CSU Northridge University Library
"Ain’t I A Woman?" African American Women
A Research Guide to Resources About African American Women

by M. Burdex

This is intended to be a bibliographical guide TO reference materials--points of departures, etc.--rather than books ABOUT African American women. It includes mostly items that are regularly found in college or university libraries, as well as in some large/main or central branches of public libraries. No Attempt has been made to list every reference source on African American women. The intent is to cite and annotate those major items that will facilitate one’s research on African American women.

One important key to understanding and using the CSUN library - in fact any library - effectively is the catalog. The catalog is the source wherein one is able to find the holdings of the library listed by author’s name or title, and also subject matter. This would be true if you’re searching for full length books or monographs. If however, you are searching for periodicals at CSUN, you would only be able to search by specific titles of periodicals, rather than articles written by an author with an individual title or on a specific subject when using the online catalog [GEAC]. When searching for periodical articles, it is necessary to use separate periodical (i.e. popular magazine or academic journal) indexes--either online or paper copy--to find needed information. Following which, you will need to consult our catalog [GEAC, or a separate one volume, printed listing of CSUN’s periodicals, serials and newspapers] looking up the titles of the periodical, in order to ascertain whether the title is held by CSUN.

Locating a book under the author’s name or by title--if the author is not known--is fairly easy. Locating one by using the subject heading can become very difficult if the correct heading is not used. The subject headings in this bibliography are Library Of Congress subject headings and are the authority used in college or university libraries, and the Library Of Congress. In other words, these are the terms one should use when searching for materials--usually full length books--held by the library. The following are a few important subject headings to be used when doing research on African American women.

Library Of Congress Subject headings:

The terms:

(May Subd Geog)= subject may also be subdivided by geographical designation, e.g. name of country, state, city, etc.; and

(Not Subd Geog)= subject may NOT be subdivided by geographical designation. Scope notes=describing definition of subject within context of meanings of a term to which the library’s catalog is limited.

Afro-American women (May Subd Geog); Here are entered works on women of the United States of black African descent. Works on black women who temporarily reside in the United States, such as aliens, students from abroad, etc., are entered under Black women - UnitedStates. Works on black women outside the United States are entered under

     (Listing of sources).

     (Bibliographies on African American women). Subject heading: Afro-American women - Bibliography.

Redfern, Bernice. WOMEN OF COLOR IN THE UNITED STATES, A GUIDE TO THE LITERATURE. N.Y. & London: Garland Pub. Inc., 1989. Four chapters:

  1. Afro-American women;
  2. Asian American women;
  3. Hispanic American women;
  4. Native American women) with author and subject indexes. Chapter on African American women is more extensive than the other three.
[REF HQ1410.R43 1989 Stacks]

Richardson, Marilyn. BLACK WOMEN AND RELIGION: A BIBLIOGRAPHY. Boston, Ma:G.K. Hall [c1980]. Emphasis is on "... the history and present-day activities of black feminists in the church and as religionists... ".
[REF Z1361.N39R53 Refrm].

Sims, Janet L. THE PROGRESS OF AFRO-AMERICAN WOMEN:A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY AND RESOURCE GUIDE. Westport, Conn., London, England: Greenwood Press [1980]. A selective bibliography of nineteenth and twentieth century black press sources which includes "... the contributions and the work of Afro-American women in the armed services and defense movement, the suffrage movement, the women’s rights and feminist movement[s], the church,... the family...sports...community organizations...politics...law and law enforcement...medicine...". The information included was obtained from "major black publications, masters theses, and doctoral dissertations".
[REF Z1361.N39S52 Refrm].

Werner, Craig. BLACK AMERICAN WOMEN NOVELISTS, AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY. Pasadena, CA:Salem Press [c1989]. 33 novelists included. Intent of bibliography is threefold: "

  1. to provide a historical overview of commentary on black women novelists and their most important works;
  2. to help identify current issues and future directions in the criticism of those works; and
  3. to suggest sources of contextual information that will help students and critics avoid serious misunderstanding of those works." Because "a full overview of the historical development on black women’s novel" is the goal, reviews, articles, or books which the compiler believes have flaws or disagrees with "on fundamental points" are cited also.
[REF PS153.N5W47 1989 Refrm].

     (Bibliographies on African Americans). Subject headings: Afro-American abolitionists; Afro-American families; Afro-Americans.

Davis, Lenwood G. THE BLACK FAMILY IN THE UNITED STATES: A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF ANNOTATED BOOKS, ARTICLES AND DISSERTATIONS ON BLACK FAMILIES IN AMERICA. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press [c1978]. Note publication date. Three periods of literature presented:

  1. "literature that emphasizes the evils of the Black family via the concept of white supremacy" [1965];
  2. "... clarifying Moynihan’s [1965] interpretation as explanations of statistical deviations (Blacks from whites) as being inherently pathological..." [1964-1971]; and
  3. "... critically reviews the inadequate methodology of the literature" of the preceding periods [1970-73]. This literature "... is addressed to racial sensitivity and consciousness, which has been deliberately smothered and inhibited by a white controlled society". Foreword by Lena Wright Myers, Jackson State (Mississippi) University.
[REF Z1361.N39D355 Stored].

Davis Nathaniel. AFRO-AMERICAN REFERENCE: AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SELECTED RESOURCES. Compiled and edited by Nathaniel Davis. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, [c1985]. (Bibliographies and Indexes in Afro-American and African Studies, Number 9). Intent is for academic as well as public library users, with emphasis on African Americans in the United States covering the entire scope of Afro-American studies
[REF Z1361.N39D37 1985 Stacks].

EARLY BLACK BIBLIOGRAPHIES, 1863-1918. Compiled by Betty Kaplan Gubert. New York; London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1982. (Critical Studies on Black Life and Culture; V.25. Garland Reference Library of Social Science; V.103). Includes "... nineteen old, rare and out-of-print bibliographies on Afro-Americana", of varying length and form whose purpose is "... to make available to researchers, scholars, librarians, teachers, and students the sources of early information by and about black people".
[REF Z1361.N39E25 1982 Stored].

Howard University Libraries. DICTIONARY CATALOG OF THE ARTHUR B. SPINGARN COLLECTION OF NEGRO AUTHORS. Boston, Mass: G.K. Hall, 1970. 2vols: V.1=A-K; V.2=L-Z, & Music Catalog.
[REF Z12361.N39H78 Refrm].

[REF Z1361.N39H82 Refrm].

Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature and History. DICTIONARY CATALOG OF THE SCHOMBURG COLLECTION OF NEGRO LITERATURE & HISTORY. Boston:G.K. Hall. Collections of the Research Libraries of the New York Public Library.
[REF Z881.N592S35 Refrm].

__________.__________. First supplement. 2vols. Boston:G.K. Hall, 1967. Collections of the Research Libraries of the New York Public Library.
[REF Z881.N592S36 1967 Refrm].

__________.__________. Second supplement. Boston:G.K. Hall, 1972. 4vols. Collections of the New York Public Library
[Z881.N592S36 1972 Refrm].

Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture. BIBLIOGRAPHIC GUIDE TO BLACK STUDIES. Boston:G.K. Hall, 1975- . Annual updates of the publications - all formats and languages - cataloged by the Research Libraries of the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.
[REF Z881.N492S37 Refrm=1987-1996; Stacks=1975-86].
Together with the previous entries (Moorland and Spingarn collections at Howard University), the Schomburg collections represent the two major collections of African and African American material in the world. The bibliographies list books, as well as periodical articles, pamphlets, etc. . Authors, titles and subjects are listed in one alphabet, and contain materials available sometimes only in these collections.

Smith, Dwight. AFRO-AMERICAN HISTORY; A BIBLIOGRAPHY. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC - Clio [1974-81]. 2v. "A selection of abstracts from America, History and Life and Historical Abstracts ".
[REF Z1361.N39S56 Stacks].

Work, Monroe N. A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE NEGRO IN AFRICA AND AMERICA. N.Y.:Octagon Books, 1965 [c1928]. "... a select reference bibliography on the Negro with more than 17,000 entries covering the most worthwhile publications (books, pamphlets and periodical articles) in different languages issued before 1928". Compiler was assisted in his endeavor by the Phelps-Stokes fund and the Tuskegee Institute (Tuskegee, Ala.).
[REF Z1361.N39W8 1965b Stacks; Stored=2 copies:1=circ, 1=non-circ].

     (Information on the life/work of individuals)

     (Biographical information on African American women. The sources cited will be those that include a collection of African American women, rather than specific or individual women). Subject headings: Afro-American women - Biography; and related: Afro-Americans - Biography. If biographical information on a specific/individual woman is needed, the name of the person--last name first--is the subject heading to use.

AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN, A BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY. N.Y. & London: Garland Pub., 1993. Dorothy C. Salem, editor. A source for all readers about "... women who made meaniful, though largely unhearled, contributions to American history and culture... women who have made significant contributions to social reform, politics, arts and entertain-ment, religion, business, education, and the professions from the Colonial era to the present". NOT "biographical outlines ...sketches"; entrants’ "significance" and" works", as well as herself, are paramount in these summaries/descriptions. This source "... seeks to clarify, supplement, consolidate and condense information that appears in limited form in the related biographical dictionaries, bibliographical indices, and almanacs". Includes selected bibliography and index.
[REF E185.96.A45 1993 Refrm].

BLACK WOMEN IN AMERICA: AN HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA. Darlene Clark Hine, editor. 2v. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Pub., 1993."... 804 entries, 641... biographies of individual Black women... 163 of which deal with general topics and organizations". Entries are " of individuals who played a role on the national stage or who made national news" ; as well as some "prominent only in their communities, but are typical of women throughout the country ". Selection for inclusion was on those"whom information could not easily be found in other reference books", and Black women’s organizations, as well as Black organizations which Black women played a central part... which also played a central part in Black women’s history".
[REF E185.86.B542 1993 Refrm].

Bolden, Tonya. THE BOOK OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN; 150 CRUSADERS, CREATORS, AND UPLIFTERS. Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Media Corp. [1996]. Entrants are" from the seventeenth century onward", many"... were or are the first of their race, gender, or both to achieve a certain goal".
[REF E185.96.B568 1996 Refrm].

EPIC LIVES: ONE HUNDRED BLACK WOMEN WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE. Jessie Carney Smith, editor. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink Press, c1993. "(Strong Black women)... who helped to shape our people and our country".
[REF E185.96.E64 1993 Refrm].

Green, Mildred Denby. BLACK WOMEN COMPOSERS: A GENESIS. Boston, Mass.: Twayne Pub. [c1983]. "... works ["only published compositions which represent the composers’ styles"] of Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, Julia Perry, Evelyn Pittman, and Lena McLinn..." analyzed.
[REF ML390.G83 1983 Refrm].

NOTABLE BLACK AMERICAN WOMEN. Jessie Carney Smith, editor. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, [c1992 & c1996]. A compilation of biographies of Black American women who were "... the abolitionists, educators, doctors, journalists, writers, and women of many other professions... in two volumes. The first volume was published in 1992, with Book II published in 1996. There are eight hundred entries total in both volumes. No attempt was made to include "... all the most important ... (or) famous African American women". The aim of all those involved in publishing this source "... was to give, the reader an important assemblage of women who are diverse by geography, history and professions". Criteria for inclusion (a woman would be selected if she met one or more of the criteria) is cited in the Introduction. Bibliographical sources and Index included.
[REF E185.96.N68 1992 Refrm; REF E185.96.N68 1996 Refrm].

Werner, Craig. BLACK AMERICAN WOMEN, AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press [c1989]. Please see annotation under BIBLIOGRAPHY - SPECIAL section.
[REF PS153.N5W47 1989 Refrm].

B. GENERAL      (Biographies about African Americans) Subject headings: Afro-Americans - Biography.

BIOGRAPHY INDEX: A CUMULATIVE INDEX TO BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL IN BOOKS AND MAGAZINES. New York: H.W. Wilson, Co. [V.1 Jan.1946/Jly. 1949- ]. An annual biographical source including: "... obituaries, collections of letters, diaries, memoirs, juvenile literature, book reviews and bibliographies, (as well as)... material appearing in periodicals indexed in other Wilson Company indexes, selected additional periodicals, current books of individual and collective biography, and incidental biographical material in otherwise non Geographical books". All entries "unless otherwise indicated" are those of citizens of the United States.
[REF Z5301.B56 Refrm].

CONTEMPORARY BLACK BIOGRAPHY; PROFILES FROM THE INTERNATIONAL BLACK COMMUNITY. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc. [c1992]. Although the biographical profiles included are those "... of the important and influential persons of African heritage who form international black community:men and women who have changed today’s world and are shaping tomorrow’s...", the majority are those from the United States. At present there are 5 volumes [v.5=c1994]. Cumulative indexes: Nationality, Occupation, Subject, and Name. Includes: "vital personal statistics, career information, major awards, mailing address (if known), ... photographs, portraits", as well as bibliographical sources where additional biographical information may be found.
[REF E186.96.C66 Refrm].

DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NEGRO BIOGRAPHY. Rayford W. Logan & Michael R. Winston, editors. New York:London: Norton [c1982]. Intent was to compile "... a comprehensive biographical dictionary based on scholarly research". Does not include "living persons", nor individuals whose careers had not received attention nor publication from scholars prior to January 1, 1970. Historical significance IS the primary criteria for inclusion.
[REF E185.96.D53 1982 Refrm].

Hawkins, Walter L. AFRICAN AMERICAN BIOGRAPHIES; PROFILES OF 558 CURRENT MEN AND WOMEN. Jefferson, North Carolina:McFarland & Co. [c1992]. The profiles are those who: "... were born or spent their childhood years in the United States (a few biographies were included if they spent "... most of their adult lives in the United States"); played an important role in the development of African American children (i.e. role model)". If an individual died in the year 1968, or before, that individual is not included. Additional criteria for inclusion includes: "notable athletic achievements and records"; first African American in ..., or selection to any hall of fame.
[REF E185.96.H38 1992 Refrm].

Spradling, Mary Mace. IN BLACK AND WHITE; A GUIDE TO MAGAZINE ARTICLES, NEWSPAPER ARTICLES AND BOOKS CONCERNING MORE THAN 6700 BLACK INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS. 3rd ed. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., c1985. Earlier editions of this sources are: 1971 and 1976 (2d ed). Both, as well as this third edition, are guides to materials in the Kalamazoo (MI) Library System, and makes no claim to be exhaustive or complete. Popular entertainers, athletes, as well as scholars and other professionals are included. Information included: birth and death dates, occupation, and a bibliography from which the information listed was obtained.
[REF Z1361.N39S655 1980 Refrm].


(The term "periodical" refers to both popular magazines indexed in the Reader’s Guide To Periodical Literature, such as " Time", "Newsweek", "Ebony", etc.; and scholarly/academic/academic /professional journals such as "CLA Journal", "Journal of Black Education", etc.). The Library subscribes to a majority of the major print periodical and newspaper indexes. Additionally, access is also available to online databases (indexes). In general, these indexes/databases use similar subject headings as those used when searching for books in the online catalog [GEAC]. An exception is the heading " Black women" or "African American" - used by the periodical/newspaper indexes or online databases - instead of " Afro-American women" used while using/searching the online catalog [GEAC]. The following list of periodical indexes is but a few suggestions to be used while researching "African American women" in periodicals/journals. Please remember that when you have consulted the periodical indexes/databases and obtained citations (i.e. titles/authors of articles, as well as names of periodicals with volume/page numbers and date of issues, it will still be necessary to ascertain whether the Library has subscribed to the periodical title/s wherein the desired articles will be found. To obtain this information one needs to consult the one volume List of Periodicals, Serials and Newspapers located throughout the Library, or again by using the title of the periodical (rather than title of the article) at the GEAC terminals.


AMERICA, HISTORY AND LIFE. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC CLIO 19??- [REF Z1236.A48 V.0-31 1974-1994 Not currently received=Stacks]. 1974- also accessed under Social Sciences and Education section from the Library’s homepage.

ART INDEX. New York, A.W. Wilson 1- 1929/32- [REF Z5937.A7 Refrm]. Similar online databases are: Art Index and Art Abstracts, two First Search II databases.

BUSINESS PERIODICAL INDEX. New York, H.W. Wilson Co. 1958/59- [REF Z7164.C81.B983 Refrm=1986/87- ; Stacks=1958/59-1990/91; Stored=1958/59-1981/82]. Business Index, an Infotrac database, is a similar online index for trade/professional/academic journals in the field of business.

EDUCATION INDEX. New York, H.W. Wilson Co. 1929/32- [REF Z5813.E23 Refrm=1985/86- ; Stacks=1947/50-1983/84; Stored=1929/32-1977/78]. An online database, Eric, can be accessed 1976- under the Social Sciences and Education section, and First Search I from the Library’s homepage.

HUMANITIES INDEX. V.1- June 1974- [Bronx, N.Y., H.W. Wilson Co.]. [REF AI3.I6 Refrm]. An online version (CD ROM) is accessed from the Library’s homepage under the Arts and Humanities section. Humanities Abstracts, a First Search I database is similar.

INDEX TO PERIODICAL ARTICLES BY AND ABOUT BLACKS. Boston, G.K. Hall 1973-83 ceased. [REF AI3.O4 Refrm]. Earlier title: INDEX TO PERIODICAL ARTICLES BY AND ABOUT NEGROES. Boston, G.K. Hall 1966-73 ceased.
[REF AI3.O4 Refrm=1960-70 cum.; 1971 & 1972; Stored=1960-70 cum., also 1966-1969 & 1971-1972].

INTERNATIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THEATRE (IBT). 1982- [Brooklyn, N.Y.]: Theatre Research Data Center, Brooklyn College, City University of New York; New York, N.Y.: Distributed by the Publishing Center for Cultural Resources
[REF PN1561.157 Refrm].

[REF Z7006.M64 Refrm=1921/25-1992 Not currently received]. Accessible online also as a First Search I database.

MUSIC INDEX. Detroit Information Coordinators [etc.]. 1949- [REF ML118.M84 Refrm].


SOCIAL SCIENCES INDEX. New York, H.W. Wilson Co. 1974/75- [REF AI3.I62 Refrm=1974/75-1994/95. Not currently received]. Also accessed from Library’s homepage under Social Sciences and Education section=CD ROM version 1983- ; and also as a First Search I database.


AMERICA, HISTORY, AND LIFE. 1979- . Accessed under the Social Sciences and Education section on the Library’s homepage.

ERIC. 1982- . Accessed from the Library’s homepage under Social Sciences and Education, First Search I, and Web version 1976- .

FIRST SEARCH I and II. First Search I databases include: WorldCat, ERIC, Humanities Abs, MLA, Read Guide Abs, Soci Abs. First Search II databases include: Art Index, RILM, Art Abstracts, Biography Index.

HUMANITIES INDEX. CD ROM version accessed from Library’s homepage under Arts and Humanities. Similarly Humanities Abstracts is a First Search I database.

INFOTRAC. CD ROM and Web versions accessed under General (Multi Subject) and Business sections.

  1. Business Index database used for subjects in business/management/marketing, etc. is accessed under Business.
  2. Expanded Academic ASAP. This Infotrac database is not the general one as found in many public libraries, but does include some of the same general titles. It's focus is, for the most part, on those academic/scholarly/professional journals found in college or university libraries.

SOCIAL SCIENCES INDEX. CD ROM version 1983-June 1997 accessed from Library’s homepage under Social Sciences and Education; also a First Search I database.


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