African American History: Teacher Resources and Primary Sources

The composing room of the Richmond Planet, an African American owned newspaper, possibly around 1899

The rich primary source collections of the Library of Congress offer students countless opportunities to explore key figures and landmark moments of African American history, as well as providing windows into day-to-day life in African American communities across the centuries. In addition, the Library’s suite of teaching tools provides teachers with ideas and activities for bringing these primary sources to life in their classrooms.

Teaching with the Library of Congress features more than 90 entries on African American history and culture and spotlights photos, recordings, maps, and other primary sources from the Library’s collections. In the past year, Teaching with the Library of Congress has taken a look at civil rights pioneer Barbara Pope, the Tulsa Race Massacre, portraits of freed people, and reflections on Black History Month by Jason Reynolds, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

The Library’s portal for educators provides hundreds of classroom-ready teacher resources, including primary source sets on Jim Crow and Segregation, the Harlem Renaissance, Civil War images of African Americans in the war effort, and more topics.

The online collections of the Library of Congress offer a wealth of historical documents and artifacts and include more than 20 collections focused on African American history, from the papers of Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks to transcripts and recordings of people who survived slavery to rich photographs of African American life in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Library’s research guides also provide secondary information and select primary sources on more than 50 black history topics.

To explore some of the best teacher resources from cultural and historical institutions, including the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and more, visit the African American History Month portal.

Please share any discoveries your students make in the comments!