham Lincoln and Congress

One example is the Library’s research guide on the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which declares, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Formally abolishing slavery in the United States, the 13th Amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the states on December 6, 1865. The guide to this amendment includes print and digital resources available through the Library, as well as links to external web sites that provide additional information related to the amendment.

Another example is the Library’s research guide on the Great Migration. From about 1915-1970, millions of African Americans moved from southern, primarily rural areas of the U.S. to urban areas in the north and west. This guide provides strategies for finding related visual resources. It also includes selected collections from various Library of Congress reading rooms and research centers.

We invite you to browse and explore the rest of the Library’s of African American studies research guides. Used in conjunction with the recently launched research guide for middle and high school students, they offer essential starting points for locating classroom resources related to African American history and culture.


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