Black History: Topical (2024)


  • Slavery
  • Abolition and Emancipation
  • Reconstruction
  • Segregation and Black Migration
  • Civil Rights


NARA Resources

"From Slave Women to Free Women: The National Archives and Black Women's History in the Civil War Era"
This article from NARA's publication, Prologue, was written by Noralee Frankel and appeared in the Summer 1997 edition.
"Garrison's Constitution: The Covenant with Death and How It Was Made"
In his Prologue article, Paul Finkelman discusses the debates in the Constitutional Convention that touched on slavery in America.
"'Incited by the Love of Liberty:' The Amistad Captives and the Federal Courts"
Bruce A. Ragsdale's Prologue article describes how enslaved Africans who rebelled aboard a Spanish ship pursued their quest for freedom within the U.S. Federal court system.
Let My People Go
This section of the online exhibit The National Archives Documented Rights deals with the issue of slavery.
"Living with Hydra: The Documentation of Slavery and the Slave Trade in Federal Records"
Walter B. Hill's survey of federal records appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of Prologue.
Records That Pertain to American Slavery and the International Slave Trade
This page contains information found in the records of the National Archives and Records Administration. It identifies the record group and series, with brief descriptions and locations.
The Slave Trade
A Teaching with Documents lesson plan.
"Slavery and Emancipation in the Nation's Capital: Using Federal Records to Explore the Lives of African American Ancestors"
This Prologue article was written by Damani Davis.
Teaching with Documents: The Amistad Case
NARA offers an insider look into a trial that changed legislative history. This site includes a lesson plan for teachers.
"Voices of Emancipation: Union Pension Files Giving Voice to Former Slaves"
This Prologue article by Donald R. Shaffer and Elizabeth Regosin shows how Civil War pension applications provide clues about veterans' lives in bondage.

Other Resources

Africans in America
Based on a PBS series, this site covers 1450-1865, from the beginning of slave migration across the Atlantic to the abolition movement. Each section includes narratives, a resource bank of people, events, historical documents, interviews with historians, and a teacher's guide.
Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719-1820
Database of information on 100,000 slaves brought to Louisiana during the 18th and 19th centuries.
American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology
From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South, most born in the last years of the slave regime or during the Civil War, were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration.
The Amistad Research Center
This Tulane University Research Center contains over ten million items documenting African American history and race relations.
The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record
An excellent resource for images, this site includes maps of Africa, the New World, and slave trade routes along with photographs and paintings covering the Atlantic Crossing through Emancipation.
Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938
This Library of Congress site presents digitized transcripts from interviews of former slaves. The interviews were conducted by the Federal Writers Project between 1936 and 1938.
Freedom Suits Case Files, 1814-1860
These suits, heard in the Saint Louis Circuit Court, "were brought by or on behalf of persons of color held in slavery within the St. Louis area from 1814 to 1860." The records are now housed in the Circuit Court's Record Center.
Freedom's Journal
The State Historical Society of Wisconsin has made available in digital format all 103 issues of the first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States (1827-1829).
The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition
Located at Yale University, the Gilder Lehrman Center is "dedicated to the investigation and dissemination of information concerning all aspects of chattel slavery and its destruction."
North American Slave Narratives
Part of the University of North Carolina's "Documenting the American South" series, this site "collects books and articles that document the individual and collective story of African Americans struggling for freedom and human rights in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries."
The Revised Dred Scott Case Collection
Washington University in St. Louis's site presents in digital format a remarkable collection of documents involving one of the most significant episodes in antebellum U.S. history, the Dred Scott Case.
Rhetoric of Freedom: Lincoln, Emerson, Douglass
Noting that the Atlantic was a "proponent of abolition and a mouthpiece for the rhetoric of freedom" since its beginning in 1857, the editors have now provided online complete texts of articles by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frederick Douglas, to complement Garry Will's article on Lincoln, thereby providing the text of three of the most effective prose writers of their time, and of the abolition movement.
Slave Movement During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
This University of Wisconsin site provides access to raw data on slave trade topics.
Slavery Era Insurance Registry
The California Department of Insurance has identified insurance companies that issued policies to slaveholders to insure against "damage to or death of their slaves." This site links to the Insurance Department reports, insured slaves' names, and slaveholders' names.
Slavery - The Peculiar Institution
Part of the Library of Congress's African American Odyssey pages, this site looks at slavery through paintings and original documents.
Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860
This Library of Congress site contains over 100 pamphlets and books concerning legal issues relating to African American slaves.
Statutes of the United States concerning Slavery
From the Avalon Project at Yale Law School.
Up from Slavery: An Autobiography of Booker T. Washington
The founder of the Tuskegee Institute's autobiography is available online.

Abolition and Emancipation

NARA Resources

Benjamin Franklin Petitions Congress
In his later years Benjamin Franklin became vocal as an abolitionist. The Center for Legislative Archives describes the petition to Congress from the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery, signed by Benjamin Franklin, the President of the Society.
The District of Columbia Emancipation Act
This page from Featured Documents describes the District of Columbia Emancipation Act and provides digitized copies of the first and last pages of the document, as well as a transcription.
The Emancipation Proclamation
This Featured Documents page discusses the Emancipation Proclamation and includes digitized copies of the document, a transcript, and the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863
A digitized copy of the Emancipation Proclamation from NARA's Documented Rights exhibit.
The Emancipation Proclamation: An Act of Justice
An article by John Hope Franklin which appeared in the Summer 1993 issue of Prologue.
"Slave Emancipation through the Prism of Archives Records"
This article, written by Joseph P. Reidy, appeared in the Summer 1997 Prologue, a NARA publication.

Other Resources

Abolition & Slavery
This Library of Congress site features Charles Sumner's 1863 speech, "The Barbarism of Slavery".
Conflict of Abolition and Slavery
This Library of Congress site illustrates the conflict between abolition and slavery through the use of maps and other documents.
Fredrick Douglass Papers
This Library of Congress site presents the papers of Frederick Douglass, black abolitionist and orator. It also offers a timeline of Douglass's life, a Douglass family tree, and links to the online texts of all three of Douglass's autobiographies.
Influence of Prominent Abolitionists
This site from the Library of Congress describes the influence of the abolitionist movement by describing the Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia (1833) and publications such as Frederick Douglass's North Star.


NARA Resources

Citations to Record Group 105, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands
This is a list of articles based on research into the records RG105.
Freedman's Bureau Preservation Project
Reginald Washington's Prologue article on NARA's preservation of post-Civil War era records documenting the federal government's assistance to newly freed slaves.
Freedman's Bureau Records
This article by NARA's Elaine C. Everly was published in the Summer 1997, volume 29, number 2 issue of Prologue.
The Freedman's Savings and Trust Company and African American Genealogical Research
This article, by NARA staff member Reginald Washington, appeared in the Summer 1997 issue of Prologue.
Marriage Registers of Freedman
Elaine Everly, NARA Staff member, wrote this article on Freedman's marriage registers, an invaluable source of family history, for the Fall 1973 issue of Prologue.
Rost Home Colony, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana
This article about the Freedmen's Bureau "home colonies" or agriculture collectives, appeared in the Fall 2001 issue of Prologue.

Other Sites

The Awakening of the Negro
This essay, written by Booker T. Washington, was originally published in the September 1896 issue of The Atlantic Monthly.
Darkness and Light: The Interwar Years, 1865-1898
This chapter from the Army Historical Series features information on the reconstruction years.
Freedman and Southern Society Project
Digital documents transcribed from slave narratives and interpretive essays make up this useful and informative site presented by the University of Maryland.
Freedman's Bureau Online
A collection of online records relating to the Freedman's Bureau.
Freedmen's Bureau Preservation Act: Are These Reconstruction Era Records Being Protected?
This hearing before the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology includes testimonies by NARA's African-American Genealogy Subject Area Specialist Reginald Washington and Dr. Michael J. Kurtz, Assistant Archivist of the United States for Records Services.
This article was written by Frederick Douglass and published in The Atlantic Monthly.
Toward Racial Equality: Black America , 1857-1874
Harper's Weekly provides a Reconstruction timeline, illustrating events occurring in this period.

Segregation and Black Migration

NARA Resources

Black Domestics During the Depression: Workers, Organizers and Social Commentators
This article, written by Phyllis Palmer, focuses on black workers in domestic workplaces. It was published in the Summer 1997 issue of Prologue Quarterly.
Documents Related to Brown v. Board of Education
A Teaching with Documents lesson plan.
Desegregation of the Armed Services
Archival materials at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.

Other Sites

The blood red record: a review of the horrible lynching and burning of Negroes by civilized white men in the United States, as taken from the records
This full-text 27-page book, written by John Edward Bruce and published in 1901, has been mounted on the web as part of the Library of Congress's "American Memory Project."
Chicago: Destination for the Great Migration
This Library of Congress web site describes black migration to the Chicago area.
Fatal Flood
The Public Broadcasting Service produced this documentary about The Great Flood of 1927 and its devastation in Greenville, Mississippi, which fueled the exodus of black citizens to the North.
North by South: Fly Away: The Great Migration
This web site, created by Kenyon College students under a NEH grant, describes the effects of northern migration on African-American culture. It focuses on the migration of blacks from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago.
The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
A list of resources presented by PBS.
Western Migration and Homesteading
Part of the Library of Congress's web site The African-American Mosaic, this site offers documents related to African American westward migration.

Civil Rights

NARA Resources

African Americans and the American Labor Movement
This article was written by James Gilbert Cassedy and published in the Summer 1997 NARA publication, Prologue.
An Archival Odyssey: The Search for Jackie Robinson
This article by John Vernon was published in the Summer 1997 NARA publication, Prologue.
Civil Rights: Brown vs. Board of Education
Documents from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library dealing with Brown vs. Board of Education, including Complaint against Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, February 26, 1951; Court order, Oliver Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, March 1, 1951; Supreme Court opinion, May 31, 1955; and more.
Documenting the Struggle for Racial Equality in the Decade of the Sixties
This article by Geraldine N. Phillips was published in the Summer 1997 NARA publication, Prologue.
Electronic Records Relating to Civil Rights
NARA's Center for Electronic Records Reference Report describes electronic records held at the Center pertaining to civil rights.
From Sophie's Alley to the White House
This article by Nicholas Natanson was published in the Summer 1997 NARA publication, Prologue.
LBJ Fights the White Backlash: The Racial Politics of the 1964 Presidential Campaign
This article was written by Jeremy D. Mayer and published in the Spring 2001 NARA publication, Prologue.
A Letter from Jackie Robinson: Civil Rights Advocate
On this site is a digital image of a letter from Jackie Robinson to President Eisenhower, May 13, 1958.
Race Relations in the United States and American Cultural and Informational Programs in Ghana, 1957-1966
This article in the Winter 1999 issue of Prologue focuses on the significance of the independence of Ghana, and the reaction of the United States.
School Desegregation and Civil Rights Stories: President Harry S. Truman
Links to educational materials available from the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. Also includes links to additional resources.

Other Sites

African-American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship
This Library of Congress exhibit "explores black America's quest for equality from the early national period through the 20th century."
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
This site provides a range of exhibitions describing the history of the segregation era to the birth of the Civil Rights Movement.
Civil Rights Documentation Project
The Civil Rights Documentation Project provides a civil rights bibliography, oral history transcripts, and a civil rights timeline.
Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights
The Thurgood Marshall Law Library provides access to the historical record of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. All the documents are presented as fully-searchable PDFs.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail
This open letter by Martin Luther King, Jr. was originally written in longhand from his Birmingham jail cell On April 16, 1963, in response to an open letter signed by eight white clergymen of Birmingham. It is also called "The Negro Is Your Brother."
Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute
Stanford University's site features the King Papers Project, the Liberation Curriculum, King Resources, and more.
National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is housed in Memphis, Tennessee at the Lorraine Motel, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The museum hosts a variety of exhibit topics focusing on events in the 1950s and 1960s.
U.S. Department of Justice Investigation of Recent Allegations Regarding the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Published in June 2000, this site includes summaries of allegations, a description of the investigative process, and a summary of the facts related to the assassination.
We Shall Overcome: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
This web site describes historic places of the Civil Rights Movement maintained by the National Park Service
Black History: Topical (2024)


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