Skip to main content

African American History Online: A Resource Guide

Library of Congress Online Resources

A large number of primary source collection materials related to African American history are digitized and available online via the Library of Congress's website, including manuscripts, newspaper articles, images, and rare books. In addition, the Library also provides digital content on African American history through their exhibition program, "Today in History" essays, and online research guides.

Digital Collections at the Library of Congress

The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of primary source materials related to African Americans. From the Library's growing digital collections, a selected list of relevant collections is provided below.

Selected Digital Collections

Library of Congress Exhibitions

The richness and variety of the Library’s exhibitions reflect the universal and diverse nature of the Library's collections.

Selected Online Exhibitions

A selection of exhibitions showcasing events of historical significance to the African American experience are highlighted below along with access to online information and some digitized materials.

Newspaper and Journal Collections

The Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room maintains one of the most extensive newspaper collections in the world. It is exceptionally strong in US newspapers, with 9,000 titles covering the past three centuries. With over 25,000 non-US titles, it is the largest collection of overseas newspapers in the world. Beyond its newspaper holdings, the Division also has extensive collections of current periodicals (70,000 titles) comic books (over 7,000 titles) and government publications (1 million items).

Historic Newspapers Online

Selected Highlights from Chronicling America

A sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection.  The following selection of "Topic Guides" are related to African Americans in historical news reports.  Within each guide, users will find sections "Use the Suggested Search Terms" and "Sample Articles" useful to further online research in newspapers.

Visual Materials Collections

Unique in their scope and richness, the picture collections number more than 16 million images. These include photographs, historical prints, posters, cartoons, documentary drawings, fine prints, and architectural and engineering designs. While international in scope, the collections are particularly strong in materials documenting the history of the United States and the lives, interests, and achievements of the American people.

Selected Highlights

The following list of guides provide access to digital images with historical relevance to African Americans. These items are available online from the Library's Prints and Photographs Division.

Rare Book and Special Material Collections

The collections housed in The Rare Book and Special Collections Division amount to nearly 800,000 books, encompassing nearly all eras and subjects maintained in well over 100 separate collections. All of these collections offer scholarly documentation about the western and American traditions of life and learning.

Selected Highlights

Listed below are rare items by and about African Americans from the Rare Book Collections that have been digitized and made available online.

Today in History

Today in History is a Library of Congress presentation of historic events illuminated by items from the Library's Digital Collections. Written by Library of Congress staff, the essays are fact-checked and updated by reference staff from the Library's Research and reference Services Division. Each essay offers search tips and links selected to encourage users to dive more deeply into the Library's growing digital collections.

Selected Highlights

The following essays have been selected to help guide users to digitally available resources related to people and events in African American history. Included in each essay is a bibliography to help further online research.

Related Research Guides

The following research guides on the subject of  "African American Studies" are available from the Library of Congress: