After the Civil War, African American entrepreneurs founded businesses to serve their own communities, including barber shops, funeral homes, hotels, retail stores, restaurants and catering businesses, newspapers, and beauty products. Small African American businesses and their owners might not be as well-known as Madame C.J. Walker and her cosmetics empire; however, their contributions to their communities cannot be overstated.
Although researching smaller companies may prove more challenging, the Library's Doing Company Research guide may provide some helpful tips for finding out more information on them. The Doing Historical Company Research guide will assist with researching older or out of business companies. Look through the Library's collections listed below to identify other helpful resources such as The Negro Motorist Green-book, the Simms' Blue Book and National Negro Business and Professional Directory, and the U.S. Telephone Directory Collection. For information on searching for images, consult Images and Maps. If you need assistance with your research, please submit a question our Ask a Librarian service.
The following collection titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content, including finding aids for the collections, are included when available.
The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.
Following are links to external websites with digitized resources on African Americans in small business.
These resources on African American small businesses and entrepreneurs are provided by the Library of Congress.