Skip to Main Content

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 research guide at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville (UVA). UVA's collections centering African American history date from the precolonial period to the present day. Use this guide to orient yourself with the dozens of specialized databases that include academic and scholarly analysis of several periods of Black American history. Many of UVA's African diaspora specialists hold primary appointments with the Carter G. Woodson Institute, established in 1981. Their fields of scholarship include the United States, the Caribbean & Latin America, and continental Africa. UVA's Librarian for African American and African Studies offers instruction and consultation in the navigation of these resources. Find this librarian's contact information at left to schedule an appointment. To see a current listing of courses being offered via the Department of African American and African studies at UVA, visit Lou's List. For related fields of inquiry, review the following resources:

Search Tips

Virgo, the UVA Library’s primary search tool, contains catalog records for books, print journals, DVDs, maps, and digitized materials, as well as links to online articles from our rich array of subscription journals.  You can search catalog materials and articles together, or view those results separately, using the "facets" provided to limit your results by author, format, publication period, and more.  

Sample terms

Note that terms used to refer to African American lived experiences have evolved over time. What was used in the mid-20th century has a great likelihood of being inappropriate today. However, given that research materials have been cataloged and/or titled using a broad variety of terms, some outdated keywords that are no longer used today may serve you in the research process. 

abolition, African American, African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Afro-American, antebellum, anti-slavery, Black Lives Matter, Blacks, civil rights, colored, Ebonics, freedmen, The Great Migration, Harlem Renaissance, integration, Jim Crow, maroons, Middle Passage, minority, miscegenation, mulatto, Negro, people of color, race, redlining, segregation, slavery, etc. 

Truncation symbols

When searching within the catalog and/or databases employ a truncation technique. That is, add an asterisk (*) to your keyword, for example, histor* to yield all of the following results: history, histories, historical, historic, historicized. Note that this strategy will yield results that contain plural and variant forms of your keyword.