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African American Newspapers

A guide to African American newspapers held at the Library of Congress and available online.


[Press room of the Planet newspaper, Richmond, Virginia]. 1899?. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

The first African American newspaper in the United States, Freedom's Journal, started in New York City as a weekly abolitionist publication in 1827. More than 3,000 African American newspapers have appeared and disappeared since the debut of that first one. These newspapers are a vital part of the Black press and chronicle the social history of African Americans.

There were as many as 40 African American newspapers and magazines between the appearance of Freedom's Journal and the end of slavery.  Post-Reconstruction years gave rise to the greatest increase in African American newspapers. Among the reasons for this were improved educational opportunities, support of religious groups, the establishment of political sheets for disfranchised African Americans, and the growth of an urban middle class which could support newspapers.

During the era of the New Journalism, between 1880 and WWI, both the mainstream press and the Black press grew in numbers, circulation, and stature. Between 1880 and 1915, more than 1,876 African American newspapers were operating in the United States.

This guide provides an overview of the holdings of African American newspapers held at the Library of Congress in the Serial & Government Publications Division, as well as in other divisions within the Library. The titles are listed alphabetically by state and city. Also included in the holdings for each title is any digital access through databases that the Library subscribes to and links to any known freely available issues online.