African-American history/Bibliography

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A list of key readings about African-American history.
Please sort and annotate in a user-friendly manner. For formatting, consider using automated reference wikification.


  • Earle, Jonathan, and Malcolm Swanston. The Routledge Atlas of African American History (2000) excerpt and text search
  • Finkelman, Paul, ed. Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass (3 vol 2006)
  • Franklin, John Hope, and Alfred Moss, From Slavery to Freedom. A History of African Americans, (2001), standard textbook; first edition in 1947 excerpt and text search
  • Litwack, Leon, and August Meier. Black Leaders of the 19th Century. (1988)
    • Franklin, John Hope, and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century. (1982), short biographies by scholars.
  • Harris, William H. The Harder We Run: Black Workers Since the Civil War. (1982). online edition
  • Hine, Darlene Clark, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn and Elsa Barkley Brown, eds. Black Women in America - An Historical Encyclopedia, (2005) excerpt and text search
  • Hine, Darlene Clark, et al. The African-American Odyssey (2 vol, 4th ed. 2007) textbook excerpt and text search vol 1
  • Holt, Thomas C. ed. Major Problems in African-American History: From Freedom to "Freedom Now," 1865-1990s (2000) reader in primary and secondary sources
  • Kelley, Robin D. G., and Earl Lewis, eds. To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans. (2000). 672pp; 10 long essays by leading scholars online edition
  • Lowery, Charles D. and John F. Marszalek, eds. Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Present (1992) online edition
  • Mandle, Jay R. Not Slave, Not Free: The African American Economic Experience since the Civil War (1992) online edition
  • Painter, Nell Irvin. Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present. (2006), 480 pp survey
  • Palmer, Colin A. ed. Encyclopedia Of African American Culture And History: The Black Experience In The Americas (6 vol. 2005)
  • Salzman, Jack, David Lionel Smith, and Cornel West, eds. Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. (5 vol. 1996).
  • Smallwood, Arwin D The Atlas of African-American History and Politics: From the Slave Trade to Modern Times (1997)

Slave era pre 1860

see also Slavery, U.S.

  • Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (2000) ACLS E-book
  • Blassingame, John W. The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South (2nd ed. 1979) excerpt and text search
  • Genovese, Eugene. Roll Jordan Roll: The World the Slaves Made (1974), highly influential study of slavery excerpt and text search
  • Gomez, Michael. Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (1998) 384pp excerpt and text search
  • Horton, James Oliver. In hope of liberty: culture, community, and protest among northern free Blacks, 1700-1860 (1998) ACLS E-book
  • Kolchin, Peter. American Slavery, 1619-1877 (wnd ed. 2003), a short survey excerpt and text search
  • Kulikoff, Allan. Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680 - 1800 (1986)
  • Miller, Randall M., and John David Smith, eds. Dictionary of Afro-Amerian Slavery (1988)
  • Rothman, Adam. Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South. (2005). 282 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Sobel, Mechal. The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteenth-Century Virginia (1987).
  • White, Deborah Gray. Ar'n't I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South, (2nd ed. 1999) excerpt and text search
  • Wood, Peter H. Black majority: Negroes in colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion (1975) ACLS E-book

Emancipation and Reconstruction Era: 1860-1890

see the longer Bibliography at Reconstruction

  • Boles, John B. Black Southerners, 1619–1869. (1983)
  • Butchart, Ronald E. Northern Schools, Southern Blacks, and Reconstruction: Freedmen's Education, 1862-1875 (1980) onlineedition
  • Cimbala, Paul A. and Trefousse, Hans L. (eds.) The Freedmen's Bureau: Reconstructing the American South After the Civil War. 2005.
  • Click, Patricia C. Time Full of Trial: The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, 1862-1867 (2001) online edition
  • Crouch, Barry. The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Texans (1992)
  • Du Bois, W. E. Burghardt. "The Freedmen's Bureau" (1901)] by leading black scholar online edition
  • Du Bois, W. E. Burghardt. Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 (1935)
  • Durrill, Wayne K. "Political Legitimacy and Local Courts: 'Politicks at Such a Rage' in a Southern Community during Reconstruction" in Journal of Southern History, Vol. 70 #3, 2004 pp 577-617 online edition
  • Foner Eric. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (1988), the standard history of Reconstruction.
  • Gutman, Herbert G. The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925 (1977)
  • Hahn, Steven. A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (2003), 1865-1950 ACLS E-book
  • Jones, Jacqueline. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present (1985)
  • Kolchin, Peter. First Freedom: The Responses of Alabama's Blacks to Emancipation and Reconstruction 1972.
  • Litwack, Leon F. Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery. 1979,
  • Oubre, Claude F. Forty Acres and a Mule: The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Land Ownership 1978.
  • Quarles, Benjamin. The Negro in the Civil War'. (1953) by leading African American historian
  • Richardson, Joe M. Christian Reconstruction: The American Missionary Association and Southern Blacks, 1861-1890 (1986).
  • Howard N. Rabinowitz, Race Relations in the Urban South, 1865-1890 (1978)
  • Span, Christopher M. "'I Must Learn Now or Not at All': Social and Cultural Capital in the Educational Initiatives of Formerly Enslaved African Americans in Mississippi, 1862-1869," The Journal of African American History, 2002 pp 196-222 online edition
  • Ransom, Roger L. Conflict and Compromise. (1989), econometric history
  • Oubre, Claude F. Forty Acres and a Mule. (1978).
  • Rodrigue, John C. "Labor Militancy and Black Grassroots Political Mobilization in the Louisiana Sugar Region, 1865-1868" in Journal of Southern History, Vol. 67 #1, 2001 pp 115-45; online edition also in JSTOR
  • Schwalm, Leslie A. "'Sweet Dreams of Freedom': Freedwomen's Reconstruction of Life and Labor in Lowcountry South Carolina," Journal of Women's History, Vol. 9 #1, 1997 pp 9-32 online edition
  • Williamson, Joel. After Slavery: The Negro in South Carolina during Reconstruction, 1861-1877 1965.

Jim Crow Era: 1877-1954

see also Jim Crow

  • Anderson, James D. The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935 (1988) online edition
  • Bayor, Ronald H. Race and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Atlanta (1996)
  • Bond, Horace Mann. “The Extent and Character of Separate Schools in the United States.” Journal of Negro Education 4(July 1935):321–27. in JSTOR
  • Brundage, W. Fitzhugh, ed Booker T. Washington and Black Progress: Up from Slavery 100 Years Later (2003)
  • Bullock, Henry Allen. A History of Negro Education in the South: From 1619 to the Present (1967) ACLS E-book
  • Cartwright, Joseph H. The Triumph of Jim Crow: Tennessee Race Relations in the 1880s (1976)
  • Dailey, Jane, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, and Bryant Simon, eds. Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights (2000), essays by scholars on impact of Jim Crow on black communities online edition
  • Gaines, Kevin. Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the Twentieth Century (1996). online edition
  • Gatewood, Jr., Willard B. Aristocrats of Color: The Black Elite, 1880-1920 (2000)
  • Gilmore, Glenda Elizabeth. Gender and Jim Crow Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920 (1996) online edition; also excerpt and text search
  • Gosnell, Harold F. Negro politicians: the rise of Negro politics in Chicago, (1935, 1967) ACLS E-book
  • Hahn, Steven. A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (2003), 1865-1950 ACLS E-book; also excerpt and text search
  • Jones, Jacqueline. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present (1985)
  • Harlan. Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1900 (1972) the standard biography, vol 1
  • Harlan. Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee 1901-1915 (1983), the standard scholarly biography vol 2 online edition vol 2
  • Harlan. Louis R. Booker T. Washington in Perspective: Essays of Louis R. Harlan (1988) online edition
  • Harlan. Louis R. "The Secret Life of Booker T. Washington." Journal of Southern History 37#3 (1971). pp 393-416 Documents Booker T. Washington's secret financing and directing of litigation against segregation and disfranchisement. in JSTOR
  • McMurry, Linda O. George Washington Carver, Scientist and Symbol (1982) online edition
  • Jones, Jacqueline. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present (1985) excerpt and text search
  • Lemann, Nicholas. The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America (1992) excerpt and text search
  • Lewis, David Levering. W. E. B. DuBois, 1868-1919: Biography of a Race (2 vol 1993, 2000). excerpt and text search vol 1, winner of Pulitzer Prize; W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century 1919-1963 (2000) excerpt and text search vol 2
  • Litwack, Leon F. Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow (1998) excerpt and text search
  • Logan, Rayford. The Betrayal of the Negro: From Rutherford B. Hayes to Woodrow Wilson (Originally Published as: The Negro in American Life and Thought: The Nadir: 1877-1901) (1970) excerpt and text search
  • McMillen, Neil R. Dark Journey: Black Mississippians in the Age of Jim Crow. (1989). excerpt and text search
  • Meier, August. Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington (1963),
  • Meier, August. "Toward a Reinterpretation of Booker T. Washington." 23 Journal of Southern History 22#2 (1957) in JSTOR
  • Myrdal, Gunnar. An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944). Highly influential and detailed analysis of the Jim Crow system in operation. excerpt and text search
  • Sterner, Richard. The Negro's share: a study of income, consumption, housing, and public assistance (1943), statistical analysis of 1930s ACLS E-book
  • Walker, Juliet E. K. Encyclopedia of African American Business History (1999) online edition
  • Woodward, C. Vann. The Strange Career of Jim Crow (3d ed., 1974), in ACLS E-books
  • Woodward, C. Vann. Origins of the New South, 1877-1913 (1951) ACLS E-book
  • Wintz, Cary D. African American Political Thought, 1890-1930: Washington, Du Bois, Garvey, and Randolph (1996) online edition

Civil Rights Era: 1954 - present

  • Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 (1989) excerpt and text search; Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 (1999) excerpt and text search; At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 (2007)
  • Carson, Clayborne. In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (1981)
  • Cashman, Sean Dennis. African-Americans and the Quest for Civil Rights, 1900-1990 (1991)
  • Collier-Thomas, Bettye, and V.P. Franklin. Sisters in the Struggle : African-American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Eagles, Charles, ed. The Civil Rights Movement in America (1986), 200pp; 12 short essays by scholars and text search
  • Farley, Reynolds, and William H. Frey. "The Segregation of Whites from Blacks During the 1980s: Small Steps Toward a More Integrated Society," American Sociological Review, Vol. 59, No. 1 (Feb., 1994), pp. 23-45 heavily statistical; in JSTOR
  • Fredrickson, George M. Black Liberation: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United States and South Africa (2nd ed. 1996)excerpt and text search
  • Garrow, David. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., And The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1989) excerpt and text search
  • Goldman, Peter. The Death and Life of Malcolm X, (2nd ed. 1979)
  • Graham, Hugh Davis. The Civil Rights Era: Origins and Development of National Policy, 1960-1972 (1990)
  • Harris, Fredrick C. "Something Within: Religion as a Mobilizer of African-American Political Activism," The Journal of Politics, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Feb., 1994), pp. 42-68 in JSTOR
  • Horne, Gerald. '"'Myth' and the Making of 'Malcolm X'", The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 2 (Apr., 1993), pp. 440-450 in JSTOR
  • Kluger, Richard. Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality, (1975) excerpt and text search
  • Ling, Peter J. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2002) excerpt and text search
  • Meier, August, and Elliot Rudwick. CORE (1975).
  • Sitkoff, Harvard. The Struggle for Black Equality (1981).
  • Walton, Hanes, and Robert C. Smith. American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom (3rd ed 2005) excerpt and text search
  • Williams, Juan, and Julian Bond. Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 (1988) excerpt and text search
  • Wolters, Raymond. The Burden of Brown: Thirty Years of Desegregation (1984) excerpt and text search

Historiography and teaching

  • Arnesen, Eric. "Up From Exclusion: Black and White Workers, Race, and the State of Labor History," Reviews in American History 26#1 March 1998, pp. 146-174 in Project Muse
  • Dagbovie, Pero. The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Dagbovie, Pero Gaglo. "Exploring a Century of Historical Scholarship on Booker T. Washington." Journal of African American History 2007 92(2): 239-264. Issn: 1548-1867 Fulltext: Ebsco
  • Dorsey, Allison. "Black History Is American History: Teaching African American History in the Twenty-first Century." Journal of American History 2007 93(4): 1171-1177. Issn: 0021-8723 Fulltext: History Cooperative
  • Ernest, John. "Liberation Historiography: African-American Historians before the Civil War," American Literary History 14#3, Fall 2002, pp. 413-443 in Project Muse
  • Eyerman, Ron. Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity (2002) argues that slavery emerged as a central element of the collective identity of African Americans in the post-Reconstruction era.
  • Fields, Barbara J. "Ideology and Race in American History," in J. Morgan Kousser and James M. McPherson , eds., Region, Race, and Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of C. Vann Woodward (1982),
  • Franklin, John Hope. "Afro-American History: State of the Art," Journal of American History (June 1988): 163-173. in JSTOR
  • Goggin, Jacqueline. Carter G. Woodson: A Life in Black History (1993)
  • Hall, Stephen Gilroy. "'To Give a Faithful Account of the Race': History and Historical Consciousness in the African-American Community, 1827-1915." PhD dissertation, Ohio State U. 1999. 470 pp. DAI 2000 60(8): 3084-A. DA9941339 Fulltext: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
  • Harris, Robert L., "Coming of Age: The Transformation of Afro-American Historiography," Journal of Negro History 57 (1982): 107-121. in JSTOR
  • Harris, Robert L., Jr. "The Flowering of Afro-American History." American Historical Review 1987 92(5): 1150-1161. Issn: 0002-8762 in Jstor
  • Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks, "African-American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 17 (1992): 251-274.
  • Hine, Darlene Clark, ed. Afro-American History: Past, Present, and Future. (1986).
  • Hine, Darlene Clark. Hine Sight: Black Women and the Re-Construction of American History (1994) excerpt and text search
  • Hornsby Jr., Alton, et al. eds. A Companion to African American History. (2005). 580 pp. 31 long essays by experts covering African and diasporic connections in the context of the transatlantic slave trade; colonial and antebellum African, European, and indigenous relations; processes of cultural exchange; war and emancipation; post-emancipation community and institution building; intersections of class and gender; migration; and struggles for civil rights. ISBN 0-631-23066-1
  • McMillen, Neil R. "Up from Jim Crow: Black History Enters the Profession's Mainstream." Reviews in American History 1987 15(4): 543-549. Issn: 0048-7511 in Jstor
  • Meier, August, and Elliott Rudwick. Black History and the Historical Profession, 1915-1980 (1986)
  • Nelson, Hasker. Listening For Our Past: A Lay Guide To African American Oral History Interviewing (2000) excerpt and text search
  • Quarles, Benjamin. Black Mosaic: Essays in Afro-American History and Historiography (1988).
  • Rabinowitz, Howard N. "More Than the Woodward Thesis: Assessing The Strange Career of Jim Crow", Journal of American History 75 (Dec. 1988): 842-56. in JSTOR
  • Reidy, Joseph P. "Slave Emancipation Through the Prism of Archives Records" (1997) online
  • Roper, John Herbert. U. B. Phillips: A Southern Mind (1984), on the white historian of slavery
  • Trotter, Joe W. "African-American History: Origins, Development, and Current State of the Field," OAH Magazine of History 7#4 Summer 1993 online edition
  • Wright, William D. Black History and Black Identity: A Call for a New Historiography (2002), proposes new racial and ethnic terminology and classifications for the study of black people and history. excerpt and text search

Primary Sources

  • Aptheker, Herbert, ed. A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States. (7 vol 1951-1994)
  • Berlin, Ira, ed. Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War (1995)
  • Bracey, John H., and Manisha Sinha, eds. African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the Slave Trade to the Twenty-First Century, (2 vol 2004)
  • Chafe, William Henry, Raymond Gavins, and Robert Korstad, eds. Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South (2003) excerpt and text search
  • Finkenbine, Roy E. Sources of the African-American Past: Primary Sources in American History (2nd Edition) (2003)
  • Hampton, Henry, and Steve Fayer, eds. Voices of Freedom (1990), oral histories of civil rights movement
  • King, Martin Luther. I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World, (1992) excerpt and text search
  • King, Martin Luther. Why We Can't Wait (1963; 2000)
  • King, Martin Luther. The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Volume VI: Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948-March 1963 (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Levy, Peter B. Let Freedom Ring: A Documentary History of the Modern Civil Rights Movement (1992) online edition
  • Rawick, George P. ed. The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography (19 vols., (1972) oral histories with ex-slaves conducted in 1930s by WPA
  • Sernett, Milton C. African American Religious History: A Documentary Witness (1999) excerpt and text search
  • Wright, Kai, ed. The African-American Archive: The History of the Black Experience Through Documents (2001)