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Special Collections: African American Studies Research Guide: Home

The Research Guide to African American resources in Special Collections provides information on primary sources relating to Americans of African descent. The guide is divided into five sections: Printed Collections, Visual Materials, Oral Histories, Postc

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Special Collections: African American Studies

Special Collections' African American Resource Guide

This guide provides information on primary sources located in Special Collections that relate to Americans of African descent. The guide is divided into five sections:

Print Collections: refers to printed text on paper, such as books, journals, magazines. The collection of printed sources include representative literary works by significant African American authors, such as Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Frances E. W. Harper’s Iola Leroy, Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Lyrics of a Lowly Life, W. E. B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk, Alice Dunbar Nelson’s Violets and Other Tales, Langston Hughes’s The Weary Blues, Nella Larson’s Quicksand, Sterling Brown’s Southern Roads, Gwendolyn Brook’s Annie Allen, Ishmael Reed’s The Freelance Pallbearers, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

Manuscripts and Archival Collections:  refers to a wide range of unpublished materials, such as handwritten and typed letters, documents, photographs, drawings, rough drafts, or maps that are of personal, historical, political and cultural importance to individuals or families. Archival Collections: refers to an historical records of primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime, and are kept to show the function of that person or organization.

The Manuscript and Archival Collection contains rare historical documents pertaining to African Americans, including slave bills of sale, plantation inventory lists, manumission papers, and wills which contain information concerning slaves. Copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and The Thirteenth Amendment can be located in the Lincoln Collection. In addition, researchers interested in contemporary issues of civil rights, Black Nationalism, integration, and racial justice, will find an abundance of material in The American Propaganda Collection, The Chris Oakley Collection of Alterative Press, The Delaware Desegregation Archives, and The Sir Joseph Gold Political and Miscellaneous Ephemera Collection. Moreover, the manuscript and archival collection contains the literary papers of writers Charles Johnson, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and Ishmael Reed.

This research guide is not exhaustive and is not intended to be a complete finding aid to the collections. Instead it serves as a guided introduction and preliminary research tool. It provides a brief description of holdings with basic information on size, inclusive dates, types of records, and a brief description of the materials. Complete finding aids are available in print and electronic format. Web links to available electronic finding aids are provided with this guide. This research guide will be updated periodically.

Visual Materials: refers to a wide range of nonverbal primary sources, such as photographs, cinema and video films, videotapes, paintings, drawings, prints, designs, three-dimensional art such as sculpture and architecture. The Visual Material Collection provides a small sample of African Americana in the form of ephemera pasted in scrapbooks. Greeting cards, trade cards, and other images found in these volumes depict stereotypical racial caricatures made popular during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among other visual ephemera is a playbill from an 1865 minstrel show.

Oral Histories: refers to audio and video recordings of interviews. The Delaware Oral History Collection, which was created from interviews conducted between 1966 and 1978, was a project of the History Department at the University of Delaware. The collection features a number of interviews with African Americans from Delaware. Interviews with ordinary citizens such as Mary A. Watson Elliott, a former University of Delaware custodian, to prominent Delawarean Pauline Young, the niece of famed writer Alice-Dunbar Nelson (former wife of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar) are among these holdings.

Postcards: The Delaware Postcard Collection comprises of over 2,000 historical images depicting places and life in Delaware.  The Gregory C. Wilson Collection consists of African-American postcards and trade cards, printed ephemera, and letters. The majority of the collection consists of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American postcards and trade cards that feature a diverse array of positive and negative images of African Americans.

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Sojourner Truth

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