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African American historical documents online

  • Do you like the idea of using historical documents with your students but aren't quite sure what to do with them? Try consulting some of the websites listed at the end of this page to get resources on the use of primary sources in the classroom.

African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship

This Special Presentation of the Library of Congress exhibition, The African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship, showcases the Library's incomparable African American collections. Includes a wide array of full-text important and rare books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, and musical scores.

African American Perspectives - Pamphlets from the The Daniel A. P. Murray Collection 1818-1907

The collection presents a panoramic and eclectic review of African-American history and culture, spanning almost one hundred years from the early nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries, with the bulk of the material published between 1875 and 1900. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Benjamin W. Arnett, Alexander Crummel, and Emanuel Love.

African-American Women - On-line Archival Collections - Special Collections Library, Duke University

Elizabeth Johnson Harris - Life Story, 1867-1923
Elizabeth Johnson Harris was born in Augusta, Georgia, in 1867 to parents who had been slaves. This on-line collection includes full text of her memoirs as well as several of her poems and vignettes that were published in various newspapers during her lifetime.

Vilet Lester Letter, 1857
Although many of the facts of Vilet Lester's life may be elusive, she still gives us a rare and precious view into slave life through this letter.

Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson: Slave Letters 1837-1838
These letters were written by Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson to their mistresses and other slave family members during this time period. The letters provide a rare firsthand glimpse into the lives of slaves and the relationships they had with their owners.

African American Women Writers of the 19th Century

A digital collection of some 52 published works by 19th-century black women writers. A part of the Digital Schomburg, this collection provides access to the thought, perspectives and creative abilities of black women as captured in books and pamphlets published prior to 1920. A full text database of these 19th and early 20th- century titles, this digital library is key-word-searchable.

American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology

Excerpts from Slave Narratives
Edited by Steven Mintz, University of Houston
From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1824-1909

Presents 397 pamphlets from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, published from 1824 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics. The materials range from personal accounts and public orations to organizational reports and legislative speeches.

Images of African Amercians from the 19th Century

Exploring Amistad

Mystic Seaport's site explores the Amistad Revolt of 1839-1842 and how history is made of it.

Pedagogical Resources

Using Primary Source Documents

Using Primary Sources in the Classroom

These suggestions for student activities can help you enhance your social studies curriculum using authentic artifacts, documents, photographs, and manuscripts.

MEDIA ANALYSIS TOOLS or worksheets guide students into deeper analysis of primary sources. View these tools at work in lessons to see how they might be used or adapted to your needs.

How To Read A 200-Year-Old Document and Other FAQs

DoHistory Toolkit

Short essays designed to help the beginning historian conduct and organize his or her own historical research. Essays marked with include forms for you to print and use in your own research.

Lessons from the National Archives and Records Administration - Primary Sources and Activities
The focus of these lessons is the teaching of social sciences through the use of primary documents from the holdings of National Archives of the United States. The following lessons are relevant to the teaching of African American history:

The Fight for Equal Rights: Black Soldiers in the Civil War

The Amistad Case
For additional information see http://www.paralegal.net/resources/amistad-case/

Beyond the Playing Field: Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate