Skip to main content

African Diaspora Studies: Websites

This guide covers materials about the presence of African descended people in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.


African Diaspora in the Indan Ocean World

Over the course of nearly 20 centuries, millions of East Africans crossed the Indian Ocean and its several seas and adjoining bodies of water in their journey to distant lands, from Arabia and Iraq to India and Sri Lanka.

Called Kaffir, Siddi, Habshi, or Zanji, these men, women and children from Sudan in the north to Mozambique in the south Africanized the Indian Ocean world and helped shape the societies they entered and made their own.

Free or enslaved, soldiers, servants, sailors, merchants, mystics, musicians, commanders, nurses, or founders of dynasties, they contributed their cultures, talents, skills and labor to their new world, as millions of their descendants continue to do. Yet, their heroic odyssey remains little known.

The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World traces a truly unique and fascinating story of struggles and achievements across a variety of societies, cultures, religions, languages and times.


Frederick Douglass Papers

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress presents the papers of the nineteenth-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. The release of the Douglass Papers, from the Library of Congress's Manuscript Division, contains approximately 7,400 items (38,000 images) relating to Douglass' life as an escaped slave, abolitionist, editor, orator, and public servant. The papers span the years 1841 to 1964, with the bulk of the material from 1862 to 1895. The collection consists of correspondence, speeches and articles by Douglass and his contemporaries, a draft of his autobiography, financial and legal papers, scrapbooks, and miscellaneous items. These papers reveal Douglass' interest in diverse subjects such as politics, emancipation, racial prejudice, women's suffrage, and prison reform. Included is correspondence with many prominent civil rights reformers of his day, including Susan B. Anthony, William Lloyd Garrison, Gerrit Smith, Horace Greeley, and Russell Lant, and political leaders such as Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. Scrapbooks document Douglass' role as minister to Haiti and the controversy surrounding his interracial second marriage.

African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter

The African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter is published quarterly, with issues in March, June, September, and December, and addresses the subject areas of African diasporas worldwide and related archaeological and historical studies.

Langston Hughes Papers

A portion of the Langston Hughes Papers are available here on Yale
University’s Digital Library site. Hughes' complete papers (1862-1980) are
comprised of "letters, manuscripts, personal items, photographs, clippings,
artworks, and objects" and are available at the Beinecke Rare Book and
Manuscript Library.

Digital Library on American Slavery

The Digital Library on American Slavery offers data on race and slavery extracted from eighteenth and nineteenth-century documents and processed over a period of eighteen years. The Digital Library contains detailed information on about 150,000 individuals, including slaves, free people of color, and whites. These data have been painstakingly extracted from 2,975 legislative petitions and 14,512 county court petitions, and from a wide range of related documents, including wills, inventories, deeds, bills of sale, depositions, court proceedings, amended petitions, among others. Buried in these documents are the names and other data on roughly 80,000 individual slaves, 8,000 free people of color, and 62,000 whites, both slave owners and non-slave owners.

The Louverture Project

The Louverture Project (TLP) collects and promotes knowledge, analysis, and understanding of the Haitian revolution of 17911804. This unique history project follows the example of Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, and is committed to creating a vast, accessible, and useful open content resource. Like Wikipedia, The Louverture Project is built and maintained by a community of users, all of whom have access to and responsibility for editing the 454 pages (and growing) currently online.

Society for Caribbean Studies Conference Papers

There are now 10 volumes of papers available on
othis website which are accessible and searchable free of charge.

 Lydia Cabrera Papers

The University of Miami Libraries' Cuban Heritage Collection is the home of
the Lydia Cabrera Papers.  The digital collection includes  "correspondence, manuscripts,
original drawings, field notes, interviews, photographs, illustrations, and
paper laces."  Those familiar with her documentation of Afro-Cuban culture
and religion will surely learn some new information from this extensive


Housed at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the papers of W.E.B.
Du Bois are an excellent resource for anyone with an interest in American
history. Recently, the University decided to develop a comprehensive online
encyclopedia titled "DuBoisopedia". The hope is that such a volume will
"capture the details, both large and small, that together made up Du Bois's
life and times." With this wiki site, scholars and students are welcome to
add high-quality pieces that illuminate various aspects of Du Bois's life
and they have a team of researchers dedicated to maintaining the accuracy of
the content here.

 St. Croix Population Database, 1734-1917

A searchable, virtual archive, currently consisting of 1.83 million biographical entries painstakingly transcribed from a vast array of historical records found in American, Danish and Virgin Islands archives. The Database constitutes a powerful research tool that will provide scholars, educators, students, genealogists and others with easy access to hitherto inaccessible historical documentation relating to the history of St. Croix and its multi-ethnic, multi-racial population. It will enable Virgin Islanders to investigate, analyze and reconstruct the Past from an indigenous perspective. It will also allow Virgin Islanders, Europeans, Americans and Africans to reconstruct life stories and family histories of forgotten ancestors. And, most significantly, it will permit thousands of families to trace their ancestral roots to individual Africans and to specific African homelands.

African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Historical Society created a website that chronicles
the lives of free and enslaved African Americans in Massachusetts from
the "late seventeenth century through the abolition of slavery under the
Massachusetts Constitution in the 1780s." On the right hand side of any
page is the menu of the categories into which the online collection is
divided.  In addition to such topics as "The Domestic Sale of Slaves",
"Revolutionary Participation", and "The Lives of African Americans in MA
After the End of Slavery", there is a "Bibliography", a "List of All
Featured Documents and Objects", as well as a "Search Tool" that allows
for keyword searching.

Each topic contains several paragraphs of introduction to the materials,
to help visitors understand the context of the materials. The "List of
All Featured Documents and Objects" divides the collection up into
"Artifacts and Paintings", "Printed Items", "Printed Forms Completed in
Manuscript" and "Manuscripts".

Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812-1834

  In 1807 The Abolition of Slave Trade Act came into force. The act made the trade in slaves from Africa to the British colonies illegal. To combat illicit transportation following this act many of the British Colonies began keeping registers of black slaves who had been so-called “lawfully enslaved”. In 1819 the Office for the Registry of Colonial Slaves was established in London and copies of the slave registers kept by the colonies were sent to this office. Registration generally occurred once every three years. The registers continue through to 1834 when slavery was officially abolished.

This database contains the slave registers for the following colonies and years:

Antigua (1817-1818, 1821, 1824, 1828, 1832)
Bahamas (1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)
Barbados (1817, 1820, 1823, 1826, 1829, 1832, 1834)
Berbice (1818-1819, 1822)
Dominica (1817, 1820, 1823)
Grenada (1817-1834)
Honduras (1834)
Jamaica (1817, 1820, 1823, 1826, 1829, 1832, 1834)
Mauritius (1817, 1819, 1822, 1826, 1830, 1832, 1835) Nevis (1817, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831)
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) (1818-1832)
St Christopher (1817, 1822, 1825, 1827-1828, 1831, 1834)
St Lucia (1815, 1819)
St Vincent (1817, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)
Tobago (1819-1834)
Trinidad (1813, 1815-1816, 1819, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)
Virgin Islands (1818, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)

Hunterdon County, New Jersey Freedom Papers

The New Jersey State Archives scanned and posted a collection of freedom papers (slave manumissions) from
Hunterdon County to our website. The manuscripts date from 1788-1836.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination Investigation

The Shelby County (TN) Register of Deeds created a collection of original documents (including some audio files) related to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

New York Historical Society: Slavery Collections

The library of the New-York Historical Society holds among its many resources a substantial collection of manuscript materials documenting American slavery and the slave trade in the Atlantic world. The fourteen collections on this web site are among the most important of these manuscript collections. They consist of diaries, account books, letter books, ships’ logs, indentures, bills of sale, personal papers, and records of institutions. Some of the highlights of these collections include the records of the New York Manumission Society and the African Free School, the diaries and correspondence of English abolitionists Granville Sharp and John Clarkson, the papers of the Boston anti-slavery activist Lysander Spooner, the records of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, the draft of Charles Sumner’s famous speech The Anti-Slavery Enterprise, and an account book kept by the slave trading firm Bolton, Dickens & Co.


Jamaican Court Cases

Harvard Law School Library digitized its copy of Notes of cases adjudged in
Jamaica, May 1774 to Dec. 1787 (Edinburgh : Printed by Adam Neill and
company, 1794). 

African Activist Archive Project

This project is preserving records and memories of activism in the United States to support the struggles of African peoples against colonialism, apartheid, and social injustice from the 1950s through the 1990s. The project is assembling:

  • an online archive of historical materials - pamphlets, newsletters, leaflets, buttons, posters, T-shirts, photographs, and audio and video recordings
  • personal remembrances and interviews with activists
  • a directory of archives of organizations and individuals deposited in libraries and historical societies that are available for further research


Guy Burak's picture
Guy Burak
The Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Librarian

The Elmer Holmes Bobst Library,
New York University
70 Washington Square South (room 1M-05A)
New York, NY 10012