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Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922


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From the Library Company of Philadelphia


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Created from the Library Company's acclaimed Afro-Americana Collection - an accumulation that began with Benjamin Franklin and steadily increased throughout its entire history - this unique online resource will provide researchers with more than 12,000 printed works. These essential books, pamphlets and broadsides, including many lesser-known imprints, hold an unparalleled record of African American history, literature and culture. This digital edition of one of the world's preeminent collections for African American studies is available as a single complete collection, or in one or more of ten cohesive modules, organized by historic era.

From African society to the struggle for justice

This collection spans nearly 400 years, from the early 16th to the early 20th century. Critically important subjects covered include the West's discovery and exploitation of Africa; the rise of slavery in the New World along with the growth and success of abolitionist movements; the development of racial thought and racism; descriptions of African American life - slave and free - throughout the Americas; and slavery and race in fiction and drama. Also featured are printed works of African American individuals and organizations.

Fresh scholarship on slavery and African American history

The Afro-Americana Collection began to gain international renown for its size, range and significance in the late 1960s as scholars initiated fresh studies of slavery's part in the American story. As researchers rediscovered the importance of the long-neglected writings of African Americans, the Library Company's collection became increasingly vital to new scholarship. Today it serves as a critical resource for scholars and students, and a plethora of new research and teaching opportunities will arise from its digitization.

The landmark work behind the digital edition

The magisterial bibliography Afro-Americana 1553-1906 was first published in 1973. A second edition published in 2008, including 2,500 works acquired since 1973, now provides the bibliographic control for the Readex edition. Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922, is fully integrated into America's Historical Imprints for seamless searching with Early American Imprints, Series I and II, including Supplements from the Library Company of Philadelphia.

About the Library Company of Philadelphia

The Library Company is an independent research library specializing in American history, society and culture from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company is America's first successful lending library and oldest cultural institution. In 2007, its influential new Program in African American History was created.

Available Modules

The digital edition of one of the world's preeminent collections for African American studies is available as a single complete collection, or in one or more of the following modules:

I. Discovery and Colonization, 1535-1771


A. Exploration and Establishment of Slavery and the Slave Trade (1535-1728)

Exploration and colonization of Africa and Americas; establishment of trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery in Americas

B. Prelude to Revolution and Abolitionism (1729-1771)

Rise of trans-Atlantic antislavery literature; slave revolts in U.S. and Caribbean; Enlightenment ideals of human rights

II. Revolution and Racialization, 1772-1830

A. Revolutionary Ideas of Freedom (1772-1804)

Founding of first abolition societies; U.S. Revolution; Haitian Revolution; abolition of slavery and establishment of free black communities in the North; Somerset Ruling; British movement to abolish slave trade; colonial rule and race relations in the Caribbean

B. African American Migrations and Settlements (1805-1830)

Abolition of slave trade (UK/US); Missouri Compromise; birth of colonization movements; growth of free black urban populations; rise of racism in the North

III. Radical Abolitionism, 1831-1865

A. Dissent and Suppression in Slavery Debates (1831-1849)

Nat Turner Rebellion; emancipation in UK and French colonies; race riots; Congressional gag rule; establishment of radical abolition societies; women's participation in anti-slavery activism; growth of print culture in slavery debate

B. Prelude to Civil War (1850-1860)

Fugitive Slave Act; growth of sectional tensions

C. Civil War (1861-1865)

Emancipation Proclamation; federal enlistment of black soldiers; debates about the war's objectives

IV. From Freedom to Segregation, 1866-1922

A. Reconstruction (1866-1877)

Debates regarding the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments; Federal Reconstruction; Southern race riots

B. African American Citizenship and Identity (1878-1896)

Federal struggles for civil rights; flourishing of black novelists, historians, and intellectuals; exploration of African interior; missionaries and religion in black communities of the U.S. and Africa

C. Era of "Separate but Equal" (1897-1922)

"Lost Cause" and memorializing the Civil War, growth of sociology in study of African Americans and race relations, solidification of legal and social racial segregation in the U.S., continued growth of African Diasporic thought and travel, British imperialism and racial thought in Africa

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