In Black Journals of the United States author Walter C. Daniel stated that the African American press began in 1827 with the publication Freedom's Journal and that it's a misconception early Black journals (including 19th century's Anglo-African Magazine and A.M.E Church Review) were totally abolitionist. On the contrary, these publications followed the pattern of the traditional American national magazine, but antebellum black periodicals did speak out strongly against slavery.
Writing about the Black press for the African American Experience, William Jordan stated in the early 20th century, periodicals for African American readers were generally limited to publications that were subsidized by Black churches and organizations such as the NAACP and the National Urban League; and, by the 1940s publisher John H. Johnson helped usher in the era of glossy monthly magazines by and for Black readers.
Using resources held in the Research and Reference Division, researchers can trace the evolution of African American press from the its beginning in the 19th century as it documented the abolition of slavery through historical movements in the 20th-century to present day America.
On this page is an overview of resources including the library's catalog, indexes, databases, for researchers to use to locate periodicals published by and about African Americans that are in the collection.
Google Books has digitized select issues of Black periodicals which are freely available online. Note: Some publications may be accessible remotely via library databases. The full list of periodicals digitized by Google Books can be viewed here.
If you are searching for newspapers or periodicals that were published in the U.S. about the African American experience, we recommend you start with the NYPL catalog. You may limit your search to Schomburg Center as shown here:
If you don't know the title of a periodical, you can search for publications by state. For example, if you are searching for newspapers or periodicals published in New York, you can try the following subject search:
You may also search for periodicals by subject or discipline. For example, if you are searching for titles for periodicals about African Americans and education try a keyword search such as "African Americans education periodicals" or you can try the following subject search as follows:
Databases with the blue icon next to the title indicate that they can be accessed remotely with a valid NYPL card and four digit pin number. Databases with the icon of the lion next to the title indicate that they can only be accessed on site.
As part of NYPL's Center for Research in Humanities' Doc Chat series, NYPL's Julia Golia is joined by George Mason University Professor Amaka Okechukwu who discusses the historical context in which the short lived Black Arts Movement era periodical Black Dialogue, that is available via the open access database Independent Voices, was written and distributed. View a supplementary reading list to learn more about the Black Arts Movement and the Black radical press during this time period.