African American Periodicals, 1825-1995
An Archive of Americana Collection
...access to little-known treasures of the Black press; for the first time researchers around the world will gain a full awareness of their content.
Kathleen E. Bethel, African American Studies Librarian, Northwestern University Library

Quick Facts

  • Explore crucial facets of the African American experience through more than 170 wide-ranging periodicals
  • Rare titles—many short-lived and not collected by most libraries—brim with surprises and untold stories
  • Based upon James P. Danky’s monumental bibliography African-American Newspapers and Periodicals

Overview

African American Periodicals, 1825-1995, features more than 170 wide-ranging periodicals by and about African Americans. Published in 26 states, the publications include academic and political journals, commercial magazines, institutional newsletters, organizations bulletins, annual reports and other genres. These diverse periodicals—which have shaped, and in turn been shaped by, African American culture—will enable new discoveries on lives of African Americans as individuals, as an ethnic group and as Americans.

From Slavery to the Modern Era
Like African American Newspapers, 1827-1998, this new collection is based upon James P. Danky’s monumental African-American Newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography (Harvard, 1998). Drawn from the matchless holdings of the Wisconsin Historical Society, African American Periodicals ranges over more than 150 years of American life, from slavery during the Antebellum Period to the struggles and triumphs of the modern era. Editorial views from the pages of these periodicals include opinions on the abolitionist movement; “Jim Crow” segregation; African American achievements in literature, music, sports and science; the beginning of the Freedom Movement; the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968; and more.

The voices of African American society and culture
Featuring news, commentary, advertisements, literature, drawings and photographs, the titles in this unique resource include African Repository, El Mulato, The Black Warrior, Pennsylvania Freedmen’s Bulletin, Colored Harvest, Voice of the Negro, Horizon: A Journal of the Color Line, The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races, Blue Helmet: A Magazine for the American Negro Soldier of All Wars, Harlem Pointer, African World, Black Pride Newsletter, Right On! and others from every region of the United States.

Beyond offering opinions on issues and events of the day, the rare titles in African American Periodicals capture the voice of African American society and culture. The publications brought together here—many short-lived and not collected by most libraries—brim with surprises and untold stories.

An America’s Historical Periodicals/Archive of Americana collection
Forming the largest database of its kind, African American Periodicals is the inaugural America’s Historical Periodicals collection. For the broadest coverage available of African American history, culture and daily life, this new collection can be cross-searched with African American Newspapers, Afro-Americana Imprints and other Archive of Americana collections.

Accolades

“Enhancing the Archive of Americana with African American Periodicals will do more than provide access to little-known treasures of the Black press; for the first time researchers around the world will gain a full awareness of their content.”
— Kathleen E. Bethel, African American Studies Librarian, Northwestern University Library

 

“The new Readex African American Periodicals collection makes widely available one of the most important archives for studying African American social, political, religious, military, literary and business history. This collection will allow students and scholars to understand black history not only in the American context, but investigate its transnational dimensions as well. Covering the 19th century to the present, the richness of this collection is unparalleled."
— Phillip Luke Sinitiere, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History, Sam Houston State University

Notable Titles

Reflecting 170 years of the African American experience, African American Periodicals, 1825-1995 features more than 170 wide-ranging periodicals from 26 states. These publications—including many rare and historically significant 19th and 20th century titles—offer wide-ranging coverage of African American history, culture and society. Key titles include:

African Repository (Washington, DC)
One of the earliest and most influential African American publications, African Repository contained articles on slavery and emancipation, colonization and Liberia, and dispatches stressing the prosperity and steady growth of the African colonies. It was published by the American Colonization Society, which was formed in 1817 to promote sending free African Americans to Africa as an alternative to emancipation in the United States.
• Includes 683 issues published between 1825 and 1892

Mirror of Liberty (New York, New York)
The first magazine-type publication edited and owned by an African American and aimed at black readers, Mirror of Liberty was printed sporadically in New York City. Published by acclaimed African American abolitionist David Ruggles from 1838 to 1840, it championed, among other issues, trials by jury for blacks accused of being runaway slaves.
• Includes three issues published between 1838 and 1840

Pennsylvania Freedman’s Bulletin (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)The Bulletin was published by the Pennsylvania Freedman’s Relief Association, which sent teachers, books and supplies into the South. Its goal was to mobilize financial and political support for new schools and new jobs for freed slaves in the former Confederate states.
• Includes three issues published between 1865 and 1868

Southern Workman (Hampton, Virginia)
Published by the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, Southern Workman described itself as a magazine “devoted to the interests of the black and red races of this country, and to the work done for them at this school … It contains direct reports from the heart of Negro and Indian populations with pictures of reservation, cabin and plantation life.”
• Includes 128 issues published between 1881 and 1900

Storer Record (Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia)
The Record was the student newspaper of Storer College. Founded in 1867 by Freewill Baptists “for the education of freedmen and women,” Storer College was the site of the first public meeting in America of W.E.B. Du Bois's Niagara Movement, a cornerstone of the modern civil rights movement.
• Includes 125 issues published between 1892 and 1931

The Voice of the Negro (Atlanta, Georgia)
A literary journal aimed at a national audience of African Americans, The Voice of the Negro was published from 1904 to 1907. It published writings by Booker T. Washington, as well as a younger generation of black activists and intellectuals, including W.E.B. Du Bois, John Hope, Kelly Miller, Mary Church Terrell and William Pickens. It also featured poetry by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, James D. Corrothers and Douglas Johnson.
• Includes 38 issues published between 1904 and 1907

Colored American Magazine (Boston, Massachusetts)
One of the most prominent vehicles for black intellectual, artistic, and political expression during the first decade of the 20th century, The Colored American was edited by Pauline Hopkins, African American novelist, playwright and journalist. The magazine’s masthead read: “An Illustrated Monthly Devoted to Literature, Science, Music, Architecture, Facts, Fiction, and Traditions of the Negro Race.”
• Includes 107 issues published between 1900 and 1909

Horizon: A Journal of the Color Line (Washington, DC)
Edited by W.E.B. Du Bois, The Horizon was the precursor to The Crisis—Du Bois‟ groundbreaking publication for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. However, The Horizon was a very different publication in that it functioned as an aggregator of news from other sources, as well as an outlet for its editors‟ views. It had three main sections: “The In-Look” was a digest of the “Negro-American press,” “The Out-Look” was a digest of the periodical press, and “The Over-Look” was a digest of opinions and general catch-all for books, political discussions and the views of Du Bois and his editors. It ceased publication in 1910 when Du Bois started The Crisis.
Includes 30 issues published between 1907 and 1910

The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races (New York, New York)
The official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The Crisis was founded by W.E.B. Du Bois in 1910 and is widely considered one of the most important African American publications of the 20th century. Primarily a current-affairs journal promoting the NAACP's liberal program of social reform and racial equality, The Crisis also included poems, reviews and essays on culture and history. “The object of this publication,” Du Bois wrote, “is to set forth those facts and arguments which show the danger of race prejudice, particularly as manifested today toward colored people. It takes its name from the fact that the editors believe that this is a critical time in the history of the advancement of men.”
• Includes 96 issues published between 1910 and 1920

Messenger: New Opinion of the Negro (New York, New York)
Founded by A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen in 1917, Messenger was one of the most influential and controversial African American publications of the early 20th century. As a literary journal it played a crucial role in the flowering of the Harlem Renaissance. Langston Hughes published his first stories here, and other contributors included Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, Arna Bontemps and Wallace Thurman. As a political journal, the Messenger espoused a more radical civil rights philosophy than its predecessors; it harshly criticized Marcus Garvey's “return to Africa” movement, supported the Socialist Party and opposed America’s entry into World War I. Messenger was both respected and feared, especially by the U.S. government; a 1919 Justice Department memo called it “the most able and the most dangerous of all Negro publications.”
• Includes 101 issues published between 1917 and 1928

The Black Worker (New York, New York)
The Black Worker was published by the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP), the labor organization founded by A. Philip Randolph in 1925. In 1928 Randolph ceased publishing the Messenger, and in 1929 created The Black Worker to represent the views of the BSCP, whose 7,300 members constituted the largest single block of organized African American workers in America. Randolph used The Black Worker to break down barriers of animosity between black and white workers. He was dramatically successful: In 1955 Randolph became vice president of the newly merged AFL-CIO, and used his power, and The Black Worker, to push for desegregation within the labor movement and in wider society. Randolph’s success culminated in his 1963 March on Washington, at which Martin Luther King gave the “I Have a Dream” speech.
• Includes 357 issues published between 1929 and 1968

The Liberator (New York, New York)
The Liberator was a bi-weekly newspaper published by The League of Struggle for Negro Rights, the civil rights wing of the American Communist Party. Like many other civil rights publications, it campaigned against lynching, tenant evictions, Jim Crow segregation and other manifestations of racial injustice, but it also proposed more radical, Party-inspired programs, including land redistribution in the South and the creation of a sovereign African American nation-state in the “Black Belt.” The Liberator, which carried on a contentious feud with more mainstream civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and Urban League, offers scholars a detailed account of how the communist movement related to the civil rights movement during the wrenching era of the Great Depression.
• Includes 76 issues published between 1929 and 1932

The Negro Actors Guild of America Newsletter (New York, New York)
The Negro Actors Guild was established in 1936 in New York City as a welfare and benevolent organization for black performers. The Guild’s newsletter serves as a resource for information about black entertainment in the fields of acting, music, dance, theater, film and television, principally in the United States, but also in England.
• Includes 120 issues published between 1940 and 1978

The Negro: A Review (St. Louis, Missouri)
Billed as “America’s Best Negro Monthly,” The Negro: A Review contained articles, illustrations, advertisements and short stories. Edited by Frederick Bond in St. Louis, it was one of the only general interest African American magazines published in the Midwest during World War II.
• Includes 34 issues published between 1943 and 1948

Beauty Trade (New York, New York)
A monthly magazine published by Willa Lee and Bernice Calvin, Beauty Trade covered consumer and industry trends in fashion, cosmetics, beauty and hair styling. Spanning 24 years, this is thought to be the longest extant run of Beauty Trade, one of the most successful African American publications in the genre during this period.
• Includes 96 issues published between 1954 and 1978

Black Panther (San Francisco, California)
Black Panther was the official newspaper of the Black Panther Party, the African American revolutionary organization that achieved national and international notoriety during the 1960s and „70s. First circulated in 1967, the paper achieved a peak circulation of 250,000 under the editorial leadership of Eldridge Cleaver.
• Includes 358 issues published between 1967 and 1975

New Negro Traveler and Conventioneer (Chicago, Illinois)
Published by Clarence Markham, Jr., a former Pullman porter who founded his travel-related enterprises in 1942, the New Negro Traveler and Conventioneer was published bi-monthly and covered travel, transportation and the convention business as each related to African Americans during this era.
• Includes 21 issues published between 1968 and 1976

Sepia (Fort Worth, Texas)
An ambitious and successful photojournalistic monthly, Sepia profiled the lives and achievements of African Americans. Although it highlighted entertainment, lifestyle and music, Sepia also featured in-depth civil rights articles and serious investigative journalism.
• Includes 24 issues published between 1980 and 1981

African World (Greensboro, North Carolina)
Published first by the Student Organization for Black Unity, African World described itself as the “Voice of the Revolutionary Pan-African Youth Movement in the Americas.” It contained articles and photographs covering civil rights, the youth movement, prison abuse and the exploitation of African American workers. Its founders later helped form, and publicize, the February First Movement, the civil rights group named for the date in 1960 when four African American students asserted their right to sit at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.
• Includes 65 issues published between 1971 and 1975

Black Careers (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
A bi-monthly journal that did much to educate African American job-seekers about the importance of Equal Opportunity Employment legislation, Black Careers contained articles on employment trends, educational opportunities and discrimination in employment. It was also popular with teachers in inner city schools due to its profiles of role models from the African American business community.
• Includes 23 issues published between 1977 and 1982

Reviews

"The decisions involved in the digital presentation of periodicals are numerous and challenging. Readex deserves commendation for its choices. As users of African American Periodicals overcome the learning curve associated with exploring the interface, they will appreciate the database's many options. For those wanting an overview, the landing page presents a choice of Eras in American History and U.S. Presidential Eras. The specific historical eras covered are Slavery and Antebellum Era, U.S. Civil War, Reconstruction and Post War South, Segregation and the Rise of Black Protest Thought, African American Culture in the New Era, Civil Rights Era, the Second Reconstruction, and Modern/Contemporary Era. Presidential eras range from John Q. Adams to Gerald Ford. The database offers both simple keyword searching and advanced searching, with Boolean operators and various limits. Searching journals, magazines, newsletters, and related periodicals entails delineating the various sections, for example, News/Opinion, Book Reviews, Letters, Advertisements, Death Notices, Front Page, and more. Here users may use check boxes to limit their searches to specific sections. 

"African American Periodicals also offers the option of searching by Dates and Eras and by Place of Publication. Searchers can specify exact dates--a wonderful option since a search may be necessary for a specific period, for example, immediately following a trial or concert. The Periodical Titles tab allows users to review the 170-plus titles included, and a useful calendar presents the exact dates of publication. The number of issues for the various periodicals varies from one to nearly 700, with African Repository (1825-92) having the greatest number of issues. Other well-known titles include The Black Worker, The Liberator, and Mirror of Liberty. Users may also browse Periodical Topics, ranging from Arts to Sports and Recreation. Those who perform keyword searches will find their search term(s) highlighted in the newspaper text, a helpful feature when deciding whether to view the entire article or issue. Options include e-mailing or printing an article, exporting citations, zooming in on text, downloading PDFs, bookmarking articles to add to a personal collection, and consulting a Help section. This periodical database supports an important subject area and time period. It is designed so that both novices and reasonably sophisticated researchers can find what they need. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners." 

-- C. Williams, CUNY Hunter College, in Choice (February 2013)

 
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