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Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

From the Library Company of Philadelphia

An unparalleled collection of early African American history, literature and culture
Learn what makes this product unique
  • One of the world’s preeminent collections for African American studies
  • A vibrant record of African American life across five centuries
  • Available as a single complete collection, or in one or more of ten chronological segments

This sweeping online resource is created from the Library Company of Philadelphia’s acclaimed Afro-Americana Collection—a collection started by Benjamin Franklin that steadily increased throughout its history, ultimately encompassing more than 12,000 printed works. In addition to essential books, pamphlets and broadsides, the collection includes many lesser-known imprints. Taken as a whole, it offers an unparalleled record of African American history, literature and culture. This digital edition is available as a single complete collection, or in one or more of ten chronological segments, organized by historic era.

From colonial-era African societies to the struggle for justice in the Americas
Spanning nearly 400 years, from the early 16th to the early 20th century, this critically important resource covers a range of subjects from diverse perspectives. Among them are the discovery and exploitation of Africa by European powers; the transatlantic passage and rise of chattel slavery in the Americas; the growth and success of abolitionist movements; the evolution of racial thought and racism; descriptions of African American life—enslaved and free—throughout the Americas; and depictions of slavery and race in fiction and drama. Many works were written by African American individuals and organizations.

Fresh scholarship on African American history
The Afro-Americana Collection began to gain international renown for its size, range and significance in the late 1960s as scholars began more closely examining the role of slavery in the American story. As researchers rediscovered the importance of the long-neglected writings of African Americans, the Library Company’s collection became increasingly vital to new scholarship. Today it continues to serve as a critical resource for scholars and students, offering a plethora of research and teaching opportunities.

The landmark work behind the digital edition
The magisterial bibliography Afro-Americana 1553-1906 was first published in 1973. A second edition published in 2008, including 2,500 works acquired since 1973, now provides the bibliographic control for the Readex digital collection. Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922, is fully integrated into America’s Historical Imprints for seamless searching with Early American Imprints, Series I and II, including Supplements from the Library Company of Philadelphia.

About the Library Company of Philadelphia
The Library Company is an independent research library specializing in American history, society and culture from the 17th through 19th centuries. Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company is America’s first successful lending library and oldest cultural institution. In 2007, its influential Program in African American History was created.

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“A touchstone for scholars and students alike. To have it available a dream come true.”
Richard Newman, Professor of History, Rochester Institute of Technology
Areas of Study
This product supports the following subjects
African & Middle Eastern Studies
African American Studies
American Studies
British & European Studies
Caribbean Studies
Early American Studies
Ethnic Studies
US History
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Title List
Reviews & Accolades

“Current events in the U.S. have created renewed interest in African American studies. Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535–1922 adds to the extant research materials by providing primary sources covering the history, peoples, literature, and social and economic development of African Americans over nearly four centuries….This is a rich digital collection, allowing scholars worldwide to explore new aspects of people, places, and material culture from the past that have direct bearing on the present. The search interface, seamlessly integrated with other Readex collections…is designed with novices as well as expert researchers in mind.…Summing Up: Highly recommended.”
—D. W. Bilal, Missouri State Library, in Choice (Nov. 2015)

Many resources are devoted to African American history and culture, but few offer the archival detail of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922….a multifaceted file for students and researchers of all types.

“…the new interface…is a significant improvement in terms of usability and function. Clearly labeled "browse by" options are in the middle of the page and include genre, subjects, author, history of printing, place of publication, and language. The purposely large boxes are easy to read, meaning patrons should be able to navigate them with ease.”
— Library Journal (June 1, 2015)

“The Library Company of Philadelphia’s Afro-Americana collection has long been one of the essential archives for early African American studies.  From broadsides to sermons to pamphlets to narratives, it has been indispensable to every stage of my research.  Now its online iteration, Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922, has become central to how I teach early African American literature and print culture.  The collection’s breadth (generic, linguistic, geographic) and depth has allowed me to introduce students (graduate and undergraduate) and colleagues to the archive of Afro-Americana in ways heretofore impossible.  What once took forays into multiple online sources, microfilm collections, personal archives, and anthologies can now be done through one online interface.  More, the organization by Genre, Subject, Author, History of Printing, Place of Publication, and Language provides multiple vectors for engaging the archive.  The History of Printing category has been especially helpful for giving a sense of just how vast early African American print production was, while the Genre breakdown provides both organization and points of departure for thinking about how we categorize and canonize texts in the field more broadly.  While online interfaces can never replace encounters with material objects, Afro-Americana Imprints and its independently available subset of Black Authors makes getting students excited about archival research much easier.  In that sense, it provides a fantastic gateway to black print culture.”
— Derrick R. Spires, Assistant Professor of English, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“The Library Company’s Afro-Americana Collection is one of the most comprehensive and valuable archives of printed material by and about people of African descent anywhere in the world. From early descriptions of African society and culture to the black struggle for justice in the Americas during the 19th century, it remains a touchstone for scholars and students alike. To have it available online and at your fingertips in a searchable format is a dream come true.”
— Richard Newman, Former Professor of History, Rochester Institute of Technology, and author of Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church and the Black Founding Fathers, and The Transformation of American Abolitionism

“The Afro-Americana Collection at the Library Company is widely recognized as an unparalleled and indispensable resource for scholars of early African-American history and culture. For generations, this rich collection has been available only to those able to work on site in Philadelphia. Today, early African American studies is a global enterprise that includes researchers throughout the United States as well as Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. This collaboration between the Library Company and Readex will bring new resources into reach and enrich this still expanding field of research and study.”
— Martha S. Jones, Associate Professor, Department of History and Department of Afroamerican & African Studies, and Affiliated Faculty of Law, University of Michigan, and author of All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830-1900

“The benefits to scholarship and teaching that will come when the Library Company’s Afro-Americana Collection is made into a digital database are virtually immeasurable. This will be a major step in infusing American history in general with its vitally important African American component. Teachers at all levels will find this a goldmine.”
— Gary Nash, Professor Emeritus and Director, National Center for History in the Schools, University of California, Los Angeles, and author of The Forgotten Fifth: African Americans in the Age of Revolution

“The Library Company of Philadelphia’s Afro-Americana Collection is a crucial resource for those who study the history and literature of Africans in America and of slavery. This extensive collection, meticulously documented, expands our access to literary cultures in America before the early 20th century. Having it in digital form—searchable, incorporating the LCP’s metadata, able to cross-reference with the other elements of the Archive of Americana—will be a major benefit to researchers.”
Samuel Otter, Professor and Chair, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Philadelphia Stories: America’s Literature of Race and Freedom

Notable Titles
Chronological Segments

The digital edition of one of the world’s preeminent collections for African American studies is available as a single complete collection, or in one or more of the following modules:

I. Discovery and Colonization, 1535-1771

A. Exploration and Establishment of Slavery and the Slave Trade (1535-1728)
Exploration and colonization of Africa and Americas; establishment of trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery in Americas.
Title List More Information

B. Prelude to Revolution and Abolitionism (1729-1771)
Rise of trans-Atlantic antislavery literature; slave revolts in U.S. and Caribbean; Enlightenment ideals of human rights.
Title List | More Information

II. Revolution and Racialization, 1772-1830

A. Revolutionary Ideas of Freedom (1772-1804)
Founding of first abolition societies; U.S. Revolution; Haitian Revolution; abolition of slavery and establishment of free black communities in the North; Somerset Ruling; British movement to abolish slave trade; colonial rule and race relations in the Caribbean .
Title List | More Information

B. African American Migrations and Settlements (1805-1830)
Abolition of slave trade (UK/US); Missouri Compromise; birth of colonization movements; growth of free black urban populations; rise of racism in the North.
Title List | More Information

III. Radical Abolitionism, 1831-1865

A. Dissent and Suppression in Slavery Debates (1831-1849)
Nat Turner Rebellion; emancipation in UK and French colonies; race riots; Congressional gag rule; establishment of radical abolition societies; women’s participation in anti-slavery activism; growth of print culture in slavery debate.
Title List | More Information

B. Prelude to Civil War (1850-1860)
Fugitive Slave Act; growth of sectional tensions.
Title Lists Part 1 & Part 2 | More Information

C. Civil War (1861-1865)
Emancipation Proclamation; federal enlistment of black soldiers; debates about the war’s objectives.
Title List | More Information

IV. From Freedom to Segregation, 1866-1922

A. Reconstruction (1866-1877)
Debates regarding the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments; Federal Reconstruction; Southern race riots.
Title List | More Information

B. African American Citizenship and Identity (1878-1896)
Federal struggles for civil rights; flourishing of black novelists, historians, and intellectuals; exploration of African interior; missionaries and religion in black communities of the U.S. and Africa.
Title List | More Information

C. Era of “Separate but Equal” (1897-1922)
“Lost Cause” and memorializing the Civil War; growth of sociology in study of African Americans and race relations; solidification of legal and social racial segregation in the U.S.; continued growth of African Diasporic thought and travel; British imperialism and racial thought in Africa.
Title List | More Information

Series List
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