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Staff Pick: Black Historical Newspapers

  • Posted by: Daniella Snyder
  • Posted Date: September 20, 2018
  • Filed Under: Library News

Black Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)

By Jutta Seibert

Philadelphia Tribune

In recent years, the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements have given minority groups a platform to voice their grievances and concerns, and most of the major U.S. news outlets have reported on these movements. However, minority voices and viewpoints used to be largely underrepresented in the media.

For most of the twentieth century African Americans relied on the African American press for their information needs. During the Progressive Era African Americans began printing their own news in all major cities with strong African American populations: New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Norfolk and Pittsburgh.

ProQuest has digitized the print archives of the most influential African American newspapers as much as they survived, and the Villanova community can now access them through the Library’s website.

The Black Historical Newspapers collection includes The Baltimore Afro-American, founded in 1892 by John H. Murphy, Sr. and one of the most widely circulated black newspapers on the Atlantic coast. It remains in print today under its new name Afro. Also included are the Chicago Defender, founded in 1905 by Robert S. Abbott, a newspaper that exposed Jim Crow laws in the South and urged African Americans to move north to improve their lot.

Today the Defender is the oldest newspaper in Chicago. Noteworthy for scholars with local history interests will be the Philadelphia Tribune, founded by Christopher J. Perry in 1884. It is the oldest continuously published African American newspaper in the country. Other newspapers in the collection are the Atlanta Daily World, the Cleveland Call & Post, the Los Angeles Sentinel, the New York Amsterdam News, the Norfolk Journal & Guide, and the Pittsburgh Courier.

The first African American newspapers in the country were founded in the early nineteenth century. The Villanova community has access to digital copies of some of these publications through African American Newspapers: The 19th Century. The collection includes the Freedom’s Journal, the first African American owned and operated newspaper, the Christian Recorder, The North Star, and Frederick Douglass’ Paper.

African American communities continue to support these historically significant news outlets, many of which remain in print today. Interested readers will notice that in some cases print issues of the early years of these newspapers are lost and are hence not part of the digital archive. For those interested in learning more about the history of the African American press, the Library has the following recommendations:

  • Penn, I. Garland 1867-1930. The Afro-American Press and Its Editors. Springfield, MA: Willey, 1891.
  • Thompson, Shirley E. “The Black Press.” In A Companion to African American History, ed. by Alton Hornsby Jr., 332-345. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.
  • Wolseley, Roland Edgar. The Black Press, U.S.A. [1st ed.]. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1971.
    Falvey collections: PN4888.N4 W6
  • Pride, Armistead Scott., and Clint C. Wilson. A History of the Black Press. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1997.
    Falvey collections: PN4882.5.P75 1997
  • Simmons, Charles A. The African American Press: A History of News Coverage During National Crises, With Special Reference to Four Black Newspapers, 1827-1965. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 1998.
    Falvey collections: PN4882.5 .S57 1998
  • Hutton, Frankie. The Early Black Press in America, 1827 to 1860. Westport, Conn. ; London: Greenwood Press, 1993.
    Falvey collections: PN4882.5 .H87 1993
  • Newkirk, Pamela. Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media. New York: New York University Press, 2000.
    Falvey collections: PN4882.5 .N49 2000
  • Carroll, Fred. Race News: Black Journalists and the Fight for Racial Justice in the Twentieth Century. Urbana; Chicago; Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2017.



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Last Modified: September 20, 2018

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