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 visual and literary arts.

Many Moons by El Anatsui at the Museum of African Art
Many Moons by El Anatsui at the Museum of African Art

If you are interested in African arts, the first place to explore is the National Museum of African Art, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The website has a lot of resources on traditional and contemporary African art and artists. You can read about work currently on view and virtually browse their galleries.

There are also two excellent university art collections that focus on African and African American art. Howard University, also in Washington, D.C., has Selections from American Art from the Howard University Collection. View works by prominent African American artists including Aaron Douglas, Isaac Hathaway, and Faith Ringgold.

Another university collection comes from just south of us – The University of Delaware’s Paul R. Jones Collection of African American Art. View artists’ works including Romare Bearden, David Hammons, and Henry O. Tanner.

author Alice Walker
author Alice Walker

There are also great digital collections of African American writing. African American Women Writers of the 19th Century, provided by the New York Public Library, is a full-text database of 19th and early 20th century literary works that give us “access to the thought, perspectives and creative abilities of black women” during that era (Introduction). Choose to read fiction, poetry, biographies, or essays.

Also check out the University of Minnesota’s Voices from the Gaps: Women Writers and Artists of Color. You’ll find work by Nikki Giovanni, Lorraine Hansberry, Bell Hooks, and many more. There are also interviews with the writers and academic reviews of their work.

To learn more about African American artists and writers, search the University Libraries’ catalog for subjects such as African American Art, African American Artists, or American Literature African American Authors, and check out our online subject guide on African American History.

Next week, we’ll wrap up Black History Month with some wonderful online resources created right here in Philadelphia.

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