Free Black History Month Databases Available on BPL Website

Black History Month 2023 began today, Wednesday, February 1. If you are a high school or college student working on a research paper - or a patron who just wants to learn more about African-American history, there are plenty of free online resources available for free via the Birmingham Public Library's website

 These resources can be accessed from our BPL databases page by selecting "African American" from the left side of the screen. 

You may be interested in knowing we have recently added online access to the National Museum of African American History & Culture. 

In addition, there are resources available through the Alabama Public Library Service(APLS) and the Alabama Virtual library(AVL). 

Here is a list of African American Resources available at BPL. Note: All of these databases are available in each of our library locations unless noted, as well as from home or any smart device, computer or laptop online. You can use any JCLC/BPL library card to access each of these databases.  

 African American Revolutionaries in the Atlantic World: Struggles for Liberty

This learning resource shares stories of the struggles for liberty in the lifelong fight for social justice of African American freedom-fighters in the USA, Britain and Ireland in the 19th century. Their histories are told to us through books, letters, photographs and other original documents held in the National Library of Scotland and the Walter O. and Linda Evans Foundation collection and in international library holdings. 

African American Studies Center 

The Oxford African American Studies Center provides students, teachers, and scholars with an authoritative and comprehensive source on the African American experience. The site is comprised of five major encyclopedias and content from eighteen additional reference sources from Oxford University Press, including more than 8,000 articles by top scholars in the field. The Oxford African American Studies Center combines the authority of carefully edited reference works with sophisticated technology to create the most comprehensive collection of scholarship available online to focus on the lives and events which have shaped African American and African history and culture.

African-American History Online

African-American History Online covers topics such as affirmative action, Africa, black nationalism, civil rights, emancipation, free blacks, the Harlem Renaissance, migrations, racial violence and hate crimes, religion, slave living conditions, slave liberation strategies, social work and philanthropy, sports, and visual arts. 

Birmingham Black Barons

The Birmingham Black Barons, one of the most successful baseball teams in the Negro Leagues, played from the 1920s until the 1950s. The team played their home games at Rickwood Field. This database is a keyword index to articles that appeared in local newspapers including the Birmingham News and the Birmingham World. The Government Documents Department of the Birmingham Public Library is compiling this database.

Birmingham Black Radio Museum

The Birmingham Black Radio Museum chronicles and catalogs the history of Black radio in Birmingham from the mid 1930’s through the 1980’s. BBRM creates and makes available an interactive web-based archive for researchers and the public and develops exhibition spaces for the BBRM collection and research center at the historic Carver Theatre, also the home of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in downtown Birmingham. 

Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Organizational Records and Personal Paper: History Vault

 The Organizational Records and Personal Papers bring a new perspective to the Black Freedom Struggle via the records of major civil rights organizations and personal papers of leaders and observers of the 20th century Black freedom struggle. The three major civil rights organizations are the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.

Papers of civil rights leaders included in this module are those of the civil rights and labor leader A. Philip Randolph; the long-time civil rights activist and organizer of the March on Washington, Bayard Rustin, and the papers of the pioneering educator Mary McLeod Bethune. Through records of Claude A. Barnett’s Associated Negro Press, this module also branches out to cover other aspects of African American life in the 20th century, like religion, sports, education, fraternal organizations, and even the field of entertainment.

A second part of this resource is highlighted by the records of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Africa-related papers of Claude Barnett, and the Robert F. Williams Papers. SNCC, formed by student activists in 1960 after the explosion of the sit-in movement, was one of the three most important civil rights organizations of the 1960s, alongside SCLC and the NAACP. 

With the addition of SNCC records, History Vault now includes SNCC, SCLC, and NAACP records. Rounding out this module are the papers of Chicago Congressman Arthur W. Mitchell, the Chicago chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, and records pertaining to the Mississippi Freedom Summer.

 Black Life in America 

The experience and impact of African Americans as recorded by the news media 1704 through today.

 Contemporary Black Biography

Informative biographical profiles of the important and influential persons of African American and/or black heritage. Covers persons of various nationalities in a wide variety of fields, including architecture, art, business, dance, education, fashion, film, industry, journalism, law, literature, medicine, music, politics and government, publishing, religion, science and technology, social issues, sports, television, theater, and others.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture 

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture's Searchable Museum: A place to explore history and culture through an African American lens.

By Caleb West|BPL Collection Management