University Library News
Georgia State University

Resources for Black History Month (and the rest of the year)

cover, Jarvis Givens, Fugitive Pedagogy

Established in 1976 (as an expansion of Negro History Week, first established by Carter G. Woodson in 1925), Black History Month has been observed for over forty-five years. Black history is part of American history. Slavery and civil rights activism are major points of entry into Black history, but Black history involves more than enslavement’s beginning, duration, and end, and more than the resulting struggle for civil rights, important as those histories are. We can also ask questions about Blacks’ contributions to American culture, to American politics, to every aspect of American history and life. We can ask how the ways in which history is written, how history gets “done” may have limited Black history to a smaller number of undoubtedly important figures, who cannot be downplayed, but whose stories do not have to outweigh other, lesser-told stories.

We can also ask about what kinds of materials are held in archives and Special Collections libraries. Research libraries have emerged which focus specifically on African-American historical collections: the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, a branch of the New York Public Library, is the largest library of this type in the United States. The second-largest library dedicated to African-American historical collections is here in Atlanta: the Auburn Avenue Research Library, a branch of the Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library is literally just down the street from Georgia State University. Local archives here in Atlanta with significant African-American historical materials, including materials relating to African-American literary figures, include

Reference staff at these organizations can provide more information about their holdings of Black historical resources.  These libraries and archives include digitized materials from their collections as well.

For other digital collections of Black historical materials, see for example:

The GSU Library collects books and other sources that provide information and insight into the breadth and ongoing development of Black-historical knowledge. By learning more about Black history, we can also identify tools, questions, and ways of thinking about history that will help us continue to expand our awareness of American history—all year round. In this way, every book or article about Black history not only expands and deepens our knowledge… they also suggest questions and tools that readers can use to ask about and learn about Black history as part of American history.

Recently acquired books on Black history include (but are not limited to!):

And finally, in honor of the founder of Negro History Week, Carter G. Woodson: