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History: HIST 350 - Titus

Digital Archival Collection: Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century

This platform includes several collections pulled from libraries and archives:

  • Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Federal Government Records
    • The focus of the Federal Government Records module is on the political side of the freedom movement, the role of civil rights organizations in pushing for civil rights legislation, and the interaction between African Americans and the federal government in the 20th century. 

      Major collections in this module include the FBI Files on Martin Luther King Jr.; Centers of the Southern Struggle, an exceptional collection of FBI Files covering five of the most pivotal arenas of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s: Montgomery, Albany, St. Augustine, Selma, and Memphis; and records from the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations, detailing the interaction between civil rights leaders and organizations and the highest levels of the federal government.

    • A detailed overview of the collection is available from ProQuest.

  • Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Organizational Records and Personal Papers, Part 2
    • This Black Freedom module is highlighted by the records of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Africa-related papers of Claude Barnett, and the Robert F. Williams Papers. SNCC, formed by student activists in 1960 after the explosion of the sit-in movement, was one of the three most important civil rights organizations of the 1960s, alongside SCLC and the NAACP. With the addition of SNCC records, History Vault now includes SNCC, SCLC, and NAACP records. Rounding out this module are the papers of Chicago Congressman Arthur W. Mitchell, the Chicago chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, and records pertaining to the Mississippi Freedom Summer.
    • Refer to the detailed overview from ProQuest.
  • NAACP Papers: The NAACP's Major Campaigns--Education, Voting, Housing, Employment, Armed Forces
    • Major campaigns for equal access to education, voting, employment, housing and the military are covered in this module. The education files in this module document the NAACP’s systematic assault on segregated education that culminated in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Files from 1955 –1965 focus on the NAACP’s efforts to implement the Brown decision as well as to combat de facto segregation outside of the South.
    • Refer to the detailed overview from ProQuest.
  • NAACP Papers: The NAACP's Major Campaigns--Scottsboro, Anti-Lynching, Criminal Justice, Peonage, Labor, and Segregation and Discrimination Complaints and Responses
    • This NAACP module focuses on the NAACP’s efforts regarding anti-lynching, peonage, and discrimination in employment and the criminal justice system. A rich set of records in this module is the NAACP file on one of the most celebrated criminal trials of the 20th century – the case of the Scottsboro boys. In this case, nine young black men were accused of raping two white women on a train in northern Alabama. Sixteen days after their arrest, eight of the nine teenagers were sentenced to death in the electric chair. All eight escaped execution when the Supreme Court, in the landmark case of Powell v. Alabama, ruled that the defendants had been inadequately represented by counsel.
    • Refer to the detailed overview from ProQuest.

Search Techniques:

When searching newspaper database, proximity searching can help you to find relevant results. This allows you to search for a word of phrase within a certain number of nearby words.

For example: "negro church" NEAR10 (burned OR burning)

In other cases, it may be more appropriate to search for specific phrases (use quotation marks), or multiple synonyms with OR, until you know what terms are being used in newspapers.

For example: ("Grandfather's clause" OR "Grandfather clause") AND (Suffrage OR Voting")

Newspaper and Magazine Collections


This collection includes selected articles from numerous publications rather than the full run of specific newspapers. In addition to searching by keyword, the database provides suggested searches based on topics, eras, and specific events.
Historical Newspapers contains several national African-American newspapers, including The Baltimore Afro-American, The Chicago Defender, and The Pittsburgh Courier.


As this database is being built, you may need to refer to the existing Jet access via Google Books. You cannot print from Google, but you can use screenshots and save links when viewing an article
Women's Magazine Archive includes Essence for 1970-2005.