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AAS 3980: African American Research Methods (Dixon/Fall 2016): Primary Sources


Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user wrestlingentropy

Important things to keep in mind:

This page is NOT a comprehensive list of all existing digital (or nondigital!) primary sources. You may need to do some online searching on your own to find digital resources related to your topic. For guidance on how to assess a website's reliability, see the "Evaluating Information" tab.

Not every primary source will be available online or in digital form.

You may also want to consult the Primary Sources: History research guide.

Searching GIL and GIL-Find

Use GIL, GSU's library catalog, to find books in our library. The catalog also lists other materials in the library - including microfilm, dissertations, movies, music and special collections.

Try using these keywords with your search to turn up primary sources:

(image from

Finding Images

Zora Neale Hurston, Rochelle French, and Gabriel Brown, Eatonville, Florida

Photograph by Alan Lomax, June 1935.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

These websites are good sources for historical images of African-Americans:

Subscription Databases: Digital Collections available to GSU affiliates only

Selected Online Resources: Freely Available

Searching for Digital Collections

Many libraries and organizations are making digital materials available online.

To find these collections, use this search string in Google or another search engine:

digital collection library + WORDS RELATED TO YOUR TOPIC

for example: digital collection library site:edu "civil rights"

You can also try the same search limiting to site:org rather than site:edu BUT:

Be careful!

EDU = educational institution
= organization, which can mean almost ANY kind of noncorporate organization. If you aren't familiar with the organization, do some research on it! Who are they? What do they promote? Are they reliable?

* * *

For more information about evaluating websites, see the Evaluating Information tab, above.

Local Archives

Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History  A division of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System - the nation's second largest archives specializing in the history of African Americans and Africans in the Diaspora. Collection info

Emory University's Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library (MARBL)  Collections span more than 800 years of history — with particular depth in modern literature, African American history, and the history of Georgia and the South.

GSU Library Special Collections and Archives  Located on the 8th floor of Library South. Collection areas are Southern Labor, Popular Music, Women's Collections, Georgia Government Documentation Project, University Archives, Rare Books, and Photographs.

Atlanta History Center Archives (Kenan Research Center) Collects primary and secondary source materials in all formats conveying the history of Atlanta and the culture of the American south.  Besides Atlanta materials, collection strengths include the Civil War, southeast family history, architecture & decorative arts, and garden history.

Georgia Archives  Run by the Archives & History Division of the Georgia government - collects, manages, and preserves official records of Georgia from 1732 to the present. Materials include vital records, land records, federal and state census records, photographs, and much more.

Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the University of Georgia  Includes the Rare Book Collection, Historical Manuscripts, and the Georgiana Collection. Subject interests include Georgia, book arts, theater, music, history, literature, journalism and genealogy.

Jimmy Carter Library & Museum  Part of the Presidential Library system administered by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

National Archives - Southeast Region, Atlanta  Regional library administered by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Historical African-American Newspapers at GSU

African American Newspapers

James P. Danky, ed., African-American Newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography is a good starting point for identifying titles of historical African-American periodicals.

Oral Histories

Is There a Website for That?

George Mason University's National History Education Clearinghouse has published reviews of over 1000 history-oriented websites.

The National Endowment for the Humanities' Edsitement! site's History/Social Studies section also includes many approved websites featuring historical material.

Browse, or use keywords to search for a website or digital library relevant to your topic.

Looking for Resources on a Particular State?

Many state-based libraries and organizations are digitizing Civil War materials relating to the their state.

The Library of Congress has assembled this list of state digital libraries. Search by state, or check out the Multi-State options.