Africana Studies

Ottoman Map of Africa (ca. 1554), via Wikimedia Commons

Research Guide

Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective  research in Africana Studies.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

Personal Librarian:
Vani Natarajan
311 Milstein

Reference Sources

Finding Articles

If you aren't sure where to start searching , you might try the CLIO Find Articles search. It searches across multiple databases at once, but it also allows you to refine results by subject terms and format type. For a more focused and refined search, try a database---the ones listed below are especially recommended for Africana Studies research. 

  • Africa-Wide Information features citations and abstracts to books and journal articles in African Studies including content from the sources South African Studies, African Studies, and African HealthLine.
  • African E-Journals Project offers access to digitized, full-text articles from the following open access journals: Africa media review, African journal of political economy, African journal of political science, Critical arts, Glendora books supplement, Glendora review, Institute of African Studies research review, Journal of social development in Africa, Pula, Transformation, Utafiti and Zambezia
  • America: History and Life indexes literature covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. The database indexes journals from 1964 to present and includes citations and links to book and media reviews.
  • Black Studies Center combines Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, The HistoryMakers Videos and full transcripts for interviews with 100 contemporary African Americans, International Index to Black Periodicals (IIBP), historical black newspapers, Black Abolitionist Papers, and the Black Literature Index.
  • Ethnic News Watch has a full-text collection of newspapers, magazines and journals from ethnic, minority and indigenous press.
  • Historical Abstracts indexes citations and articles in world history, including African history, from 1450 to the present, with many in full text.
  • JSTOR includes page images of scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences, including many in African Studies. Coverage spans the mid-20th century to the present.
  • Proquest combines many unique databases in one platform. You can search all at once, or select the databases you'd like to search. Some examples:

    • Arts and Humanities Full Text features citations and abstracts from scholarly sources in the humanities, as well as lesser known specialized magazines. Many of the entries are available in full text. Documents covered include articles, interviews, obituaries, bibliographies, original works of fiction, drama and poetry, book reviews, and reviews of performances, recordings, and films.
    • MLA International Bibliography features citations and abstracts to scholarly articles on literature, language, linguistics, and folklore from around the world, with e-links to possible full text provided. Sources include periodicals, books, essay collections, working papers, proceedings, dissertations and bibliographies. Coverage spans 1923 to the present.
    • Periodicals Archive On line archives journals in humanities and social sciences from around the world, in full text. The collection includes 99 journals in Spanish. 

Finding Print and Media Materials

CLIO is the online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard College but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library.

The NYPL catalog searches the circulating and non-circulating research collections at the New York Public Library. 

WorldCat searches libraries worldwide.


Finding Primary Sources and Archival Collections

To search for archival collections and published primary sources physically located in the Columbia Libraries, including Barnard, try a CLIO catalog search. You can use the facet boxes on the results page to limit by date of creation/publication, format, genre, and more. 

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has a multitude of collections focusing on and related to African American, African diaspora, and African experiences. You can search their holdings using the NYPL Catalog and Mansucripts and Archives search pages. 

The databases and digital repositories listed below can also connect you to primary source materials. 

  • African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 covers African American newspapers from the antebellum era to the late twentieth century, with a particularly strong representation of papers from the Midwestern and the Southern United States.  
  • African Newspapers from the World Newspaper Archive includes newspapers published between 1800 and 1922 in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
  • African Online Digital Library features archival audio, video, images, and text, with strengths in West African and South African history
  • Aluka includes maps, interview transcripts, photographs, full text periodicals, pamphlets, and other primary sources, with a focus on Southern Africa.
  • ArchiveGrid is a searchable database of collection descriptions from thousands of archives, libraries, museums, and special collections around the world. Includes links to finding aids and contact information for arranging research visits.
  • Black Abolitionist Papers gathers and makes accessible primary sources African Americans actively involved in the movement to end slavery in the United States between 1830 and 1865. Content includes letters, speeches, editorials, articles, sermons, and essays.
  • Civil Rights Digital Library gathers primary sources on the US Civil Rights Movement from libraries, archives, museums, broadcasters, and others.
  • Digital Library of the Caribbean provides access to digitized versions of Caribbean cultural, historical and research materials currently held in archives, libraries, and private collections. Sources include photographs, maps, newspapers, legal materials, and more. 
  • Historical Black Newspapers provides full text and full-image articles from 20thcentury African American newspapers: Atlanta Daily World, Los Angeles Sentinel, New York Amsterdam News, Pittsburgh Courier, and The Chicago Defender. 
  • Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive collections of primary source documents on the transatlantic slave trade, the global movement for abolition, the legal, personal, and economic aspects of the slavery system, and the dynamics of emancipation in the U.S. as well as in Latin America, the Caribbean, and other regions. Sources include books, serials, manuscripts, and court records. 
  • Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000 includes 105 document projects and archives, along with over 53,000 pages of full text documents. Examples of movements covered: abolitionism, anti-war movements, civil rights, and reproductive justice.
  • Women and Social Movements International, 1840-present collects published and manuscript sources documenting women's activism around the world, from the nineteenth century onward. Sources include letters, memoirs, conference proceedings, pamphlets, books, and journal articles, among others.

Literary Sources in Full Text

These are available through the Alexander Street Press platform, a strong source for accessing the full text of novels, short stories, plays, poems, essays, and audiovisual recordings not easily accessible in print.