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In addition to this guide, you may also want to consult that on the History of North Africa and the Middle East, as well as the general guide for History.
For questions, comments, and suggestions, please contact Daniel Becker.
Image credit: NASA composite satellite image of the African continent. Wikimedia Commons.
Comprehensive encyclopedia on African history from prehistoric to contemporary times, covering the entire continent.
New Encyclopedia of Africa
Extensive and up-to-date 5-volume encyclopedia covering history, cultures, and societies of the entire African continent. In print: Ref. DT2 .N48 2008.
Comprehensive, 5-volume encyclopedia covering African and African American history, art, literature, politics, religion, and biography. Call Number: Ref. DT14 .A37435 2005.
Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa: Archaeology, History, Languages, Cultures, and Environments
Comprehensive handbook of African history, cultures, and societies before European colonialism, with a particular emphasis on archaeological research on the subject. Call Number: Ref. DT2 .E53 1997.
Historical Dictionaries of Africa
Series of comprehensive handbooks on the history of individual African countries, available in print in the Wheaton Reference Collection.
Animated Atlas of African History, 1879-2002
Provides "a year-by-year presentation of selected themes in the history of Africa between 1879 and 2002" and covers changes in territorial boundaries and names, political systems, economics, and demography. From Brown University.
For overviews of all of African history, look for books in the call number range DT1-DT39, for example:
General History of Africa
Multi-volume history of Africa from prehistory to the twentieth century, commissioned by UNESCO and notable for being co-written by a majority-African group of scholars. 1981-1993. Call Number: DT20 .G45 1981. PDF versions of each volume can also be downloaded freely on the UNESCO website.
Cambridge History of Africa
One of the first major attempts to produce an exhaustive and authoritative multi-volume reference work on the history of Africa, albeit from a mostly Western perspective. The eight volumes published cover the entire continent from prehistory to 1975. 1975-1986. Call Number: DT20 .C282.
To listen to a general history of Africa, the BBC World Service's multi-part radio program The Story of Africa is a great resource.
Key DatabasesHistorical Abstracts [EBSCO]
Indexes journal articles, book reviews, and dissertations pertaining to the history of the world from 1450 to the present (for U.S. and Canada historian, use America: History and Life); 1955 - present.
Extensive online bibliography of materials related to African Studies, compiled under the auspices of the African Studies Centre at the University of Leiden, Netherlands. Coverage begins in the early 19th century.
African Studies Abstracts Online
Abstracts journal articles and book chapters on Africa in the humanities and social sciences. From the African Studies Centre at the University of Leiden, Netherlands. 2003-present.
Additional DatabasesAfrican Journals Online
Database/repository of scholarly journals in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities that are published in Africa, slightly less than half of which are open access publications. Downloading fulltext articles requires (free) registration.
Humanities Full Text [H.W. Wilson / EBSCO]
Indexes journals in the disciplines of archaeology and classical studies, art, folklore, history, language and literature, literary criticism, music and performing arts, philosophy, and religion; includes over 320 full text journals; 1984 - present.
Full-text current and archival articles from 670+ scholarly journals from major university presses covering literature and criticism, history, performing arts, cultural studies, education, philosophy, political science, gender studies, and more. The Library's subscription also includes over 7,000 e-books. Updated continually.
Full text backfiles of over 2,500 core scholarly journals in humanities, social sciences, and sciences. To help you navigate and search JSTOR, check their helpful how-to guide (PDF).
Note: JSTOR includes 16 current titles, but for all others, JSTOR does not contain the most recent 1-7 years of content. Many of these titles are continued in the Library's print and/or electronic subscriptions, however. Check the Journal Finder for complete holdings information.
To find books and e-books, audiovisual materials, board games, and other items held by the Wallace Library or our partners in the HELIN consortium, search the catalog:
Browsing the StacksIf you'd like to just browse the stacks, most books on African history will be in the DT call number range.
However, also check the following areas as appropriate:
- BL 2390-2490 for African religious history, as well as BM 432-440 (history of Judaism in Africa), BP 64 (history of Islam in Africa, or BR 1359-1470 (history of Christianity in Africa);
- CT 1920-2750 and CT 3750-3780 for Africa-related biography;
- HC 800-1085 for economic history;
- HN 771-837 for social history;
- HT 1321-1427 for slavery in Africa;
- JQ 1870-3981 for political history and institutions;
- JV for colonialism (note that books in this area are arranged by the European colonizing power rather than the colonized place; Africa-related books will be interspersed throughout);
- JV 8790-9024 for questions of migration to, from, and within Africa.
An online digital library of scholarly resources from and about Africa including a wide variety of high-quality scholarly materials ranging from archival documents, periodicals, books, reports, manuscripts, and reference works, to three-dimensional models, maps, oral histories, plant specimens, photographs, and slides.
Abolition of the Slave Trade
From the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, an extensive website on the global history of abolition, including essays, maps, and a variety of primary source documents. It "provides resources for exploring the various dimensions and consequences, and the impact of decisions made and actions taken or not taken on four continents two centuries ago. It offers insights into the slave trade to the United States, African resistance, abolitionism, the U.S. Constitution and the Slave Trade Acts, 19th century African-American celebrations of the 1807 Act, the illegal slave trade, the campaign to revive the trade, and the end of the Africans’ deportation."
Snapshot of the digitized archives of the African National Congress (ANC), held at Fort Hare University. It provides a good selection of primary sources on the history of the ANC and the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. Access to the full archives can be requested through an online form and is granted on a case-by-case basis.
African Online Digital Library
Originating at Michigan State University, this digital library contains a variety of multimedia collections on African history and culture, ranging from Islam and state-building in 18th-century Senegambia to the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa.
Open-access digital library on the history of South Africa, primarily during the Apartheid era. It contains wealth of primary sources--both textual and audiovisual--as well as contextual essays.
Herskovits Library of African Studies
The Herskovits Library at Northwestern University holds some unique manuscript, photograph, and poster collections relevant to various aspects of African history, many of which have been digitized and made accessible online.
For historical news, try searching the Daily Mail Historical Archive 1896-2004 [Gale] and the Times (London) Digital Archive [Gale] for coverage of Africa-related events. Contemporary news can be found in AllAfrica .
The Podcast About African History, Culture, and Politics, hosted by two historians from Michigan State University.
African Studies Centre Leiden
One of the most prestigious research institutes for African Studies in Europe. The website contains access to working papers as well as to the ASC's library catalog, which contains records not only of books, but also of articles and book chapters.
Website that aggregates news about and from Africa, drawing on the reporting of more than 140 African and international news organizations.
Meta-search engine for global publications relating to Africa as well as a directory of African Studies experts and research institutes.
Nordic Africa Institute
Well-regarded Swedish research institute for African Studies. Of particular note on its website: the free reference guide to African Studies, Studying Africa: A Guide to the Sources and the curated directory of online resources for African Studies, A Guide to Africa on the Internet.