The National Archives holds many records related to African American history, culture, and heritage, and we also have many resources that can help researchers both discover and access those records. If you’re interested in researching a topic related to African American history, you can start your research here, on the National Archives’ African American Research page: https://www.archives.gov/research/african-americans
Not all records related to African American history are held the federal level, though, and many other institutions hold significant collections related to this topic. The National Archives’ National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC - https://www.archives.gov/nhprc) has awarded digitization grants to several institutions across the United States that hold records related to African American history and culture, and many of those digital collections are freely available online.
Here are some of the digital collections related to African American history, culture, and heritage that were made possible by NHPRC grant funding:
- As part of its “Eyes on the Prize Interview Digitization and Reassembly Project,” Washington University in St. Louis has “[made] available approximately 95 hours of previously inaccessible interview footage created for the award-winning documentary series on America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965.” The website is https://library.wustl.edu/tag/eyes-on-the-prize-digitization-and-reassembly-project/.
- The College of Charleston had digitized numerous records from the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture that “document the history of the 20th century civil rights activism in Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry region.” To view the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative, visit this website at http://ldhi.library.cofc.edu/.
- The University of Massachusetts, Amherst has digitized the records of Horace Mann Bond, which “document Bond's leadership in African American education and his political activism.” You can find out more at http://scua.library.umass.edu/ead/mums411.html.
- The University of Alabama has digitized the papers of Septimus D. Cabaniss (1820-1937). Cabaniss, a Civil War era southern attorney, “is renowned for his role as litigator and executor for the estate of a wealthy plantation owner who sought to manumit and leave property to a selection of his slaves, many of whom were his children, after his death in the antebellum south.” View the collection at http://acumen.lib.ua.edu/u0003/0000252.
- The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History (AARL), which is part of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System (AFPLS), collaborated with the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) in digitizing several collections that “document the role of African Americans in the development of educational institutions during a pivotal time in the history of race relations in the United States (1860 - 1950).” Learn more at http://www.afpls.org/aarl.
For more information about other NHPRC digitization grant projects, see:
- Digitization Projects Made Possible by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)
- Records about American Cities - Digitization Projects Funded by the NHPRC
- Advertising, Patents, Trade, and Business Records - Digitization Projects Supported by the NHPRC
- Civil War Records - Digitization Projects Supported by the NHPRC