I need to do some research in African and African American studies. Where do I start?


Search terms that can help you narrow down your results in HOLLIS, Academic Search Premier, and other multidisciplinary resources. Several of these terms could be placed in more than once of these categories; this is just a way to start thinking about what kinds of terms you might use.

  • people/entities: "James Baldwin," "fugitive slaves," "African Methodist Episcopal Church"
  • geography: Chicago,"southern states," "antebellum South"
  • movements: Afrocentrism, anti-slavery, "Harlem Renaissance"
  • concepts:  slavery, multiculturalism, "color blindness"
  • time period terms: Reconstruction, "civil rights era," "21st century"
  • events/eras: "Second Great Migration," "Million Woman March," "Nat Turner's Rebellion"


Oxford African American Studies Center includes several excellent reference works such as  

  • Encyclopedia of African American History
  • Black Women in America
  • African American National Biography


Library Liaison to African Studies and African-American Studies, Susan Gilroy, Reference Librarian, Lamont Library, sgilroy@fas.harvard.edu, 617-496-5403

Research Contact for African Studies, Bassey Irele, Librarian for Sub-Saharan Africa, Collection Development, Widener Library, e-mail, 617-495-3559


Africa-Wide- African, European and North American databases with close to 2 million records indexing printed texts, maps and music recordings on all topics in African studies. Coverage from 19th c. forward.


African American Biographical Database (1790-1950) brings together in one resource the biographies of thousands of African Americans, assembled from biographical dictionaries and other sources.

See also

Our research guide for finding newspapers and newspaper articles.



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