Central Wisconsin History Collaborative

A Teaching American History Grant Project    



African American History


Print Media

Electronic Media

Lesson Plans & Misc.


Print Media:

Titles in red are scholarly publications.  Books recommended for the classroom follow below.

  • Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South, Ira Berlin, (1981).
  • In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, and Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860, James O. Horton and Lois Horton, (1997).
  • North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860, Leon Litwack, (1961).
  • Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America, Ira Berlin, (1998).
  • Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial America, Peter H. Wood, (2002).
  • How Did American Slavery Begin?, Edward Countryman, ed., (1999).
  • The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution, Sidney Kaplan and Emma Nogrady Kaplin, (revised edition, 1989).
  • Stylin': African-American Expressive Culture from Its Beginnings to the Zoot Suit, Shane White and Graham White, (1998).
  • When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America, Paula Giddings (Harper Collins Publishers, 1996).  From the Publisher: 'When and Where I Enter reveals the immense moral power black women possessed and sought to wield throughout their history—the same power that prompted Anna Julia Cooper in 1892 to tell a group of black clergymen, "Only the black woman can say 'when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole . . . race enters with me.'"
  • Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery, Leon F. Litwack (Knopf Publishing Group, 1980).  This book included primary sources about the immediate aftermath of slavery.
  • Africa in America: Slave Acculturation and Resistance in the American South and British Caribbean, Michael Mullin (1992).
  • Roll Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made, Eugene D. Genovese (Vintage Press, 1976).  "Reevaluates such stereotypes as the black Mammy and the black slave-driver and provides a brilliant analysis of the role of Christianity in slave culture." -- The New York Times Books of the Century.
  • Creating Black Americans: African-American History and its Meanings, 1619 to the Present, Nell Irvin Painter (Oxford University Press, 2006).  Readable and full of excellent images of African-American art.
Cover Image
  • Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom, Lawrence W. W. Levine (Oxford University Press, 1978).  '...Through an exhaustive investigation of black songs, folk tales, proverbs, aphorisms, verbal games and the long narrative oral poems known as 'toasts, ' Levine argues that the value system of Afro-Americans can only be understood through an analysis of Black culture....His work ranks among the best books written on the Afro-American experience in recent years.' Al-Tony Gilmore, The Washington Post.
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (autobiography), Harriet A. Jacobs (Dover Publications, 2001).  This autobiographical account by a former slave is one of the few extant narratives written by a woman. Written and published in 1861, it delivers a powerful, unflinching portrayal of the brutality of slave life. Jacobs speaks frankly of her master's abuse and her eventual escape, in an amazing and inspirational account of one woman's dauntless spirit and faith.
  • My Bondage and My Freedom (autobiography), Frederick Douglass (Penguin Group, 2003).  Douglass' autobiography including his famous roll in the abolition movement.
  • David Walker's Appeal, in Four Articles, David Walker, (1965 ed.).
  • Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, An American Slave (1845).
  • Ira Berlin et al., Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation: Series 1, vol. I: The Destruction of Slavery; Series 2: The Black Military Experience (1982).
  • Ira Berlin and Leslie Rowland, eds. Families and Freedom: A Documentary History of African-American Kinship in the Civil War Era (1997).
  • Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work , and the Family Since Slavery (1985).
  • Greenfield, Eloise.  Mary McLeod Bethune.  Harper Collins, 1997.  Biography of Mary Jane McLeod Bethune who made numerous contributions to education for African-Americans.  RL: 3.5


  • Polacco, Patricia.  The Keeping Quilt.  Simon & Schuster, 1998. A homemade quilt ties together the lives of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family, remaining a symbol of their enduring love and faith. RL: 5.3
  • Patricia Polocco. (1994) Pink and Say. Philomel Books.  Chronicles the friendship of Pink, a fifteen-year-old African-American Union soldier, and Say, his poor white comrade, as one nurses the other back to health from a battle wound and the two of them are imprisoned at Andersonville. Based on a true story. RL: 4.9
  • Turner, Ann. (1987) Nettie's Trip South.  Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. A ten-year-old northern girl encounters the ugly realities of slavery when she visits Richmond, Virginia, and sees a slave auction. RL: 3.0
  • Faith Ringgold. (1996) Tar Beach. Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers. A young girl dreams of flying above her Harlem home, claiming all she sees for herself and her family. RL3.4
  • McKissack, Patricia. (2001) Goin' Someplace Special. Atheneum/Anne Schwartz Books.  "Tricia Ann excitedly gets her grandmother's permission to go out by herself to 'Someplace Special' --a place far enough away to take the bus and to have to walk a bit. But this isn't just any trip. Tricia's trip takes place in the segregated South of the 1950s. She almost gives up, but a local woman...shows her how to listen to the voice inside herself that allows her to go on. She arrives at her special destination--the public library, whose sign reads "All Are Welcome.  RL 4.3
  • Coles, Robert, The Story of Ruby Bridges, Scholastic: 1995.  Ruby must confront the hostility of white parents when she becomes the first African American girl to integrate Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.  RL 4.4


  • Feldman, Eve B., They Fought for Freedom: Children in the Civil Rights Movement, McGraw Hill School Division. 

  • Miller, William, Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery, Lee and Loew Books: 1995.  A true account from the life of the famous writer and activist.  RL 4.1

  • Rappaport, Doreen, Martin’s Big Words: the Life of Dr. Martian Luther King, Jr.,   Hyperion Books For Children: 2001.  An homage in word and pictures, in which the author weaves King's words with her own to present a brief but stately portrait of the American hero. Rappaport explains that as a child King was determined to use 'big words,' no doubt the result of listening to his father preach...In fact, King's words were huge in idealism, delivering a message that was big in simple yet profound ways that can be understood by young readers.  RL 3.4


Booker T. Washington
  • Troy, Don, Booker T. Washington, The Child’s World: 1999. 


  • Douglas, Frederick, Escape from Slavery: The Boyhood of Frederick Douglas in His Own   Words, Alfred A. Knopf: 1994.  A shortened autobiography presenting the early life of the slave who became an abolitionist, journalist, and statesman.


  • Fradin, Denis Brindell, Bound for the North Star, Clarion Books: 2003.  Provides twelve accounts of how slaves escaped from their owners. RL 7.3


  • Hamilton, Virginia,  Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom,    Alfred A. Knopf: 1993.  Recounts the journey of Black slaves to freedom via the underground railroad, an extended group of people who helped fugitive slaves in many ways. RL 6.9


  • Hopkinson, Deborah, A Band of Angels, Athenum Books for Young Readers: 1999  The daughter of a slave forms a gospel singing group and goes on tour to raise money to save Fisk University.  RL 4.4

  • Hopkinson, Deborah, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, Alfred A. Knopf: 1993  A young slave stitches a quilt with a map pattern which guides her to freedom in the North.  RL 3.8

  • Hopkinson, Deborah, Under the Quilt of Night, Athenum Books for Young Readers: 2001  A young girl flees from the farm where she has been worked as a slave and uses the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom in the north.  RL 3

  • Rappaport, Dorean, Freedom River, Hyperion Books for Children: 2001  Describes an incident in the life of John Parker, an ex-slave who became a successful businessman in Ripley, Ohio, and who repeatedly risked his life to help other slaves escape to freedom.  RL 3.3


  • Clark, Margaret Goff, Freedom Crossing, Scholastic, Inc.: 1980  After spending four years with relatives in the South, a fifteen-year-old girl accepts the idea that slaves are property and is horrified to learn when she returns North that her home is a station on the underground railroad.  RL 4.6


  • Collier, James Lincoln & Collier, Christopher, Jump Ship to Freedom, Dell Publishing  1981  In 1787 a fourteen-year-old slave, anxious to buy freedom for himself and his mother, escapes from his dishonest master and tries to find help in cashing the soldier's notes received by his father for fighting in the Revolution.  RL 5.3


  • Curtis, Christopher Paul, The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, Delacourte Press, 1995  The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watson’s, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.  RL 5

  • Fox, Paula, Slave Dancer, Yearling Books; 1973  Kidnapped by the crew of an Africa-bound ship, a thirteen-year-old boy discovers to his horror that he is on a slaver and his job is to play music for the exercise periods of the human cargo.  RL 6


  • Fritz, Jean, Brady, Puffin Books: 1988  A young Pennsylvania boy takes part in the pre-Civil War anti-slavery activities.  RL 5.6

  • Lester, Julius, To Be a Slave, Dial Books, 1969  A compilation, selected from various sources and arranged chronologically, of the reminiscences of slaves and ex-slaves about their experiences from the leaving of Africa through the Civil War and into the early twentieth century.  RL 6.9

  • O’Dell, Scott, My Name is Not Angelica, Houghton Mifflin: 1989  Relates the experiences of a young Senegalese girl brought as a slave to the Danish owned Caribbean island of St. John during the slave revolt of 1733-1734.  RL 4.8


  • Porter, Connie, Meet Addy, Pleasant Slavery: 1993  Nine-year-old Addy Walker escapes from a cruel life of slavery to freedom during the Civil War.  RL 4

  • Rappaport, Doreen, Escape From Slavery, Harper Collins: 1999  Five accounts of black slaves who managed to escape to freedom during the period preceding the Civil War.  RL 5

  • Taylor, Mildred D., Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Puffin Books: 1991  A black family living in Mississippi during the Depression of the 1930s is faced with prejudice and discrimination which its children do not understand.  RL 5.7

  • Cooper, Michael L., Slave Spirituals and the Jubilee Singers, Clarion Books: 2001  Discusses the famous Jubilee Singers who performed before Queen Victoria and President Ulysses Grant while singing the "spirituals" which once raised the despair of slaves to celebrating moments.  RL 7.8


  • King, Casey, and Osborne, Linda Barrett, Oh, Freedom! Kids Talk about the Civil Rights Movement with the People Who Made It Happen, Alfred A. Knopf: 1997  Interviews between young people and people who took part in the civil rights movement accompany essays that describe the history of efforts to make equality a reality for African Americans.  RL 7

  • The Civil Rights Movement in America: From 1865 to the Present, Patricia and Frederick McKissack (Scholastic Library, 1991). From the beginning of Reconstruction to the present, traces the struggle of blacks to gain their civil rights in America, with a brief comparison of their problems to those of other minorities. 
Book Cover
  • The Drinking Gourd, F.N. Monjo (Harper Collins Children's Book, 1991).  When he is sent home alone for misbehaving in church, Tommy discovers that his house is a station on the underground railroad.  RL 3
  • Famous African-American Women, Janet Baine Kopito.
  • I Have a Dream: The Story of Martin Luther King, Margaret Davidson, (Scholastic Inc., 1986).  A brief biography detailing the major achievements of the black leader who worked for equal rights for black people.  RL4.8
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd, Jeanette Winter (Knopf Alfred A., 1992).  By following the directions in a song, "The Drinking Gourd," runaway slaves journey north along the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada.  RL4.3
  • Rosa Parks: From the Back of the Bus to the Front of a Movement, Camilla Wilson (Scholastic Inc., 2001).  A biography of the woman whose actions led to the desegregation of buses in Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1960s and who was an important figure in the early days of the civil rights movement.  RL4
  • Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America, Tonya Bolder (Harry N. Abrams Inc., 2001).  Describes the joys and struggles of African American children growing up in America from the 1600s to the present.  RL7.7
  • When Marian Sang, Pam Munoz Ryan (Scholastic Inc., 2002).  An introduction to the life of Marian Anderson, extraordinary singer and civil rights activist, who was the first African American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera, whose life and career encouraged social change.  RL5.2
  • Young Rosa Parks: Civil Rights Heroine, Anne Benjamin (Troll Communications L.L.C., 1996).  Tells the story of young Rosa Parks, an African-American whose refusal to give up her seat on the bus to a white person in Alabama in 1955 marked the beginning of the end of segregation.  RL3.8
  • African Americans in the 13 Colonies, Deborah Kent (Scholastic Library, 1996). 
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  • Atlas of African-American History, James Ciment (Checkmark Books, 2001).  From the Publisher:  Since their first arrival in the New World, the experiences of individual ethnic groups have often been lost in the larger story of American history. Using a wide arrangement of visual tools, this atlas offers a detailed overview of the experiences and important events surrounding Americans of African descent. The atlas provides a comprehensive historical overview of what is known as the African Diaspora-the spread of African people and culture throughout the Americas. It is the perfect addition to any African-American studies collection. Photographs, line graphs, charts, chronologies, box features, and maps help explore the cultural, historical, political, and social history of African Americans. Coverage also profiles key events and issues in their homeland, especially those factors that influenced their movement to the United States.
  • Adler, David A.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. {IL K-3, 323} -- Holiday House, c2001., RL 4.2, 48p.
    Tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his life, accomplishments in the civil rights movement, and his impact on American history.  





  • Adler, David A.  A picture book of Rosa Parks {IL K-3, 323} -- Holiday House, c1993., RL 2.7, 32p.
    A biography of the Alabama African-American woman whose refusal to give up her seat on a bus helped establish the civil rights movement.





  • Birtha, Becky, Grandmama's pride {IL K-3, -E-} Albert Whitman, 2005., RL 4.2, 32p.
    While on a trip in 1956 to visit her grandmother in the South, six-year-old Sarah Marie experiences segregation for the first time, but discovers that things have changed by the time she returns the following year.




  • Edwards, Pamela Duncan.  The bus ride that changed history : the story of Rosa Parks {IL K-3, 323} -- Houghton Mifflin, 2005., RL 2.2, 32p.
    A cumulative narrative tells the story of Rosa Parks, an African-American woman who sparked the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, for a white man.





  • Haskins, James, Delivering justice : W.W. Law and the fight for civil rights {IL K-3, 323} -- Candlewick Press, 2005., RL 2.1, 30p.
    An illustrated account of mailman and civil rights leader Westley Wallace Law's role in the non-violent movement to desegregate Savannah, Georgia, in the 1960s.

  • Johnson, Angela, A sweet smell of roses {IL K-3, -E-} -- Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2005., RL 3.4, 32p.
    Two young girls participate in a freedom march and listen to Dr. Martin Luther King speak during the Civil Rights movement.

  • Levine, Michelle. Rosa Parks {IL K-3, 323}  Compass Point, c2005., RL 2.8, 32p.
    Presents a brief biography of Rosa Parks, discussing her early life and the restrictions she faced due to segregation laws in Alabama, and telling the story of how she became a hero of the civil rights movement in 1955 after refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white person.

Electronic Media:



Fort Mose




The Cultural Landscape of the Plantation




Africans in America




Virginia Runaways Project




African American Women Writers from the 19th Century



Important Black Abolitionists
Exploring Amistad
"Been Here So Long": Selections from the WPA American Slave Narratives
The Roberts Case and the Efforts to Desegregate Boston Schools
The Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act
Freedmen and Southern Society Project (University of Maryland, College Park)
Shadow Ball: The Negro Baseball Leagues
African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murry Collections, 1818-1907
W.E.B. DuBois Resources
Up South: African-American Migration in the Era of the Great War
Harlem: The Mecca of the New Negro
Harlem 1900-1940: An American American Community
African American Odyssey: The Depression, New Deal, and World War II
Tuskegee Airmen
The Zoot Suit Riots
We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement
Little Rock 1959: Pages from History-The Central High Crisis
The Civil Rights Era
How Race Is Lives in America



Lesson Plans & Miscellaneous.:


Eric Foner's (Columbia University) handouts concerning

     Definitions of "American Freedom"


Dave Johnson's (Whitefish Bay School District) lesson plan handouts:

     Predict Dred Scott

          Who Said It #3


Revised 08/25/2008  


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