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Black Studies

Sojourner Truth Library resources for research on Black Studies and related topics

Search or Browse the STL Catalog

Find Black Studies-related books and other media


Book Awards

The following list of Book Award links focus on sites that highlight books with African American themes:

Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

BCALA Literary Awards

Carter G. Woodson Book Awards

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

Go On Girl! Book Club Annual Author Awards

Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Awards

NAACP Image Awards: Literary

Phillis Wheatley Book Award

E-book Collections

 Search these collections for electronic books that can be viewed on your computer. 

Search Other Libraries

Search catalogs from other libraries:

  • SUNY Connect catalog: Search other SUNY libraries.
  • STL database: Search libraries world-wide via the STL database, restricted to SUNY NP patrons only.
  • Open WorldCat: Search libraries worldwide via the web version of WorldCat, available to the general public.

Library of Congress Subject Headings for African American Studies

The following subject headings and terms can be useful search terms in many of the databases including the library catalog.

The following lists of terms are by no means complete lists of subject headings related to African American Studies. Additional subject headings can found in the Library of  Congress Subject Headings books. These are the large red books located behind the Reference Desk. If more help is needed, please ask a librarian.

According to the Library of Congress subject headings, the standard search term for African American or Black American is African American.

Works may also be listed under African Americans (plural) when the subject deals with African Americans as a group. The term African American is used primarily as an adjective modifying another group designation. In other words, African Americans -- Civil rights deals with the civil rights of African Americans, while African American Civil rights workers refers to civil rights workers who are African American.

In the Sojourner Truth Library stacks and reference collection, books with African Americans as the primary subject heading have call numbers beginning with E185.  You can browse our collection or other library’s collections that use the Library of Congress Classification System by going to the E185 sections of the stacks.

NOTE : Many other books with African Americans as subject heading will be located elsewhere in the stacks depending upon it’s other subjects.  To be sure you don’t miss items available under other call numbers, it’s a good idea to search the catalog.


When searching for groups who temporarily reside in the United States (such as resident aliens, students from abroad, etc.), use Blacks -- United States. For searches involving blacks who do not reside in the United States, use Blacks -- [country, city, etc.]. For example: Blacks -- Brazil.

Subject headings can be narrowed by subdivisions.  Read on for some examples.

Geographical Subdivisions:

Many subjects may be narrowed by geography. This may be done by adding the country, state or city to the end of the subject.

  • Civil rights - United States

"Free-Floating" Subdivisions:

A variety of standard options exist for narrowing searches. These may be appended to the end of a subject heading. For example, works about African American persons may be searched by the subject heading African Americans Biography.

Commonly used free-floating subdivisions include:

  • Anniversaries
  • Bibliography
  • Biography
  • Civil rights
  • Correspondence
  • Intellectual life
  • Diaries
  • Education
  • Folklore
  • History
  • Literature
  • Periodicals
  • Political activity
  • Religion
  • Social conditions
  • Social life and customs
  • Societies, etc
  • Songs and music

A few more possibilities:

  • African Americans -- Suffrage
  • American drama -- African American authors
  • Black English
  • Black power -- United States
  • Civil rights workers -- United States
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Poor People's Campaign
  • Selma-Montgomery Rights March, 1965
  • Slaves' writings, American
  • Free African Americans

Sample Headings related to music:

  • African American church musicians
  • African American music [In place of African American songs]
  • Hip-hop
  • Rap (music)
  • Spirituals (Songs) [In place of African American spirituals]

Sample Headings specific to African American women:

  • African American women abolitionists
  • African American women clergy
  • African American women social reformers

Sample Headings specific to families and students:

  • African American families
  • African American college students

African American Subject Funnel Project

To learn more about efforts to provide input and guidance on terminology that accurately reflects the African American experience, check out the African American Studies Librarian Interest Group of the Association of College and Research Library's collaboration with the Library of Congress.

--adapted from MSU African American Studies Research Guide: Find Books

Searching for Information

The African American community is composed of persons with ancestral origins in over 50 countries of the African continent. It does not include, however, descendants of persons from Egypt, white, Indian or Arab immigrants from the African continent. African Americans share a geographic origin with the African continent but because of diasporic movements, many also share a more recent tie to the Caribbean Islands, Latin America and other parts of the world. Blacks from non-African countries such as Haiti, Cuba, or the Dominican Republic are usually referred to by their nation of origin and not “African American”, but in general in the U.S. if a person is Black, a native English-speaker and lives in the United States, he or she is referred to as "African American" by the library subject headings.

SUBJECT HEADINGS : “African American” is the most common self-identifying term in use.

Other related terms useful to identify populations when searching the STL Catalog and other databases like WorldCat include: racially mixed people, bi-racial/biracial persons, multiracial people, mulattos and Black race.

geographic or thematic qualifier may also be included to narrow the search in a very expansive subject area. A Geographic qualifier such as African Americans -- New York (State) -- Ulster County and thematic qualifiers such as African Americans Education, African Americans Fiction may be used.

--adapted from MSU African American Studies Research Guide: Find Books