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AFR 311A / HIST 362   Tags: afr, africana studies, hist, history, history study  

This is a guide about biographical resources for students taking AFR 311A / HIST 362
Last Updated: Feb 15, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Selected Biographical Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

African American National Biography - Henry Louis Gates (Editor); Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (Editor)
Call Number: Reference E185.96 .A4466 2008
ISBN: 0195160193
Publication Date: 2008-02-18
"An eight-volume set containing over 4,000 entries written and signed by distinguished scholars. In addition to Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois and Martin Luther King Jr., the AANB includes a wide range of African Americans from all time periods and all walks of life, both famous and nearly-forgotten."

African American Women - Dorothy C. Salem, editor.
Call Number: E185.96 A45 1993 (6th floor)
ISBN: 0824097823
Publication Date: 1993-09-01

American Memory Collection: African American History
Online information from collections in the U.S. Library of Congress and other libraries.

American National Biography - John A. Garraty (Editor); Mark C. Carnes (Editor)
Call Number: Shelved at Reserves, 1st floor, Morris Library
Publication Date: 1999

Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1996 - Joel D. Treese (Editor)
Call Number: Also available at Reference (non-circulating), 1st Floor, JK1030 .B56 1996
Publication Date: 1997

Credo Reference
This is a collection of reputable, online encyclopedias. Includes several biographical dictionaries and books, including the African American Almanac, Notable American Women, etc.

Current Biography
Call Number: Reference (non-circulating), 1st Floor, CT100 .C8
Publication Date: 1940 - present

The Harvard Guide to African-American History - Clayborne Carson (Contribution by); Thomas Cripps (Contribution by); James P. Danky (Contribution by); Eric Foner (Contribution by); Henry Louis Gates (Contribution by); John Gennari (Contribution by); Marya McQuirtir (Contribution by); Elinor Des Verney
Call Number: Reference E185 .H326 2001
ISBN: 0674002768
Publication Date: 2001-06-25
The first part of the Guide contains 12 essays on historical research aids, from traditional archival and reference materials to the Internet. The second and largest part presents comprehensive and chronological bibliographies, prepared by John Thornton, Peter H. Wood, Gary B. Nash, Stephanie Shaw, Richard J. M. Blackett, Eric Foner, Leon F. Litwack, Joe W. Trotter, Jeffrey Conrad Stewart, Nancy L. Grant, Darlene Clark Hine, Clayborne Carson, John H. Bracey, Adam Biggs, and Corey Walker. The third part contains listings of resources on the special subjects of women, prepared by Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham; geographical areas; and autobiography and biography, prepared by Randall K. Burkett, Leon F. Litwack, and Richard Newman. A companion CD-ROM packaged with the book makes more than 15,000 bibliography entries available for computer searching.

Encyclopedia of African American society - Jaynes, Gerald D. (Editor)
Publication Date: 2005
Online encyclopedia that may contain biographical information.

Key Databases

Try these databases first for scholarly articles, primary sources, and more.

  • Black Studies Center  
    Black Studies Center combines invaluable resources for research and teaching including: essays, video and images from Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, the International Index of Black Periodicals (IIBP), Historical Black Newspapers, History Makers oral histories, Black Abolitionist Papers, Black Literature Index, and dissertations in Black Studies. See the Cornell University site, Biographical Resources: An African and African Diaspora Approach Web Resources, for publicly available video interviews from the History Makers section and images from the Schomburg Studies Collection.
  • America: History and Life (EBSCO)
    "The definitive index of literature covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present." Indexes 1,700 journals from 1964 to present.
  • Historical Abstracts (EBSCO)
    This database focuses on non-North American history. Use the Find Full Text links to located articles/
  • JSTOR  
    A multidisciplinary database of full text non-current scholarly journals. Very good for historical research. Contains original journal articles written by famous figures.
  • Academic Search Complete  
    Academic Search Premier, designed specifically for academic institutions, is the world's largest scholarly, multi-disciplinary full text database

Historically Black Newspapers

Try these collections of historically black newspapers for historical and cultural context.  See our other Newspaper Collections for more historical research, including the Wall Street Journal (1889-1999).

  • Accessible Archives: Primary Source Material from 18th & 19th Century Periodicals  
  • African American Newspapers
    This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day, including the Mexican War, Presidential and Congressional addresses, Congressional abstracts, business and commodity markets, the humanities, world travel and religion. The collection also provides a great number of early biographies, vital statistics, essays and editorials, poetry and prose, and advertisements all of which embody the African-American experience.
  • Black Studies Center  
    Contains a newspaper index.
  • Chicago Defender (1910-1975)  
    The Chicago Defender (1910-1975) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue
  • Chicago Tribune (1849-1992)  
    This is a full-text searchable database of Chicago Tribune's historical backfiles. It includes digital reproductions of newspaper pages, including images.
  • Chicago Tribune (1989-present)  
    Provides reporting and analysis of regional, national, and international news. Coverage is 1989-current.
  • Ethnic NewsWatch  
    Includes Call & Post (Cleveland, 1992-present), Bay State Banner (Boston, 1965-1979), Hyde Park Citizen (1991-present), Indianapolis Recorder (1991-present), Michigan Chronicle (Detroit, 2006-present), Michigan Citizen (1990-present), New York Amsterdam News (1993-present), Oakland Post (1991-present), Philadelphia Tribune(1991-present), Sacramento Observer (1968-1975, 1991-present), Los Angeles Sentinel (1991-present).
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch (1988-present)
    Full text of this daily is available from 1988-present in ProQuest Newsstand.

Suggested Search in Credo

1. Go to library homepage at

2. Find OneSearch and click the name. The menu will expand. 

3. Find Databases by Title. Click the letter C.

4. On the new screen, find Credo Reference. Click on the name to launch the search interface.

5. Find All subjects. Click the arrow to expand the menu. Then find biography, click the name and select to search.

6. You can start with the basic search. Type in e.g. African American in the search box to search. Or you can type in a name e.g. Martin Luther King to search.

You can access the online full text of many biographical dicitonaries and encyclopedias. 

Suggested Searches in I-Share

 1. To find information in general, type in different versions of a person’s name and select keyword from the search menu. This is helpful if you do not know which version of the person’s name is in use. It is also useful to find resources which include a chapter or extensive material about the person, although the person may not be the main topic of the entire book.

2. To find material written by  the person, including memoires and autobiographies, type in his or her name  and select author from the pull-down search menu.

 You may want to try different versions of the name:

  • For women, try using a woman’s maiden name or her married name, e.g., Charlotte Forten vs. Charlotte Forten Grimke. 
  • Spell out initials as or just use initials, e.g. W. E. B. Du Bois or William Edward Burghardt Du Bois

 3.  To find material written by others about the person in which the person is the main topic of the book, type in the person’s name and select subject. Again, try different versions of the person’s name.

 You may search all I-Share libraries or just SIUC.  You may request most print books available in I-Share using your online account.

 Please note that we can’t access other schools’ online materials. However, we may have those resources available in print here at Morris Library. If you have enough time, we will probably be able to get them for you using interlibrary loan from libraries that are not in the I-Share system. There is no charge for this service.

 Remember that information about specific people may also be found in biographical encyclopedias and other biographical collections, e.g., African American National Biography or Notable American Women or Credo Reference.  

The searches below will help you find collections of biographies about African Americans.


For in-depth arguments (often) not yet published, try these databases of dissertations and theses.


OpenSIUC, Research by SIUC Scholars

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