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Africana Studies

This guide provides research tips for Africana Studies students at University of Northern Colorado.

AANB Project

AFS 310

Resources for your Final Project:  African American National Biography


CONTACT INFO:  Wendy Highby, 970-351-1530,






We have both print and online formats of the African American National Biography at Michener Library.  Print is located on first floor Michener reference at E185.96 .A4466 2008 (8 vols.).  Online format is accessible in the Oxford African American Studies Center at (or link from the Articles & More page (alpha list under “A” or “O”)).


Available entries:


The following steps don’t have to be done in this exact order, but each one should be tried.


Your first step:

Search for the person in the Biography and Genealogy Master Index (BGMI)—this is a comprehensive index to biographical sketches in reference books. (Link from the “Databases A to Z” page


Then locate the reference sources indexed in the BGMI.  Many are in the reference section (1st floor), some in stacks (2nd & 3rd floors).  Use Prospector or interlibrary loan to request the ones we don’t have here. 


Second step:

If the person is deceased, locate obituary in national and/or local newspapers.  Try some of the following online newspaper indexes (choice depends upon date and location of death, prominence of subject, etc.); link from the Articles & More page (alpha list) to the following:


African American Newspapers, 1827-1998

New York Times


Google the url of the subject’s local newspaper once you have an idea of subject’s hometown or place of death.  Search the archive. If you can’t link from the citation to free full text, submit an interlibrary loan request.


Finally, try genealogists’ obituary search engines, such as:


Third step: 

Search in several article indexes:


Academic Search Premier is a good general index.


Search specialized indexes as appropriate; for example, use the International Index to Music Periodicals if your subject is a musician.  For other specialized indexes see the Databases A to Z page 


For older article indexes, see:


Kaiser Index to Black Resources, 1948-1986 located in Michener Reference at E185 .K25 1992, v. 1-5


Readers Guide Retrospective (online)


Fourth step:

Search in these book catalogs:


UNC Libraries' catalog, the Source


Prospector, the statewide library catalog


WorldCata catalog of books and other materials from libraries worldwide


Google books:


Fifth step:

Seek local sources (from the subject’s hometown) such as libraries, archives, historical societies, newspapers, family & friends of the subject, genealogy sites:


Denver's Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library (University of Washington, Quintard Taylor), an online reference center, lists major digitized archival holdings in African American history:


The Rocky Mountain Online Archive is a source of information about archival collections in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming:


Cyndi’s List points to many sources of African American genealogical information:


Sixth step:


Do a Google search for clues/sources, then carefully verify the source—is it reputable?  These websites suggest criteria for evaluating reliability of websites: