Digital Library of the Week: Black History Month Resources

This week, let’s look at some terrific digital collections that focus on African Americans in the performing arts.

First we have Selected Clips from the Louis Armstrong Jazz Oral History Project from the New York Public Library. Watch interviews with musicians such as Jimmy Heath (sax and flute), Warren Smith (percussion), and Jon Faddis (trumpet).

If you are interested in music, you might also want to check out the Library of Congress American Memory collection African-American Sheet Music. There are over 1,000 pieces of music from the late 19th century through the early 20th century.

A playbill from the Douglass Theater
A playbill from the Douglass Theater

PBS has an excellent website to accompany its program, Free to Dance. The website and video document the contributions of African-American choreographers and dancers to American performing arts. Read the biographies of different dancers and check out their links to other online resources for the modern dancer. Don’t want to watch it online? The Greenfield Library has “Free to Dance” on videocassette. If you don’t have access to a VCR, we have several in the library.

Like theater? The Blues, Black Vaudeville, and the Silver Screen will introduce you to African American entrepreneur Charles Douglass, who founded the Douglass Theater in Georgia, providing diverse entertainment for the state’s African Americans. Or, browse Zora Neale Hurston Plays (another Library of Congress American Memory collection). Her plays focus on her life experiences and her research about African Americans in the nation’s South.

Don’t forget the UArts Libraries! We have created a few Subject Guides to help you get started in your research. There are African American History, African American Theater, and Jazz Reference Sources to name just a few, AND we have some great streaming audio and video databases that include African American performing arts and artists.

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