History 30, Winter 2008

History 30, Winter 2008

African Culture in US History

Background Sources
Specialized handbooks, encyclopedias and dictionaries can provide quick assistance.  Look at items near these call numbers for other potential titles.  Check with a Reference Librarian for help in locating additional materials.  Remember: the following titles are examples.  Perhaps there are other works that would be helpful for your specific topic.

General guides to the literature:
   The African Studies Companion: a guide to information sources.  3rd rev. and exp. ed.  Riv Ref DT19.8 A47 2003 
   The African Studies Companion: a resource guide and directory.  Riv Ref DE19.8 Z45 1997

   The Harvard Guide to African-American History.  Riv Ref E185 H326 2001
   African-American Culture and History: a student's guide.  4 vols.  Riv Ref E185 A2527 2001
   The Columbia Guide to African American History Since 1939.  Rivera E185.6 C647 2006

More specific sources:
    New Encyclopedia of Africa.  5 vol.  Riv Ref DT2 N48 2008
    Encyclopedia of African History.  3 vol.  Riv Ref DT20 E53 2005   

    Encyclopedia of American Cultural & Intellectural History.  3 vols. 
Riv Ref E169.1 E624 2001

   Black Women in America. 2nd ed.  3 vol.  Riv Ref E185.86 B542 2005 

   American Eras.  8 vols.  vol. 5 is "Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877", vol. 8 is "Development of the
      Industrial United
 States, 1878-1899".  Riv Ref E169.1 A471979 1997
   Encyclopedia of American History.  11 vols.  vol. 5 is "Civil War and Reconstruction, 1856 to 1869" and vol. 6
      "The Development of the Industrial United States, 1870 to 1899". 
Riv Ref E174 E53 2003
Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: from the colonial period to the age of Frederick
  3 vol. 
Riv Ref E185 E545 2006
   Slavery in the United States: a social, political, and historical encyclopedia.  2 vol. 
Riv Ref E441 S635 2007
   Freedom's Lawmakers: a directory of Black officeholders during Reconstruction 
Riv Ref E185.96 F64 1996
   Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery 
Riv Ref E441 D53 1997
   Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion.  2 vol. 
Riv Ref E447 E53 2007
   Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad  
Riv Ref E450 H855 2006
   Encyclopedia of the Reconstruction Era.  2 vol. 
Riv Ref E668 E53 2006
   Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  2 vol. 
Riv Ref HT1031 E53 2007
   Africa and the West: a documentary history from slave trade to independence.  Riv Ref DT353.5 E9 A34 2001 
   Shamanism: an encyclopedia of world beliefs, practices, and culture.  2 vol.  Riv Ref GN475.8 S445 2004 
   The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Folklore.  3 vol.  Riv Ref GR111 A47 G74 2006
   African Foklore: an encyclopedia.  Riv Ref GR350 A33 2004
   The Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in Art.  Riv Ref GR705 W47 2003
   Giants, Monsters, and Dragons; an encyclopedia of folklore, legend, and myth.  Riv Ref GR825 R67 2000
   Encyclopedia of American Folklife.  4 vol.  Riv Ref GR105 E53 2006

   Encyclopedia of African-American Literature.  Riv Ref PS153 N5 E48 2007
   Encyclopedia of African American Women Writers.  2 vol.  Riv Ref PS153 N5 E49 2007
   The Handbook of African American Literature.  Riv Ref PS153 N5 E78 2004
   The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature.  5 vol.  Riv Ref PS153 N5 G73 2005
   The Oxford Companion to African American Literature.  Riv Ref PS153 N5 O96 1997
   The Companion to African Literatures.  Riv Ref PR9340 C65 2000  (try "Oral Tradition and Folklore, West Africa")

   Encyclopedia of the Middle Passage.  Riv Ref HT1322 E63 2007
      "Benito Cereno (1855)" on pp 58-60 (also a bibliography)

   The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. 10 vol. Riv Ref ML100 G16 1998 (and Music Ref)
      Note: vol. 1 Africa (try hymns, rhythm and meter, timelines, West Africa, Ashanti People, African American Music...)
               vol. 2 South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
               vol. 3 The United States and Canada (check the index under gospel, hymns, hip hop, rap...)
               vol. 10 The World's Music: General Perspectives and Reference Tools
   Women and Music in America Since 1900; an encyclopedia.  2 vol.  Riv Ref ML82 W625 2002
   All Music Guide to Hip Hop: the definitive guide to rap & hip hop.  Riv Ref ML156.4 R27 A45 2003
   The Rough Guide to Hip-Hop.  Riv Ref ML3531 S33 2005
   Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip Hop Culture.  Rivera ML102 R27 B96 2006
   International Encyclopedia of Dance.  6 vol.  Riv Ref GV1585 I586 1998
      Check the index under "hip-hop" and "rap music".  Also check the cross references under the entry "African Dance Traditions".
      In vol. 6 look at "United States of America: African American Dance Traditions", "United States of America: African American Social Dance", and "West Africa".

   The Encyclopedia of African and African-American Religions.  Riv Ref BL2462.5 E53 2001

Search Strategy

  • Define your problem
  • Identify synonyms and keywords that describe your topic
  • Construct using 'boolean' operators







1. _________




2. _________




3. _________











  • OR broadens search results. Use it for synonyms representing a single aspect in the strategy above.
  • AND narrows search results. Use it to connect the different aspects in the strategy above.
      • * usually truncates the root word (some resources use different symbols, always check)

(oral tradition OR folktales OR folk tales OR storytelling)
(Ashanti* OR Yoruba* OR West Africa*)
(animal* OR trickster OR magic*) 

Excellent General Resources
   Oxford African American Studies Center (new)
   Black Studies Center (new) 

SCOTTY to find materials in the UCR Libraries, such as books and periodical titles, and to see if they are checked out.

For additional tips on using SCOTTY, click

Keyword: benito cereno (now compare it to a subject search: benito cereno)
               slave ship*  (* is the truncation symbol used in SCOTTY)
               african oral tradition

Subject: African American women,
Women - Southern States - History
(and all the variations, cross references, and subheadings) 
slave songs (No hits? Try "Search as Words")
Title: Hiphop Literacies
Limit/Sort: by
year, material type, language, etc...

Other useful subject headings to consider (check out the more specific subheadings, too):    
  Africa - Folklore
  Oral Tradition - Africa
  Dance - Africa, Dance - African ; Dance - Black
  Rap Music - History and Criticism
Slave Narratives - United States
  Slave Trade 
Slaves' Writings, American 
  Women Africa West

Look for books with bibliographies and references to extend your research further.  Sometimes an entire work is a bibliography.  For example, under the heading "Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) bibliography", is the title Reconstruction in the United States: an annotated bibliography.  Under the heading "Slavery United States History Sources" are the titles
Slave Testimony: two centuries of letters, speeches, interviews, and autobiographies and A Documentary History of Slavery in North America

  • The catalog for the entire UC system is called Melvyl.  


    Primary Sources
    Consider the electronic image, sound, and text resources available to you that are listed on our various pages under "Databases By Subject", e.g., "
    Images", "Music & the Arts", and the "Online Texts" portion of "History".  Be sure to check these titles and descriptions.  To name just a few:
    North American Women's Letters and Diaries
       In the First Person
       American Memory
    (Library of Congress)
       Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (Library of Congress)
    African American Song
       Black Drama

    Sometimes there are guides to these various resources.  For example,
       American Periodicals, 1741-1900: an index to the microfilm collections...
    Riv Ref Z6951 H65 [Note that this collection is also available full-text online.]
       American Diaries, an annotated bibliography of published American diaries and journals.  vol. 1 covers Diaries Written from 1492-1844. vol. 2 covers Diaries Written from 1845-1980
    Riv Ref Z5305 U5 A74 1983 
       Slavery, a bibliography and union list of the microform collection.  Materials in this guide/index are located at UC Santa Barbara. 
    Riv Ref Z7164 S6 M53 1980 

    At the UCR Libraries, newspapers will be found in paper (recent), microfilm, and electronic formats.  Most of the electronic newspaper indexes we carry will also offer electronic full-text of the newspaper articles.  Not all newspapers are available electronically, nor are all of them indexed.  To see what newspaper index databases UCR carries, go to the Libraries Home Page, click on "Databases by Subject", and select the category of
      For example:
    African American Newspapers
      Early American Newspapers, Series I, 1690-1876
      Historical Newspapers Online 
    (4 resources)
      Los Angeles Times
    New York Times
      Wall Street Journal
      London Times Digital Archive

     Note that newspaper articles are considered primary sources, whereas magazine and journal articles and books are considered secondary sources (unless they are interviews, reports of eyewitness accounts, autobiographies, or diaries, etc.).  

     Journals and Magazines
    Magazine and journal articles may be available in several formats: electronic, print, and, less commonly, in microformat (e.g., microfilm or microfiche).  Once you have your citations, to find the print versions of your articles, see the "Location of Materials" section below.  Electronic versions of articles might be available via a link in SCOTTY, a direct link from the various article index databases, or through the   UC-eLinks  button appearing next to the citation in an article index database.

    If you know the name of a resource you wish to use, you can go to the "Databases A-Z" list from the Libraries' web site.  Or, you can go to "
    Databases By Subject" and select the categories listed there.  Examine the resources in the following categories: "History", "Images", "Music and the Arts", "Women and Gender Studies", "Literature and Languages", "Ethnic Studies", "Philosophy and Religion"...  For example: 
    African-American Poetry, 1750-1900
       America: History and Life
       Anthropology Plus
       ARTbibliographies Modern
       Ethnic Newswatch
       Historical Abstracts
       International Index to Music Periodicals Full Text
       MLA International Bibliography 
       RIPM: Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals (1800-1950)
       Gerritsen Collection, Women's History Online, 1543-1945 

    Remote Access
    Scotty and Melvyl are freely accessible from home. 
    To utilize the Library's subscription databases, see
    Connect from Home

    Locate Materials (UCR), Borrow Items (Elsewhere), Technology in the Library 
    Arrangement of items in the library are usually: alphabetical, numeric, or by call number.  For most of the books, the Libraries uses the Library of Congress call number and classification system, sometimes referred to as "LC".  The call number is an address that tells you where the book is located.  (For practice with call numbers, go to the following links,
    basic and advanced.  Click here for an explanation of how to read a call number.)

    Periodicals (aka magazines and journals) are arranged in two major ways:  recent issues are in alphabetical order in the Current Periodicals Room (in Rivera, that's in the basement); older issues are in call number order interfiled with the books in the regular collection ("stacks").  Look for periodical titles at UCR in the SCOTTY catalog.

    Use a floor map to identify the location codes and call numbers within the libraries (available at public service desks), or click
    here to see the maps available on our web site (Rivera and Science).

    Remember: your UCR ID card is your library card.  Circulation Services can tell you about your borrowing privileges and local transactions.  Consult them to see if your UCR card will allow you borrowing privileges at other libraries.

    Interlibrary Loans is another service you can use for items UCR does not own.  For information about this service, click
    here.  Another similar service is LINK+.

    Follow this link for help with
    technology in the library, including printing, saving your documents on the public workstations, laptops (DCHP, wireless, and library laptops to check out), scanning, and more.

    Document Your Sources
    A word about
    Citing your work.   

    Get Help
    For information on the different ways you can get help, click here. 

  • JL 1/08

Last modified: 6/24/2011 5:00 PM by M. Yonezawa

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012
UCR Career Opportunities
Library Job Opportunities

UCR Library Information

Directions / Mailing Addresses
Tomás Rivera Library: (951) 827-3220
Orbach Science Library: (951) 827-3701
Music Library: (951) 827- 3137
Multimedia Library: (951) 827-5606

Related Links


UCR Libraries Facebook UCR Libraries Twitter UCR Libraries YouTube UCR Libraries News UCR Libraries Mobile Website