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African American Studies

Welcome to the African American Studies guide. Resources and guidance here will help you to navigate the rich University of Virginia collections for research purposes.


Welcome to the African American Studies guide at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Search Tips

Search terms
When searching for older articles, remember to use keywords/terms that may have been in use in the time period you are  researching. For example, words referring to African Americans and enslaved laborers/slaves have varied or changed over time. 
"Negro" was a commonly used term until the 1960s. And pre-Civil War, people who had escaped slavery were often called "maroons."

Sample terms
abolition, Afro-American, African American, African American Vernacular English (AAVE), blacks, civil rights, colored, Ebonics, race, slavery, middle passage, maroons, mulatto, negro, anti-slavery, freedmen, integration Jim Crow, miscegenation, minority, redlining, segregation, etc.

Truncation symbols
When searching VIRGO, add a $ to your term (e.g. slave$ returns slave, slaves, slavery) to retrieve titles with plural or variant forms of your word.   When searching journal article databases, use the asterisk *.  It's the truncation symbol for most databases; if the * doesn't work, see the Help screen of the database.


Advanced VIRGO search examplesAuthor= gates henry louis
Exact phrase= 'freedom riders' (note single quotes)

Combining terms:

keyword/subject= periodicals african americans
keyword/subject= abolitionist$ united states sources
(returns results for primary source materials)

keyword/title = racism and american
keyword/keyword = 'jim crow' and boycott$
keyword/subject= abolitionist$ united states sources

Search terms that will find bibliographies and subject encyclopedias:

subject = african americans biography
subject = african american$ (or civil rights/middle passage) encyclopedias
subject = slavery virginia bibliography