NOTE: "*" precedes the descriptive note for the citation directly above.

Frederick Douglass Book Shelf


Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself.
Boston: Anti-Slavery Office,1845.
*This is the place for students to get a sense of the man himself. This autobiographical account covers his childhood and youth as a slave and takes him up to his becoming an abolitionist activist. There are many different editions available of this literary classic.

My Bondage and My Freedom.
New York and Auburn, NY: Miller Orton & Mulligan, 1855.

Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself.
Hartford: Park Publishing Co., 1881.

Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself: His early life as a slave, his escape from bondage, and his complete history to the present time.
New rev. ed. Boston: DeWolfe, Fisk, & Co., 1892.

Blassingame, John W, ed. The Frederick Douglass Papers.
Five vols. to date. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979-. *This is a comprehensive attempt to gather all of Douglass's writings, correspondence, and other materials.

Foner, Philip, ed. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass.
Four vols. New York: International Publishers, 1950. *Contains a good selection of Douglass's writings as well as other materials.

Frederick Douglass on Women's Rights.
Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1976.


McFeely, William S. Frederick Douglass.
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991.
*A comprehensive modern biography with nearly 400 pages of text. Students who are working on specific issues in Douglass's life should consult this work.

Huggins, Nathan Irvin. Slave and Citizen: The Life of Frederick Douglass.
Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1980.
*Huggins's book provides a good overview of Douglass's life.

Martin, Waldo E., Jr. The Mind of Frederick Douglass.
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.
*This volume is a good topical guide to key issues faced by Douglass.

Kolchin, Peter. American Slavery 1619-1877.
New York: Hill and Wang, 1993.
*This is an excellent introduction to the subject.

Stampp, Kenneth M. The Peculiar Institution.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956.
*Describes the specific attributes of slavery as an American institution.

Blassingame, John W. The Slave Community.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1972, 1979. and

Genovese, Eugene D. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974. *These two works analyze the ways that slaves made sense of their worlds.

On abolitionism see:

Walters, Ronald G. The Antislavery Appeal: American Abolitionism After 1830.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.

Sorin, Gerald. Abolitionism: A New Perspective.
New York: Praeger, 1972

Stewart, James Brewer. Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery.
New York: Hill and Wang, 1976.

For specific studies of the role of African-Americans in the movement see:

Bracey, John H., August Meier, and Elliott Rudwick, eds. Blacks in the Abolition Movement.
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishers, 1971.

Quarles, Benjamin. Black Abolitionists.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.

Yee, Shirley J., Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism 1828-1860.
Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992.

Sojourner Truth Book Shelf


Foner, Philip, ed. The Voice of Black America.
New York: Capricorn Books, 1972.
*A book of speeches by black Americans in which are found the major ones given by Sojourner Truth, including "Woman's Rights"(A'n't I a Woman?) and "When Woman Gets Her Rights Man Will Be Right."

Sterling, Dorothy, ed. We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century.
New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1984.
*This book contains a section on Sojourner Truth, featuring a recollection of her by Harriett Beecher Stowe and it also reports on a meeting which Truth attended in rural Indiana in 1858. Other primary sources are located in special collections in the states of North Carolina, Michigan, and Massachusetts.


Buhle, Mari Jo and Paul, eds. The Concise of History of Woman's Suffrage.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978.
*This book details the context surrounding Truth's famous speech, "Woman's Rights," given in 1851, including audience reaction.

Giddings, Paula. When and Where I Enter.
New York: Bantam Books, 1984.
*This book contains a section which also provides information on Truth's opposition to the 15th Amendment and alludes to the possible influence of white feminists, such as Susan B. Anthony, on Truth's position. Giddings includes an excerpt from one of Truth's speeches.

Gilbert, Olive. Narrative of Sojourner Truth
Drawn from her "Book of Life." Reissued. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
*This narrative frames the stages of Truth's life, with an emphasis on family relations as well as on Truth's social activism. In chronicling her life, one of the major contributions of this source is this listing of nineteenth-century correspondence to Truth, including those from supporters in Kansas towns, such as Iola, Wyandotte, and Leavenworth, with a reference to her visiting Kansas. A note from a Smith family in Iola refers to Truth's spiritual, mystical quality. This narrative also highlights the role of singing in Truth's life.

Joseph, Gloria I. "Sojourner Truth: Archetypal Black Feminist."
In Joanne M. Braxton and Andree N. McLaughlin, eds., Wild Women in the Whirlwind. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1990.
*This essay argues that Truth was a revolutionary in her own right, and that she possessed a strong sense of self as a black person and as a woman. The chapter also describes Truth's political shrewdness and her "deep, sonorous" voice which became a noted quality in her speaking at political events and on other occasions. Joseph describes Truth's reaction to the 15th Amendment the one whose passage gave black men the right to vote.

Krass, Peter. Sojourner Truth: Anti-Slavery Activist. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.
*This book is one part of the Black Americans of Achievement Series, and contains an introductory essay by Coretta Scott King. While this book provides a highlight of the significant life events of Sojourner Truth, it also shows Douglass's participation in social movements, including times when he and Sojourner Truth were present at the same place. The most distinguishing feature of this book is the numerous photographs and illustrations.

Mabee, Carlton. Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend.
New York: New York University Press, 1993.
*This recently-published biography ranks as one of the most authenticated sources yet published on Sojourner Truth. In unearthing sources that were immediate to Truth's activities (as compared to sources written long after the fact), this book calls to question some of the extant information published about Truth, including the text of her reputed "A'n't I a Woman" speech whose extant title was given by others, not by Truth, herself. The chapters covering the topics of why she never learned to read and write, her singing, and her talking with God are quite timely and rather unique.

Painter, Nell Irvin. Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol.
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996.
*This work goes beyond the myths, words, and photographs of Truth to uncover the life of a complex woman who was born into slavery and died a legend.
*"Dispelling myth, Nell Irvin Painter has given a legend new strength. Cut to true cloth, Sojourner Truth is a fiery Pentecostal evangelist; dressed in honored memory, she is the emblematic strong black woman as tireless reformer. Painter has explored two Truths to achieve a brilliant portrait of each." --William S. McFeely

Washington, Margaret, ed. Narrative of Sojourner Truth.
New York: Vintage, 1993.
*This new edition of an older version of Truth's narrative has been annotated by Washington. It chronicles Truth's life and opens vistas whereby the reader can begin to understand Truth's religious conversion and her spirituality, the latter of which played a significant role in shaping her personal style. This book, however, places Truth's spirituality into the framework of African, rather than Western ontology. This narrative also illumines the little-known part of Truth's presentation: the important role of singing.

Yellin, Jean Fagan. Women and Sisters: The Antislavery Feminists in American Culture.
New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989.
*This book contains a chapter setting forth the view of Truth as a self-made woman and it also points out special problems involved in authenticating Truth's speech texts, due to her illiteracy and to our dependency on transcribers' view and on other people's recollections of her. The chapter also describes how Truth, in spite of her illiteracy, was able in her discourse to differentiate her sense of self from that of literate white women with whom she associated and from their models of what comprised true womanhood.


Harris, Robert L., Jr. Teaching African-American History.
Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1992.
*This pamphlet provides good background information on African-Americans, emphasizing knowledge of the important groups' role in American history. This source also addresses the issue of diversity within the United States.

W.E.B. Du Bois Book Shelf


Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches.
Chicago: A.C. McClurg, 1903.
*This is a good starting point for those students seeking to understand Du Bois. There are many editions available. A good paperback edition is available with an introduction by Randall Kenan. New York: Signet/Penguin Books, 1995 [1903].

Sundquist, Eric J. The Oxford W.E.B. Du Bois Reader.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
*This is another accessible source that is available in paperback.


Aptheker, Herbert. Annotated Bibliography of the Published Writings of W.E.B. Du Bois.
Millwood, NY: Kraus-Thomson, 1973.

Du Bois wrote three different versions of his autobiography:
1) Du Bois, W.E.B. Darkwater: Voices From Within the Veil.
New York: Harcourt, Brace & Howe, 1920

2) Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept.
New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1940

3) The Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life From the Last Decade of Its First Century.
Edited by Herbert Aptheker. New York: International Publishers, 1968.

Herbert Aptheker has edited much of Du Bois's writings and correspondence, among them:
Aptheker, Herbert, ed. The Correspondence of W.E.B. Du Bois.
Three vols. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1973-78.


Lewis, David Levering. W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race 1868-1919.
New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1993.
*This is the place to go to get an comprehensive (700 pages of text and notes) understanding of Du Bois's life and work during the first fifty years of his life. A second volume that will cover the rest of Du Bois's life is forthcoming.

Marable, Manning. W.E.B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat.
Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1986.
*This is a good short treatment of Du Bois's life that is sympathetic to Du Bois's struggles.

Meier, August. Negro Thought in America: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington.
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1963.
*This is a good general guide to the social and historical environment in which Du Bois's thinking emerged.

Franklin, John Hope and Moss, Alfred A. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans.
Seventh Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 1994.
*Still the best overall history of the black experience in America.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett Book Shelf


DeCosta-Wills, Miriam. Ida B. Wells: The Memphis Diaries, 1994.
*Excerpts from Ida B. Well's diaries kept during her years as a teacher, journalist, editor, and crusader for equal rights in Memphis, Tennessee.

Duster, Alfreda M. Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.

Jones Royster, Jacqueline, ed. Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1920.
*A collection of Wells' most famous writings of her anti-lynching crusade including: Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, A Red Record, and Mob Rule in New Orleans.


Hendricks, Wanda, Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, in Darlene Clarke Hine et. al., eds., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia,1993.

Thompson, Mildred I. Ida B. Wells-Barnett: An Exploratory Study of an American Black Woman, 1893-1930.

VIDEO: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice, 1990.
A documentary produced for the PBS series, The American Experience.

Langston Hughes Book Shelf


Hughes, Langston. The Big Sea: An Autobiography.
New York: Knopf, 1940).

The Best of Simple.
New York: Hill and Wang, 1961.

I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey.
New York: Rinehart, 1956.
*Hughes's second autobiography is an account of his life since the publication of The Big Sea. Much of this book is devoted to descriptions of his international travel.

The Langston Hughes Reader.
New York: George Braziller, 1958.
*This book is an excellent compilation of some of the best of Hughes's work.

Not Without Laughter.
New York: Knopf, 1930.
*This work of fiction is Hughes's first novel. It is the story of the adventures of Sandy, a young African American boy growing up in a small town in Kansas.

A Pictorial History of Black Americans (4th ed.).
New York: Crown, 1968.
*This joint effort is a nine-part pictorial history of black people in America, from the start of the slave trade to the 1960's.

Selected Poems of Langston Hughes.
New York: Knopf, 1959.
*This book is comprised of a selection of poems chosen by Hughes from his earlier works .

The Ways of White Folks.
New York: Knopf, 1934.
*This book of short stories is considered by many to be Hughes' best novel. It is a sensitive revelation of the impact of race on relations between blacks and whites in America.

The Weary Blues.
New York: Knopf, 1926.
*This is Hughes's first book of poetry. It set the tone for his future poems and was instrumental in earning him the title of the "blues poet."


Berry, F. Langston Hughes Before and Beyond Harlem.
Westport, CT: Lawrence Hill, 1983.
*In the first full-length biographical study of Langston Hughes, Berry, a founding member of the Langston Hughes Society, describes Hughes' personal and professional development and his legacy as a writer.

Bontemps, A. The Harlem Renaissance Remembered.
New York: Dodd, Mead, 1972.
*In this book, Arna Bontemps, Hughes' best friend and a literary figure of the Harlem Renaissance, reflects on the time and the people who comprised this special creative period.

Lewis, D., ed. The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader.
New York: Penguin, 1994.
*This work is a collection of forty-five authors of the Harlem Renaissance era. It includes poetry, short stories, essays, speeches, and excerpts from novels.

Locke, A. The New Negro.
New York: Reiss and Douglass, 1925.
*This book is considered to be the bible of the Harlem Renaissance. It is Alain Locke’s collection of the works of "new Negro" authors. Locke believed this new talent would alert the world to the beginning of the Negro renaissance.

Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes, Volume I: 1902-1941: I, Too, Sing America.
New York: Oxford UP, 1986.
*Rampersad is Hughes' major biographer. This volume covers the first thirty-nine years of Hughes' life, the period during which the majority of his most famous works were written.

The Life of Langston Hughes, Volume II: 1941-1967: I Dream a World.
New York: Oxford UP, 1988.
•The second volume of Rampersad's biography covers the last twenty-six years of Hughes' life from WWII through the Civil Rights Movement. Rampersad reveals how Hughes adjusted to the major national and international political and economic changes which occurred during his lifetime.

Zora Neale Hurston Book Shelf


Hurston, Zora Neale. Dust Tracks on a Road. 1942.
*Hurston's autobiography is an exhuberant and not always truthful telling of her life from childhood to her established success as a prominent American writer.

Jonah's Gourd Vine.
1934. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.
*Hurston's first novel, based at least in part on her father's life, tells the story of a man, John Buddy Pearson, a popular pastor who loves too many women.

I Love Myself When I Am Laughing . . . And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive.
Ed. Alice Walker. New York: The Feminist Press, 1979.
*This Zora Neale Hurston reader contains a collection of essays and short stories by Hurston, as well as excerpts from her longer works, with a Dedication and Afterward by contemporary writer Alice Walker.

Moses, Man of the Mountain. 1939.
*This telling of the story of Moses's Exodus blends the Old Testament story with African myths of Moses.

Mules and Men.
1935. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.
*This is Hurston's famous collection of black American folklore, including tales and hoodoo rituals.

The Sanctified Church.
Ed. Toni Cade Bambara. Berkeley: Turtle Island Foundation, 1983.
*This is an important collection of Hurston's essays on African American folklore, legend, and popular mythology, and includes Hurston's presentation of the significance of the Southern Black Christian church.

Spunk: The Short Stories of Zora Neale Hurston.
Berkeley, Turtle Island Foundation, 1985.
*Hurston's best known short stories are collected in this volume.

Their Eyes Were Watching God.
1937. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.
*This is Hurston's most highly acclaimed novel, and a classic of American literature. It tells the story of Janie Crawford's evolving sense of herself as she leaves the grandmother who raises her, experiences marriage to three different men, and finally returns home.


Gates, Henry Louis and K.A. Appiah. Zora Neale Hurston: Critical Perspectives Past and Present. 1993
*This is an important collection of critical essays focused on Hurston's literary work.

Hemenway, Robert E. Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977.
*This is the best scholarly biography of Zora Neale Hurston written to date.

Holloway, Karla. The Character of the Word: The Texts of Zora Neale Hurston.
Westport: Greenwood Press, 1987.
*This is a significant critical interpretation of Hurston's literary work.

Nathiri, N. Y. Zora! Zora Neale Hurston: A Woman and Her Community.
Orlando: Sentinel Communications Co., 1991.
*This is an accessible presentation of Zora Neale Hurston's life and work that includes interesting background information and photographs.

Walker, Alice. In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens.
New York: Harcout Brace Jovanovich, 1983.
*Includes three significant essays that focus on Hurston: "Saving the Life That Is Your Own: The Importance of Models in the Artist's Life," "Zora Neale Hurston: A Cautionary Tale and a Partisan View," and "Looking for Zora."

Wall, Cheryl A. Women of the Harlem Renaissance.
Bloomington: Indiana U P, 1995.
*This book charts the journeys of women artists of the Harlem Renaissance, including writers and musicians, and places Zora Neale Hurston's work in this interesting context.

Wall, Cheryl A., ed. Zora Neale Hurston: Novels and Stories.
New York: Library of America, 1995.

Wall, Cheryl A., ed. Zora Neale Hurston: Folklore, Memoirs, & Other Writings.
New York: Library of America, 1995.