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Black History Month

Two African American Newspapers Newly Available Online – Baltimore Afro-American & Norfolk Journal and Guide

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The Government and Heritage Library has two African American newspapers newly available for online research: The Baltimore Afro-American and The Norfolk Journal and Guide! Both newspapers are accessible through the ProQuest Historical Newspapers database.

Currently, these databases are available on site AND to North Carolina state agency employees anywhere with their State Library card. Users may perform keyword and advanced searches as well as browse by publication year, month, and issue number.

The Baltimore Afro-American – Coverage: 1893 – 1988

Provides full text and citation/abstract coverage from April 29, 1893 to February 6, 1988, with some exceptions. This weekly newspaper is published in Baltimore, Maryland, and is still in print with current issues available at

From the newspaper’s Facebook page (accessed 2017-02-24):

The Afro-American Newspaper was founded in 1892 by John Henry Murphy Sr., a former slave, when he combined his church newspaper “The Sunday School Helper” with two other Baltimore newspapers. Murphy led his newspaper to national fame by the time of his death in 1922, when it was led by his son Carl Murphy, who headed the paper for 45 years and established 13 national editions. Many prominent Black journalists and writers have worked for the Afro-American, including William Worthy, J. Saunders Redding, and Langston Hughes. It remains in the Murphy family, today led by publisher John Oliver.

Other reading about the history of the Baltimore Afro-American can be found here: PBS – Newspaper Biographies: The Afro-American

The Norfolk Journal and Guide – Coverage: 1916 – 2003

Provides full text and citation/abstract coverage from September 30, 1916 – December 30, 2003, with some exceptions. This paper was published in Norfolk, Virginia, and was founded on April 14, 1900. It is still printed today with new issues available at

From the newspaper’s Facebook page (accessed 2017-02-24):

The New Journal and Guide is Virginia’s oldest Black weekly newspaper and part of what makes Norfolk great. Now celebrating more than 100 years of continuous publication, we are a proud member of the African American Press comprising some 300 newspapers across the nation.

Other reading about the history of the Norfolk Journal and Guide can be found here: PBS – Newspaper Biographies: Norfolk Journal and Guide

Questions about these resources or researching at the Government and Heritage Library? Please feel free to email us at slnc.reference[at]ncdcr[dot]gov or call 919-807-7450!

Celebrating North Carolina’s African American History: Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and the History of Black History Month

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Celebrating North Carolina’s African American History:  Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and the History of Black History Month

This month we honor and celebrate our country’s African American heritage. And just a few weeks ago a fellow librarian shared the name of an extraordinary North Carolina woman I had never heard of – and that NCpedia was missing among its entries on African Americans and women: Anna Julia Haywood Cooper. I was grateful to learn this and to be able to add her biography to NCpedia thanks to Ansley Wegner at the Office of Archives and History.

Portrait of Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, from her "Voice from the South," published 1892 by the Aldine Printing House, Xenia, Ohio

Portrait of Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, from her “Voice from the South,” published 1892 by the Aldine Printing House, Xenia, Ohio

Living to a remarkable 96 years of age, Anna Cooper was born a slave sometime around 1858 in Raleigh, her mother a slave in the home of Dr. Fabius Haywood. Anna Cooper attended St. Augustine’s Normal School after the Civil War and then received an M.A. in Mathematics from Oberlin in 1887. In addition to a teaching career, she became a brilliant and outspoken advocate for African American history, culture and education and feminism.

As a federally recognized observance, African American History Month first began by Presidential Proclamation of Gerald Ford in 1976, coincidentally the country’s bicentennial. More significant, 1976 was the 50th anniversary of the celebration of Negro History Week, begun in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson as an outgrowth of his founding of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in Chicago in 1915. An historian, journalist, and advocate for systematic research into the neglected and buried history of African Americans, Woodson had put the event in motion in 1924 by urging members of his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, to organize Negro History and Literature Week, which became Negro Achievement Week.

In 1925, the 50th anniversary of Emancipation, the ASNLH organized the national celebration to take place in February 1926. February was chosen for its association with two February birthdays historically celebrated in Black Communities: Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and Frederick Douglass on February 14. Although Woodson apparently originally intended the week in February as a one-time celebration, the event quickly spurred the growth of organizations and community groups who responded with annual celebrations. By the 1950s, Negro History Week was celebrated in cities and communities across the country.  And building on the heels of the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement, and the 50 year history of Negro History Week, President Gerald Ford made the first federal proclamation of African American History Month in 1976. All presidents since have issued the February proclamation.

Explore these resources:

Wegner, Ansley. “Anna Julia Haywood Cooper.” NCpedia.

Cooper, Anna Julia Haywood. Voice from the South.  Xenia, Ohio: Aldine Printing House, 1892.

Gerald Ford, Message on the Observance of Black History Month, February 1976.

Barak Obama, Presidential Proclamation — National African American History Month, 2015.

NCpedia resources on African Americans and African American History in North Carolina.

African American Education, North Carolina Digital Collections,

Works by and about Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, from WorldCat (searches the holdings of libraries around the world),

Kelly Agan, NCpedia Digital Media Librarian, Government & Heritage Library

Black History Month at GHL: Online Sources

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image of African; words say "Celebrate Black History Month"Yesterday was the official start to Black History Month. Over the years, I have done posts for Black History Month on specific topics within African American genealogy (see below for a list). This year, I want to post about online sources for research. Among these 8 sources below are digitized records and record transcripts, guides to more information, and additional lists of even more sources. (more…)

Free Genealogy Workshop Schedule for 2015

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Saturday Genealogy Programs

Join us for free genealogy programs presented by the North Carolina Government and Heritage Library and the State Archives of North Carolina


February 21, 2015, 10-11a.m.: Finding Your African-American Ancestors

This session introduces research techniques for finding African-American ancestors prior to 1870.  We will discuss slave laws during this time period and what materials are available at both the Government and Heritage Library and the State Archives.


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