February is Black History Month

The books below are on display on the first floor of the library.  The DVDs and reference materials may be obtained, respectively, from the Media Center and the Reference Collection.  Ask a librarian if you’d like help finding them.  To see more about any resource, visit the Black History Month Research Guide.


The African-American century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Country – Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Cornel West
Call Number: E185.96 .G38 2000

The 20th century witnessed both the transformation of black life in the United States and blacks’ transformation of life in the United States. Focusing on 100 extraordinary personalities–ten in each of the book’s ten chapters (one for each decade), Gates (The Future of the Race) and West (Race Matter), both members of Harvard’s Afro-American Studies Department, tell what they dub a “miraculous” story of a people who overcame being systematically shut out from society to become central to national culture.
–Thomas J. Davis, Library Journal, 03630277, 11/15/2000, Vol. 125, Issue 19

Africans in America – Richard Worth
Call Number: E185 .W93 2005

A title from the “Immigration to the United States” series for middle school readers, Africans in America chronicles the history of voluntary and involuntary African immigrants to the United States.



Parish boundaries: the Catholic encounter with race in the twentieth-century urban North

by John T. McGreevy

Call Number E185.912 .M38 1996

“Throughout most of this century, McGreevy (History/Harvard) asserts, Catholic parishes, with their distinctive emphasis on geographical boundaries, constituted a unique combination of educational, religious, and social communities, representing a specifically Catholic style of merging neighborhood and region.”

Books in Print, Kirkus Reviews 19960301

Standing on Holy Ground

by Sandra E. Johnson

Recounts a true tale of Christianity in action, illuminating the actions of a diverse group of people who banded together to rebuild churches torched in a KKK wave of church burnings in the 1980s and 1990s.

-Boox Index with Reviews AN: BK0003851771



Up from slavery

by Booker T. Washington

Call Number E185.97 .W4 A3 1995

“Washington was an educator, founder of the renowned Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He advocated blacks advancing by mastery of vocational skills rather than by seeking civil rights and social equality–cooperation between the races playing an important part in his thinking. His autobiography traces his upward path from slavery.”

Review found in Books in Print database: Booklist 19900115


Three Novels: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Minister’s Wooing, Oldtown Folks

by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Call Number PS2954 1982

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s three most important novels are featured in this oompiled work, published by the Library of America.





Three Negro classics: Up from slavery. The souls of black folk. The autobiography of an ex-colored man.

Introduction by John Hope Franklin

Call Number E185.97 .W278


“The autobiography of Booker T Washington is a startling portrait of one of the great Americans of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The illegitimate son of ‘a white man and a Negro slave, Washington, a man who struggled for his education, would go on to struggle for the dignity of all his people in a hostile and alien society.”


“W.E.B. DuBois’s classic is a major sociological document and one of the momentous books in the mosaic of American literature. No other work has had greater influence on black thinking, and nowhere is the African-American’s unique heritage and his kinship with all men so passionately described.”


“Originally published anonymously, James Weldon Johnson’s penetrating work is a remarkable human account of the life of black Americans in the early twentieth century and a profound interpretation of his feelings towards the white man and towards members of his own race. No other book touches with such understanding and objectivity on the phenomenon once called “passing” in a white society.

Internet Resources:

African American Band Music & Recordings, 1883-1923


This website from the Library of Congress features popular songs by African-American composers, with stock arrangements for various instrumentations along with pre-1923 recordings in MP3 and RealMedia formats.

African American Band Music & Recordings, 1883-1923


This is a digital collection from the New York Public Library. From the website: “African American Women Writers of the 19th Century is a digital collection of some 52 published works by 19th-century black women writers…this digital library is key-word-searchable. Each individual title as well as the entire database can be searched.

— M. D. Jenkins II, Wright State University, 2009aug CHOICE

African American Women Writers of the 19th Century


This is a digital collection from the New York Public Library.  From the website: “African American Women Writers of the 19th Century is a digital collection of some 52 published works by 19th-century black women writers…this digital library is key-word-searchable. Each individual title as well as the entire database can be searched.”

— R. Walsh, Three Rivers Community College, 2009aug CHOICE

Antislavery Literature


From the website: “The Project is based in the Arizona State University’s English department and works in cooperation with the EServer, located at Iowa State University. As an educational non-profit, the Project provides public access to the literature and history of the antislavery movement in the United States.”

Civil Rights Digital Library


The University of Georgia’s Civil Rights Digital Library is one of the largest and most comprehensive websites featuring primary source materials, both audio-visual and text-based, from the civil rights movement.


African American Lives
Call Number: DVD E185.96 .A375 2006 AV
ISBN: 9781415716946
3.5/4 stars

“Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. takes himself and eight other prominent black Americans, including Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, and Chris Tucker on an epic journey, using a combination of family memories and onsite research to deftly interweave the family histories of all nine”

— S Rees, Video Librarian, September/October 2006  (Volume 21, Issue 5)

Voices of Civil Rights
Call Number: DVD E185.61 .C5855 2006 AV
ISBN: 0767076680
3/4 stars

Voices of Civil Rights, a collection of five documentaries on two discs, captures the scope of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s”

–P. Hall, Video Librarian, May/June 2006  (Volume 21, Issue 3)

Reference Materials

Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events. 2d ed. – Jessie Carney Smith
Call Number: REF E185 .B574 2003
ISBN: 1578591422

An updated list of documented first achievements of blacks throughout the world, this edition is expanded to include over 1000 “firsts” in broad fields such as “Arts and Entertainment” and narrow fields such as “Dance” and “Television.”

Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-First CenturyPaul Finkelman
ISBN: 9780195167795

“This resource, edited by Finkelman (Albany Law Sch.), excels at discussions of similar or related topics by academics under one heading. Under “Desegregation and Integration,” for instance, users will find five subentries: an overview and individual entries on desegregation and integration in the armed forces, higher education, public education, and professional athletics.”
— Al Vara, Temple Univ. Lih., Philadelphia, Library Journal, March 15, 2009, p. 124 & 128


New! Text a Librarian

Text the Rebecca Crown Library at 708-689-9524 to get quick answers to your burning questions.

We will answer your text as soon as possible during regular reference hours, or the next morning if you text after the library is closed.

Public Domain Day: January 1, 2010

January 1, 2010, was Public Domain Day.  At the start of each new year, the copyright terms on certain authors’ works expire and those works enter the public domain.  There are no longer any restrictions on uses of those works.  There are, depending on the nature of some works and the jurisdiction of the works, some exceptions.  Notable authors whose works entered the public domain this year include William Butler Yeats and Sigmund Freud.  To find more works in the public domain, search www.publicdomainworks.net.

Copyright law today gives an author exclusive rights to her/his work for the duration of her/his life plus an additional 70 years.  This means works can be restricted for upwards of 100 years or more.  Authors can remove (as well as transfer or sell) any or all restrictions as they see fit.  Recognizing that users want to freely and easily access and build upon their works, some authors are using tools such as Creative Commons to remove restrictions.  Some are even dedicating their works to the public domain well before the life + 70 year term.

Copyright law and copyright terms have changed numerous times over the years.  When you add in unpublished and unregistered works, digital works, and works whose copyright owners are unknown, things can get confusing.  Cornell University has a great resource that tells you when certain categories of works have or will enter the public domain.

Top image from www.publicdomainday.org.  Bottom image from MikeBlogs’ Flickr images.