African American History

In celebration of Black History Month and African American History as a whole, explore our resources on African American history and culture including famous African Americans From Philadelphia, Poets and Poetry, Speculative Fiction, Nonfiction, Books for Early Readers, The Harlem Renaissance, Tuskegee Airmen, Scientists and Inventors, Politics, Black Colleges and Universities, and Black History Month events throughout Philadelphia area.

African American African American History

Links

  • Black Inventors A to Z
    About.com's biographical guide to African American inventors also contains links to additional content including African American patent holders and a trivia quiz.
  • Top Ten African American Inventors
    A brief slideshow from Scholastic Magazine for grades 3-4.
  • African American History
    Major Speeches: Speeches from outstanding African American orators.
  • African American History: Major Speeches
    Speeches from outstanding African American orators
  • African American Museum in Philadelphia
    Exhibitions, collections, educational programs, and more. This is the official web site of the museum, dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the culture of African Americans in Philadelphia and beyond.
  • African American Senators
    Photos and short biographies of African Americans senators, starting with Hiram Revels of Mississippi in 1870, the first African American U.S.senator.
  • Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in University City
    Black History Month Events @ Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in University City
  • Behind The Veil - Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South
    A selection of 100 recorded oral history interviews chronicling African-American life during the age of legal segregation in the American South, from the 1890s to the 1950s.
  • Bethune-Cookman College
    Noted educator Mary McLeod Bethune founded what later became known as Bethune-Cookman College in 1904.
  • Black Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database
    This database serves as a starting point for relatives or researchers as they begin to piece together individual experiences of black soldiers and sailors in the Civil War.
  • Black Dispatches
    African American Contributions to Union Intelligence During the Civil War.
  • Cheyney University of Pennsylvania
    Located just outside of Philadelphia and founded in 1837 as the Institute for Colored Youth, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is the oldest of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in America.
  • Desegregation of the Armed Forces
    A Collection of Documents detailing President Truman's decision to desegregate the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Hampton University
    Located in southeastern Virginia, Hampton University offers a broad range of technical, liberal arts, pre-professional, professional, and graduate degree programs.
  • Howard University
    This HBCU is located in Washington, D.C.
  • Lincoln University
    Lincoln University is located in southern Chester County, about 45 miles southwest of Philadelphia. Famous alumni include Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall.
  • Morehouse College
    Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., filmmaker Shelton "Spike" Lee, and Olympic Gold Medalist Edwin Moses are among the renowned alumni of Atlanta, Georgia's Morehouse College.
  • National Constitution Center
    Daily events and activities including Decoding the Document, a workshop that examines the museum’s own rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln, and the interactive Breaking Barriers show, spotlighting the lives of Thurgood Marshall, Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson and other barrier-breaking African-Americans.
  • Notable African Americans
    Short biographies of prominent African Americans from all walks of life.
  • Notable African-American Government Officials
    Important African American Government Officials
  • Physicists of the African Diaspora
    Short biographies of African American scientists prominent in physics, chemistry, engineering and mathematics.
  • President Barack Obama
    Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States and the first African American to hold the office.
  • Teachers and students embrace Black Lives Matter Week in city schools
    Among the activities were after-school and weekend events, such as film screenings and panel discussions, all meant to spark conversations about the 13 guiding principles of Black Lives Matter. The principles include embracing diversity, practicing empathy, affirmation of queer and transgender students, and how to live unapologetically Black, among others. The point was to encourage conversations among teachers, parents, and students about issues of race in their schools and communities.
  • The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)
    Founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1915 in response to the lack of information on the accomplishments of African Americans. The Black History Month Theme for 2014 is Civil Rights in America, marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
  • The Faces of Science
    African Americans in the Sciences: This site contains profiles of African Americans who have contributed to science and engineering. Many profiles contain photographs of the scientist.
  • The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences
    This site contains profiles of African Americans who have contributed to science and engineering. Many profiles contain photographs of the scientist.
  • The Philly Black History Syllabus: 13 Must-read Books to Understand Our City
    Experts share what books spotlighting Philadelphia you should be reading during Black History Month.
  • Timeline of African American History
    From the Library of Congress, a timeline of events from 1852-1925 put together to support a special digital collection entitled "African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection".

Biographies For Kids by explore

Read biographies of famous and historical African Americans.

View the full list

Barack Obama: The Making of an American President (14 items)

Learn more about the life and achievement of President Obama.

African Americans Win the West (12 items)

Pioneering African Americans of the Old West.

African Americans in the Cinema (9 items)

Lights, Camera, Action! Dig into the world of Black filmmakers, actors and actresses.

Memoirs and Reminiscences by African American Authors (14 items)

Autobiographical selections.

Award-Winning African American Authors (14 items)

Books by prize-winning writers.

African American Revolutionaries and Inventors from Philadelphia (6 items)

Inspiring stories and historical perspective of African American Revolutionaries and Inventors from Philadelphia through the years.

African American Quilts (8 items)

Discover the beauty of these treasures of American folk art.

African American Celebrations (10 items)

Explore the rich cultural traditions that are an integral part of the African American experience.

African American Books for Early Readers (20 items)

Books starring African Americans for Early Readers.

Upcoming Events


Blog Posts

Art Department Celebrates Black History Month with African American Artists from Philadelphia

The Art Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia maintains a collection of artist files going back to the 19th century. Our artist files are folders that include article clippings, gallery announcements, artist statements,…

African American Black History Month
African American Philanthropists in Early Philadelphia

Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and other tech billionaire/philanthropists may have set new standards in giving, but philanthropy is an old Philadelphia tradition with two of our earliest millionaire/philanthropists being African…

African American history
How Will You Celebrate Black History Month?

Our libraries have a full lineup of programs and activities this February to celebrate the rich intellectual and cultural contributions made by the African American community. We have everything from performances and special guests to…

African American Black History Month
Graphic Novel Memoirs

I love a graphic novel—and even better I love a graphic novel memoir . There is something so much more intimate about reading the words AND pictures when someone shares her story. Or maybe I’m just a slower reader when it…

Reviews LGBTQ Teens African American YA Literature graphic novels social justice
Jerry Pinkney Day

Jerry Pinkney is a rock star. His fans tend to be of the toddler-variety, but he has legions of older die-hard devotees of his work as well—mostly parents, nannies, and a lot of librarians. This week, a new fan is…

ALA Awards African American Children's books Jerry Pinkney
#OneBookWednesday: Storytelling Inspired by One Book

One Book, One Philadelphia is known for inspiring great conversations across the Philadelphia region. Last week, it also inspired some new stories altogether—as a panel of professional storytellers shared stories inspired by the…

One Book One Philadelphia African American Black History Month
Cook This Now: Oldways Jollof Rice

This recipe is from the  A Taste of African Heritage series, a free six-lesson nutrition and cooking program presented by Oldways that we host at the Culinary Literacy Center. The series brings the savory tradition of eating a…

African American culinary literacy Recipes
Caldecott, Newbery, Belpre, Oh My!

Last weekend in Chicago, a room full of children's and teen librarians erupted in cheers, gasps, and wild applause for the newest batch of books chosen for the Youth Media Awards, administered by the American Library…

Awards LGBTQ reading African American Children's books Pre-K recommendations early literacy YA Literature
Sundays on Stage Winter/Spring Calendar of events!

Get ready to rock, roll, dance, and dream this summer as our Sundays on Stage FREE performance series returns this weekend! This series of free performances for children, families, and adults is made possible by funding from the…

Events at the Library children's programs Community Events family programs Parkway Central Sundays on Stage African American Children's books
Streaming Philadelphia History - Introducing Input with Marion Stokes & John S. Stokes, Jr

Input  was a Philadelphia panel discussion program hosted by John S. Stokes, Jr. that aired Sunday mornings on WCAU-TV10 from 1968 through early 1971. The program is a window in to the people and ideas that shaped that tumultuous…

African American television history digital media
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Raschka: A great introduction to African American history for the youngest readers

Looking for some great books for your children? Our children's librarians are excited to share their expert reviews with you. For this month, we focus on African American history for children. Ever heard of Charlie Parker? Read…

African American Children's books
12 Years A Slave and Slave Narratives

Earlier this year I read the autobiography Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup and was blown away. While reading the book I often thought about what I learned about slavery in school and the various films I've seen on the…

African American history
Summer in the City

"Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise."   So reads the memorable inscription above the door of Shakespeare & Company , one of my favorite bookstores. This quaint Parisian bookstore…

children's programs African American Children's books
LEAP's DREAM@50 Contest Winners

Today marks what would have been the 84th birthday of Nobel Prize winning activist and Civil Rights Leader Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. The DREAM@50 is a tribute series that was held throughout 2012 and continues into 2013, commemorating…

Exhibitions art Awards children's programs Parkway Central African American
Malcolm X Review

Columbia Professor Manning Marable recently passed away April 1, 2011, three days before the publication of his new biography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention . Professor Marable has spent his career studying…

African American recommendations
What I'm Reading Now

Two extraordinary writers have recently released new novels, years after their earlier books established their literary reputations. It's been fifteen years since Fae Myenne Ng's debut, Bone , and eager fans have been devouring her new…

Reviews African American
African American National Biography

An exciting addition to our reference collection is making its way onto shelves around the city: the multi-volume African American National Biography , published by Oxford University Press and edited by Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn…

Reviews African American
Harlem Book Fair News!

When I attended the Harlem Book Fair recently, I spoke with local Philly author, Karen E. Quinones Miller, who has started her own publishing company.  The Free Library of Philadelphia has ordered these new titles (click…

Reviews Street Lit African American

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