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Information Center: About Black Studies Center

Black Studies Center brings together essential historical and current material for researching the past, present and future of African Americans, the wider African Diaspora, and Africa itself. It is comprised of several cross-searchable, component databases, described below.

Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience

At the heart of Black Studies Center is Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, an essential resource created by collaboration between the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and ProQuest. Major topics on the African diaspora experience throughout the Americas are examined with in-depth, scholarly essays accompanied by detailed timelines, important full-text research articles, as well as images, film clips, and more. The thirty substantial essays were commissioned from leading academic black studies scholars who surveyed and analyzed the most important existing research literature in their respective fields. Presented are concise overviews which detail the most up-to-date thought on major topics of origin, culture, identity, art, religion, social justice, and more. Also included are reference textbooks Handbook of African American Literature and Encyclopedia of African Literature.

International Index to Black Periodicals (IIBP)

IIBP is the only periodical database of current titles pertaining to black studies and culture available today. It also has the largest backfile of retrospective bibliographic citations for black periodicals from as early as 1902. IIBP covers journals and magazines from the United States, African nations, and the Caribbean. Coverage is international in scope and multidisciplinary, spanning cultural, economic, historical, religious, social, and political issues of vital importance to the Black Studies discipline.

Also included as part of the Journals Search is the very first index to black serials: The Marshall Index, compiled by Albert P. Marshall, an African American librarian at the State Teachers College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and first published as a quarterly magazine, A Guide to Negro Periodical Literature, from 1941 to 1946. It covers 42 of the leading African-American periodicals between 1940 and 1946. The Marshall Index was published in a revised single-volume print edition by ProQuest in 2002, edited by James Danky and Richard Newman. It is now searchable within the journals portion of Black Studies Center.

The Chicago Defender

Black Studies Center provides the historical full-text of one of the most influential black newspapers in the United States, The Chicago Defender. Coverage is from 1910 to 1975. Robert Sengstacke Abbott founded The Defender in May 1905, and by the outbreak of the First World War, it had become the most widely-read black newspaper in the country, with more than two thirds of its readership based outside Chicago. When Abbott died in 1940, his nephew John Sengstacke became editor and publisher of The Defender, which began publishing on a daily basis in 1956. The first full-text issue presented here is from January 1, 1910, as earlier issues have not been found. The newspaper was instrumental in the Great Migration of the early twentieth century, in publicizing the lynchings in the southern states, and in its use of political cartoons to highlight race issues. Almost two million full-text records offer a broad and valuable archive for researchers.

Black Literature Index

Black Studies Center includes the online index to Black Literature, 1827-1940, a microfiche collection which is one of the most significant research efforts in African American studies. Begun at Yale University by Professor John Blassingame and continued by another colleague, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the project was completed by Gates at Harvard's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research. Since its release, the collection has redefined African American literature. Gates described it as rediscovering "a hermetically sealed library of the Afro-American periodical literature after a century of neglect." This index allows users to search over 70,000 bibliographic citations for fiction, poetry and literary reviews published in 110 black periodicals and newspapers between 1827-1940. Many of the works were published in black newspapers, and citations from The Chicago Defender are linked to the full-text page article. Links to more literary works in other ProQuest Historical Newspapers New York Amsterdam News, Norfolk New Journal and Guide, and Pittsburgh Courier can also be enabled for purchasers of those titles.

Additional Modules

The HistoryMakers®

The HistoryMakers® collection in Black Studies Center is an archive of filmed oral history interviews of 20th century African Americans who have shaped modern history. The archive represents the direct voices of a diverse group of African Americans who have made significant contributions to history and politics, education, law, the creative arts, science and medicine, business, the military, and sports.

The HistoryMakers®, founded in July 1999 as a nonprofit organization, represents the single largest African American archival video collection in the world. The purpose of the organization is to educate and demonstrate the breadth and depth of the African American experience through first person narratives of both well-known and unsung African Americans. The ProQuest collection includes 100 videos and complete transcripts from The HistoryMakers®. Each interview video and corresponding transcript is subject-indexed and segmented. The transcripts are fully searchable. This oral history video archive is available for searching through Black Studies Center or as a standalone resource.

ProQuest Dissertations for Black Studies

The ProQuest Dissertations for Black Studies module contains a thousand doctoral dissertations and Masters' theses examining a wide variety of topics and subject areas relating to Black Studies. Included are dissertations written between 1970 and 2004 at over 100 universities and colleges across the United States. These dissertations were selected for their relevance to Black Studies scholars from the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database. ProQuest Dissertations for Black Studies is available as an optional add-on module for Black Studies Center.

ProQuest Black Newspapers

Seven additional historical Black newspapers are available for purchase:

  • New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993)
  • Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002)
  • Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005)
  • Atlanta Daily World (1932-2003)
  • Philadelphia Tribune (1912-2001)
  • Norfolk New Journal and Guide (1921-2003)
  • Baltimore Afro-American (1893-1988)

Records from Black Literature Index are directly linked to the full-text literary works appearing in New York Amsterdam News, Norfolk New Journal and Guide and the Pittsburgh Courier. These additional newspapers greatly expand the breadth of primary source material in Black Studies Center. Important perspectives on local, regional, and international events throughout the twentieth century create a vast research archive accessible to both novice and experienced researchers. Groundbreaking research has been advanced and enhanced by access to these influential newspapers.

Black Abolitionist Papers

This extraordinary, primary source collection was the first to comprehensively detail the extensive work of African Americans to abolish slavery in the United States prior to the Civil War. Covering the period 1830-1865, the collection presents the massive, international impact of African American activism against slavery, in the writings and publications of the activists themselves. The approximately 15,000 articles, documents, correspondence, proceedings, manuscripts, and literary works of almost 300 Black abolitionists show the full range of their activities in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Germany. Black Abolitionist Papers, when first published in microfilm, literally transformed scholarly understanding of Black activism during this period. It is now easily accessible as an online resource, searchable within Black Studies Center or as a separate database.

Read more about Black Abolitionist Papers

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