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African Americans and Reconstruction

Hope and Struggle, 1865-1883

A comprehensive survey of the black experience during this crucial period
Learn what makes this product unique
  • Nearly 1,400 fully searchable printed works covering the crucial post-Civil War period in African-American history
  • The most significant works by and about African Americans from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of Jim Crow
  • Fresh insight into the evolution of African-American culture, rights and daily life in a time of hopeful struggle

African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle provides nearly 1,400 fully searchable printed works essential for understanding the African-American struggle for identity from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of Jim Crow. In the period immediately following the 1865 ratification of the U.S. Constitution’s 13th Amendment—which definitively ended slavery throughout the United States—African Americans, whether once enslaved or always free, faced new challenges as a free people often surrounded by hostile whites.

Over the next 18 years—perhaps the most formative in African American history—newly freed blacks in the United States witnessed significant gains. Among them were full citizenship; assured voting rights (at least theoretically under the law); opportunities for the non-literate to learn to read and write; the right of former enslaved people to acquire the land of former owners; the right to participate in the political process; opportunities to find employment on their own; and the right to use public accommodations. These gains were protected by important legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1875, a federal law that, as written, guaranteed certain protections, but in practice was not universally enforced at local levels.

The raw material of African-American history across nearly 20 crucial years
This powerful digital resource brings together in a single place many of the most significant works by and about African Americans during a crucial period of hope and struggle. Capturing voices of, by, for, and about African Americans, this unique collection covers such critically important subjects as the development of African-American identity; descriptions of African-American life—both enslaved and free; slavery and race; eyewitness accounts of African-American life in the South, the North, and elsewhere; and official reports on the “progress” of African Americans. Also included are important works of African-American individuals and organizations and works of fiction, poetry and drama.

New opportunities for scholars, students and teachers
African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle offers a comprehensive survey of the black experience during the crucial post-Civil War period. Using this multifaceted digital collection researchers can easily uncover patterns of thought among the works and compare differing points of view comprehensively. Students will find numerous new topics for term papers, group study, and oral presentations, and teachers and faculty will discover multiple paths for classroom study. And by using helpful features such as “Suggested Searches,” users at all levels may drill into the content by topic, time period, theme, or subject matter.

The Library Company of Philadelphia and its Afro-Americana collection
The Library Company of Philadelphia is an independent research library specializing in American history and culture from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Both African Americans and Reconstruction and its companion collection, African Americans and Jim Crow, were created from the Library Company’s renowned collection of Afro-Americana, also available from Readex in digital form. The magisterial bibliography Afro-Americana 1553-1906 provides the bibliographic control for these collections.

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“...great value and appeal…”
“This wealth of varied materials will have value to scholars and students across the humanities.”
ccAdvisor (January 2018)
Areas of Study
This product supports the following subjects
African American Studies
American Studies
Ethnic Studies
US History
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Reviews & Accolades

“African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle, 1865-1883 (AARHS)…is one of two digital products offering curated archival primary source materials from the exemplary Afro-Americana Imprints 1535-1922 collection, from the Library Company of Philadelphia that traces its origins to the efforts of Benjamin Franklin and serves as America’s oldest cultural institution. Of great value and appeal to undergraduates, graduates, and researchers of history and African American studies, this collection highlights primary source materials from the immediate aftermath of the Civil War up until the Jim Crow era. AARHS includes a diverse set of documents like pamphlets, maps, legislative materials, poetry, drama, religious materials, biographies, and more. This wealth of varied materials will have value to scholars and students across the humanities.”
— Michael DeNotto, Hope College, in ccAdvisor (January 2018)

“The Library Company’s resources in early African American history are unsurpassed and they have remained at the center of my academic and professional life for nearly 25 years. As a scholar of black protest in the 18th and 19th centuries, I returned again and again to the wonders of the African Americana Collection, a world-class repository of black life and thought that has inspired countless historical books, articles and even novels. As an educator who ran a series of summer seminars focusing on African American history, I watched a myriad undergraduate scholars and secondary school teachers draw inspiration…from the African Americana Collection...”
— Richard S. Newman, Professor of History, Rochester Institute of Technology, and biographer of African Methodist Episcopal Church founder Richard Allen


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