About This Guide


Omar Ibn Said, DeRosset Family papers (P214/1)

The first version of the Guide to African American Resources in the Southern Historical Collection was produced in the fall of 1995 by Lauren A. Kerr, Katrin D. Hardikar, Timothy Pyatt, and Richard A. Shrader. It was revised in 2005 by Ashley Doar and Rachel Canada, with thirty-six entries representing new collections and many notes reflecting additions to existing collections. This online guide reflects revisions made from 2008 – 2010 by Biff Hollingsworth, Holly Smith, and other staff.  It currently includes over nine hundred collections, with over two hundred new entries and several hundred additions to existing collections.

The Southern Historical Collection (SHC) in Wilson Library at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a long tradition for documenting the history and culture of the American South. Because African Americans have played an integral and leading role in forming that history, records relevant to African-American life and culture constitute a prominent portion of the department’s holdings of over fifteen million items.

The majority of the collections documented in this guide are plantation records from the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction period. Entries for these collections discuss topics such as slaves and plantation labor, and later, the hiring of freedmen. There are also twentieth-century collections covering topics such as desegregation, busing, race relations, and civil rights. There are a number of collections created by African American families, businesses, etc.

The Guide also contains collections from the Southern Folklife Collection (SFC), which consist of archival materials related to the music and popular culture of the American South. While the SHC and SFC are distinctive collections, there are a number of SFC collections with materials related to African Americans. For more information on the SFC, please click here for the SFC homepage and staff contact information.

Each entry in the Guide contains the name of the creator of the collection, the collection number, a link to the collection finding aid. (A finding aid is an inventory of the items in a particular collection), and the collection abstract. Beneath the abstract is a staff-created “Collection Highlights” entry, which describes the portion of the collection pertaining to African Americans. The complete summary records for collections are available through the library’s online catalog. An alphabetic list of all the finding aids are available on the Southern Historical Collection website: (http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss).

At the end of each entry, there will be a space for users to make comments on the collection. Comments can include a reference to a  folder or item a user found particularly useful, links to other websites that might be relevant, etc. We invite users of this Guide to contribute their comments and observations. Like other blogs, users of the Guide will be required to register in order to add comments. We kindly request that users keep comments congenial and relevant to the topic of this research guide, and will remove comments that can be deemed potentially offensive. Users recognize that their comments will posted in a public forum.

Every attempt has been made to make this guide as accurate as possible. Comments, additions, corrections, and revisions are welcome. Please send comments to the Southern Historical Collection at mss@email.unc.edu.