Skip to main content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

African American Women in Theater: III. Digital Collections

A guide for an assignment in Theater 399/591 & African American Studies 389.

On this Page

On this page are collections of sources useful for the study of African American history. All of these resources are available online.

  1. Digital Collections from UIUC Library
  2. Digital Collections on the Open Web

1. Digital Collections from UIUC Library

The Library provides access for UIUC faculty, staff, and students to several major collections of digitized texts. These are available from the “Online Research Resources” page off the Library Gateway Enter the title of the database in the search box and follow the links. These resources were purchased by the UIUC Library and require authentication with a UIUC net id.  

The two largest collections of digitized resources on African American studies available through the UIUC Library are the Black Studies Center and Black Thought and Culture.

Black Studies Center offers several different types of sources.  Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience consists of essays by scholars, organized by topic; timelines; video clips; graphic material (portraits, posters, images of printed documents and manuscripts, photographs, drawings, magazine illustrations); and links to recommended secondary literature.  The International Index to Black Periodicals provides coverage of articles published mainly since the mid-20th century.  Black Literature Index offers coverage of fiction and poetry by African American authors published between 1827 and 1940.  Black Studies Center also links to the digitized version of The Chicago Defender, a newspaper founded in Chicago in 1905 (issues available from 1910).

Black Thought and Culture contains 1300 sources from the 18th century to the present, including esays, pamphlets, letters, articles from journals, interviews (audio and text), and digital images of selected issues of newspapers.

2. Digital Collections on the Open Web

In addition to these subscription databases available only to UIUC students, faculty and staff, there are many digital collections available without restriction or cost to the user.   Below are some of the free digital resources to explore.  There are hundreds more available. See the list of digital collections compiled by the African American Research Center (here in the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library).

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Studies (New York Public Library). Includes a collection documenting the Harlem Renaissance.

American Memory Project (Library of Congress) which includes a section on African American History.

African American Photos for Paris Exposition 1900 (Library of Congress).

Document Archive of the Gilder Lehrman Collection.

American Slave Narratives (University of Virginia).

Race and Place (University of Virginia).

Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina).

Amistad Research Center Digital Archives (Tulane University).