E-Resources for Black History Month

February is Black History Month. The following e-resources available to Harvard students, faculty, and staff will help support research and learning about the contributions of African Americans. Here you have access to quality resources that help you get authoritative information from reference works, find recent articles and news, read historical newspapers and books and essays, and explore African American literature and music.

Reference Works

The Oxford African American Studies Center (Henry Louis Gates, Jr., editor in chief) provides more than 10,000 articles by top scholars in the field. The content includes:

  • Africana
  • Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895
  • Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present
  • Black Women in America
  • African American National Biography
  • Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature
  • Oxford Companion to Black British History
  • More than 300 primary sources
  • Over 1,750 images
  • Maps, charts, and tables

The African American Biographical Database has the biographies of thousands of African Americans. Use the Profile Search to locate individuals by name, place of birth, date of birth, date of death, occupation, religion, gender, or source of information.

Recent Articles and News

The ATLA Religion Database is the best place to find scholarly articles.

The International Index to Black Periodicals (IIBP) includes current and retrospective bibliographic citations and abstracts (currently 270,048 records) and full text from scholarly and popular journals, newspapers, and newsletters from the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Ethnic NewsWatch is a searchable full-text collection of newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic, minority, and native press from 1960 to present. Among the African American titles included are the Bay State Banner (Boston), Chicago Defender, the New York Amsterdam News, Baltimore Afro-American, Call and Post, Indianapolis Recorder, New Pittsburgh Courier, Oakland Post, and the Philadelphia Tribune.

Historical Newspapers

African American Newspapers, 1827-1998, is a fully searchable collection of 270 newspapers from 36 American states, dating from the early nineteenth century through the late twentieth century.

African American Newspapers: The Nineteenth Century includes the complete and searchable text of the following major newspaper titles:

  • Freedom's Journal, New York, N.Y. (1827-29)
  • The Colored American (Weekly Advocate), New York, N.Y. (1837-41)
  • The North Star, Rochester, N.Y. (1847-51)
  • The National Era, Washington, D.C. (1847-60)
  • Provincial Freeman, Chatham, Canada (1854-57)
  • Frederick Douglass' Paper, Rochester, N.Y. (1851-59)
  • The Christian Recorder (1861-1902)

The Liberator was the most influential newspaper in the antebellum, antislavery crusade in the United States. It was published by William Lloyd Garrison from 1831 to 1865 in Boston.

Twentieth-century newspapers:

Historical Books and Essays

Black Thought and Culture is a fully indexed, full-text database of monographs, essays, articles, speeches, and interviews written by leaders within the black community from the early nineteenth century to 1975.

Slavery, Abolition, and Social Justice, 1490-2007 brings together documents and collections covering an extensive time period, 1490-2007.


African American Poetry (1750-1900) includes the complete text of close to 3,000 poems written by more than 50 African American poets.

Black Drama contains the text of 1,200 rare and hard-to-find plays written from the 1850s to the present by 215 playwrights from North America, English-speaking Africa, the Caribbean, and other African Diaspora countries.

Black Short Fiction and Folklore from Africa and the African Diaspora currently features over 6,400 short stories and more than 47,000 pages.

Black Women Writers is composed of over 100,000 pages of literature and essays written by black women from Africa and the African Diaspora.

Clotel by William Wells Brown (1814?-84) was the first African American published novel.

The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature presents more than 400 biographies of authors, critics, literary characters, and historical figures, and 150 plot summaries of major works.

Twentieth-Century African American Poetry includes the full text of over 12,000 poems by more than 100 African American poets.


African American Song is a collection of vocal music reflecting the African American experience through genres such as jazz, blues, gospel, ragtime, folk songs, and narratives. African American Song recordings have been gathered from commercial releases, archival collections, and field recordings.