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Baltimore County's cultural heritage includes a wealth of contributions from the African American community.  This page has been compiled by BCPL librarians and links to resources for and about this heritage.


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Arts & Culture


  • African American Department
    at the Central Library of Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Maryland.
    Has books, photographs, church histories, calendars, political campaign literature, pamphlets, event programs, magazines, newspapers, and other printed items about African Americans, their history and culture with major focus on Maryland and the Baltimore area.

  • African American Heritage Festival
    Three day festival held in downtown Baltimore

  • African American Museums
    Lists museums throughout the nation.

  • African-American Sheet Music, 1850-1920
    by The Library of Congress and Brown University
    Search this collection by title, subject or name for digital sheet music, primarily vocal music printed or published in the United States.

  • African Americans in Pro Football
    by Pro Football Hall of Fame
    Describes the firsts in professional football as early as 1902.

  • African Americans in the Sports Arena [PDF]
    by B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library, Long Island University. Highlights the African American role in boxing, horse racing, cycling, track and field, basketball, baseball, and football.

  • Afrocentric Voices in Classical Music
    by the Classical Music Web Ring
    Presents major events and accomplishments by African American vocal musicians. Brief biographies of vocalists and composers, such as Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, Leontyne Price, and others.

  • Archives of African American Music and Culture
    at Indiana University
    Links to sites on popular, religious, classical and popular music, including blues, gospel to R and B, contemporary hip hop, and more.

  • ArtCyclopedia: African-American Artists
    Ranges from Joshua Johnson to current artists found in museums, image archives, and other online resources. Includes sample images of their works with limited biographical information.

  • Baltimore Guide: Cultural Sites
    provided by Soul of America

  • Black Theatre Companies
    by Bridges Web Services
    Professional and nonprofit theatre companies and organizations that present works from primarily an Afrocentric point of view. Includes Northeast listings.

  • Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center
    at Morgan State University, Baltimore Maryland
    State of the art performing arts facility with concert halls and an art museum

  • Dream Baltimore: A Heritage Guide
    by Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association
    Celebrate Baltimore's multicultural heritage including the great African Americans who have called Baltimore home.

  • Harlem Renaissance
    by African American Department of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Maryland
    "In the 1920s, Harlem was home to some of the best black writers, artists, actors and musicians." Briefly discusses the art, literature, music, and theatre and major participants in the Harlem scene.

  • Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro Leagues Baseball
    Exhibits and displays of photographs, artifacts, memorabilia, and graphic panels of both Maryland and U.S. Negro Leagues are showcased. Located on the three floors of the Owings Mills Branch of Baltimore County Public Library at the County Campus Metro Centre at Owings Mills, 10302 Grand Central Avenue, Owings Mills, MD.  It is open during all library operating hours. Self-guided tours of the museum can be taken at your leisure.

  • International Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum
    Brief history of anthem, spiritual and gospel music with video biographies of several vocalists and groups

    The history of the "oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery"

  • Maryland's Underground Railroad and African-American Heritage Travel Guide [PDF]
    from Maryland Office of Tourism Development
    Introduce yourself to the Maryland African American experience. Here you'll find museums and other destinations across the state.

    Devoted to traditional spirituals, and some information on early Gospel songs. Includes lyrics.

  • Official Kwanzaa Web Site
    History, the seven principles, symbols, greetings, and more

  • Reginald F. Lewis Museum
    Three galleries of Maryland’s black heritage. Located in Baltimore.

  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
    of the New York Public Library
    Collects, preserves and provides access to resources documenting the experiences of peoples of African descent throughout the world.


Books & Literature


  • BCPL Hot Titles: African American Fiction and Non-Fiction
    Newly ordered or just received by Baltimore County Public Library.

  • BCPL Reading List: African American Kids Books
    Selected by the librarians at the Baltimore County Public Library, this list of books for young readers covers the gamut of picture books and primary school titles on topics of interest about the African American community.

  • African American Literature Book Club
    Features a bestseller list, book reviews, resources for writers, discussion groups, literary crossword puzzle and poetry readings.

  • BCALA Literary Book Award
    awarded by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association
    These annual awards recognize excellence in adult fiction, nonfiction, poetry and first novelist by African American authors. They also award the SELF-E Literary award for digital content or self-published works to promote diversity in libraries.

    Promotes books written by or about African Americans. Has information on upcoming book fairs and literary events nationwide.

  • Brief Guide to the Harlem Renaissance
    by and The Academy of American Poets
    Offers biographies and essays on the poets and poetry of the Harlem Renaissance.

  • Classic African American Novels and Popular Contemporary African American Novels [PDF]
    compiled by the Arts and Humanities Center, Newark Public Library
    An annotated booklist created in 2002.

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award
    an annual award of the American Library Association
    Honors African American authors and illustrators for outstanding contributions to literature for children and young adult literature.

  • Got To Be Read: Discover Good Books by African American Authors Using the Web
    by African American Department of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Maryland
    If you are looking for novels, reviews, specific types of books by African American authors, or want to find online and face-to-face book discussion groups, discussion boards, and social networking sites that focus on books by African American authors, this guide will help you find something to read.

  • Harlem Renaissance
    by African American Department of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Maryland
    "In the 1920s, Harlem was home to some of the best black writers, artists, actors and musicians."  The literature and theatre created by this movement represents an impressive body of work. Has information on several writers, playwrights and more.

  • Literature and Life: The Givens Collection
    of the University of Minnesota
    Explains briefly the major eras in African American literature beginning with the slave narratives through the 20th century.

  • Literature Resource Center
    provided by Baltimore County Public Library
    Find full text critical analysis and biographies of novelists, poets and essayists from authoritative literary sources. Search by author, title, time period and literary themes. Available on public computers in our libraries or from home with a valid library card registered with Baltimore County Public Library.

  • Online Guide to African American Books
    by African American Books
    Links to authors on the web, reading guides, online books, and more.

  • QBR: The Black Book Review
    Reviews and recommendations for adult and children's fiction and nonfiction and a literary events calendar.

  • Street Fiction
    from Street
    Urban fiction interviews, news and reviews

Civil Rights, Past & Present


  • Baltimore '68: Riots and Rebirth
    from University of Baltimore
    Offers information, oral histories and photographs of the April 1968 civil unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Junior.

  • Baltimore County Human Relations Commission
    Investigates discrimination complaints in the areas of employment, housing, education, public accommodations, and financing within Baltimore County and responds to hate bias incidents.  The Commission does not have jurisdiction over county government, the county board of education, or the community colleges.

  • Baltimore County Office of Fair Practices and Community Affairs
    Addresses the concerns of Baltimore County employees who believe that they have been discriminated against on the basis of age, color, creed, mental or physical disability, national origin, race, religion or sex.

  • Baltimore Riots 1968
    Includes audio recollections and video footage of the riots, photos, and interactive maps of fires, looting and other disturbances during the riots.

  • Brown versus Board of Education
    by The National Archives
    Offers background information and documents, brief biographies of the key figures, and a timeline of events leading to the decision.

  • Brown versus Board of Education National Historical Site
    by National Park Service
    The United States Supreme Court had on its docket cases from Kansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, and Virginia, all of which challenged the constitutionality of racial segregation in public schools. The Court consolidated these five cases under one name, Oliver Brown et al. v. the Board of Education of Topeka. Here is basic information as well as link to an online report [PDF] with more detailed information.

  • Civil Rights: United States Supreme Court Decisions
    by FindLaw
    Major Supreme Court decisions involving civil rights and discrimination starting with the Dred Scott decision

  • Civil Rights Movement Veterans
    Covers "the Freedom Movement as it existed in the South" by the participants including photos, documents and full text of oral histories, statements, interviews, and narratives by Movement veterans.

  • Congress of Racial Equality
    One of the "Big Four" civil rights groups. CORE was there for the protests against "Jim Crow" laws of the 40's, through the "Sit-ins" of the 50's, the "Freedom Rides" of the 60's, to the current demand for human rights. View, listen and read about historical events and key people as seen from the perspective of CORE.

  • King Online Encyclopedia
    Search for civil rights movement figures, events, organizations, and ideas written from Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior’s perspective.

  • Maryland Commission on Human Relations
    "Ensures equal opportunity to all through the enforcement of Maryland's laws against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations and provides educational and outreach services related to the provisions of these laws...."

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
    Its mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination." The NAACP has a long civil rights history and is built on the courage of individuals.

  • Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
    by Public Broadcasting Service
    Historical resources on the era of segregation, violence, and disfranchisement of African Americans

  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
    Inter-faith, advocacy organization committed to non-violent action to achieve social, economic, and political justice. It began under the Presidency of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior with the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

  • Voices of Civil Rights
    a joint project of AARP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and the Library of Congress
    Personal stories and oral histories of the Civil Rights Movement.


Famous African Americans





  • Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society
    Encouraging scholarly studies in academic, local, and family history of African Americans. Local chapter information available.

  • African American Marylanders
    by African American Department of Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore Maryland
    Listing of prominent Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century African Americans with ties to Maryland.

  • The African American Mosaic
    by The Library of Congress
    A "guide for the study of black history and culture". Covers American Colonization Society and the "back to Africa" movement, Abolition movement and famous abolitionists, migrations to the North and West, and the WPA program that documented black culture.

  • African American Odyssey
    by The Library of Congress
    From slavery through the civil rights era, documents the courage and determination of blacks, who faced adverse circumstances and immense odds. The exhibit includes the work of abolitionists in the first half of the nineteenth century and a wealth of primary sources.

  • African Americans in Maryland - Firsts and Facts
    by African American Department of Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Maryland
    Famous firsts by Marylanders

  • Africans in America
    by WGBH Educational Foundation
    Traces the history of slavery in the United States from the the 16th century to the end of the American Civil War in 1865. After selecting the time period of interest, click on the Narrative link. The Resource Bank gives additional information.

  • Baltimore County Department of Planning Maps and Research Links: African American History
    Links to maps and several publications including:

  • African American History Research Links [PDF]
    cites newspaper and other sources referring to local African Americans, local events and buildings associated with local African Americans.

  • Mapping a Paradox: The African American Cultural Landscape in Antebellum Baltimore County Maryland by Kimberly Abe [PDF]
    details pre-Civil War Baltimore County, and includes documentation on the remaining slavery-related structures and sites.

    Doorway to information on people, places, institutions, events, timelines covering African American history. Includes full text primary documents, audio, video, photos, and major speeches of black activists and leaders from the 18th Century to the present.

  • Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives
    provided by The Library of Congress.
    Contains first person accounts of slavery and black and white photographs of former slaves collected from the Federal Writer's Project, 1936 to 1938.

  • Baltimore Metropolitan Area Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers
    History and membership membership information

  • Buffalo Soldiers of the American West
    History of the Buffalo soldiers including photos

  • From Frederick to Thurgood: Black Baltimore in Transition 1870 to 1920
    presented by the Maryland State Archives, Maryland Historical Trust, Baltimore Heritage Research Collaborative
    Discusses Baltimore City's historic black communities, the people and institutions which influenced the heritage of the city. NOTE: In most instances the user name and password of aaco; aaco# will work on links requiring registration.

  • Historical Text Archive
    Find full text articles, essays and documents, e-books and links on African American history.

  • Local History Page
    Provided by Baltimore County Public Library
    Includes Baltimore County, Maryland, United States, world and women’s history. Find local historical societies, historic sites, Baltimore County community histories, and local historic photos.

  • History of African Americans in the Civil War
    by the National Park Service.
    A brief overview of African Americans serving in the Union Army and the battles they fought.

  • History Research Databases
    provided by Baltimore County Public Library
    Find full text online reference books, encyclopedias, non-fiction books, magazines on historical topics, historical documents. Also biographies of historical figures; historical photos and maps, articles from historical newspapers and a local historical photograph database. Available on public computers in our libraries or from home with a valid library card registered with Baltimore County Public Library.

  • Images of African Americans from the 19th Century
    from Digital Schomburg Collection of New York Public Library
    Images of black history and culture from the 1800s

  • Images of African American Slavery and Freedom
    from the Library of Congress

  • In Motion: The African American Migration Experience
    from the New York Public Library's Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture.
    Interprets African American movement from one place to another from the 1450s to the present day and the impact on black history and culture. Includes images and maps.

  • Integration of the Armed Forces
    July 26, 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the integration of the armed forces

  • Legacy of Slavery in Maryland
    by Maryland State Archives
    Information on lynchings in Maryland during the Jim Crow era 1860s to 1930, stories of escaped slaves, and other research on slavery in Maryland.

  • Lest We Forget: The Triumph Over Slavery
    created by The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library
    An overview of the enslavement of Africans, the transatlantic slave trade, struggle against slavery, slave labor, family life, and more.

  • Local Museums and Historical Sites
    presented by Baltimore County Public Library
    African American museums and historic sites in and around Maryland.

  • Negro League Baseball Players Association
    Honors the significant contribution of Negro Leagues players to baseball.  Find information on teams, players, ballparks, and more.

  • Negro Leagues Legacy
    offered by Major League Baseball
    Interviews and testimonies from Negro League players as well as video clips. Numerous articles on the Leagues, team histories, player profiles, and photographs.

  • Newspaper Research Databases
    provided by Baltimore County Public Library
    Search for full text articles and obituaries in several current and historic newspapers, including the Baltimore Sun and the Baltimore Afro-American Newspaper: 1893 - 1988. All are available on public computers in our libraries and some from home with a valid library card registered with Baltimore County Public Library.

  • Online Encyclopedia of Significant People and Places in African American History
    By A starting point for descriptions of individuals, places and events which have contributed to black history

  • Slavery and the Making of America
    by Educational Broadcasting Corporation
    History of American slavery from its beginning to the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. Presents personal narratives, images and other materials highlighting the lives of slaves, their living conditions, and more.

  • Slavery at Hampton
    Information about the Ridgely slaves in the context of the National Park Service historic site located in Towson, Maryland.

  • Today in Black History
    Daily calendar of historical events. Searchable by date or keywords.

  • Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
    sponsored by Emory University
    Look for particular voyages in this database of documented slaving expeditions. Find estimates on the numbers of slaves and interactive pages on the many routes of the slave trade.

  • Underground Railroad
    presented by the National Geographic Society
    This interactive site takes you aboard the Underground Railroad on a journey to freedom. Download and install the free Sandstone Player Software to play on your computer.

  • Underground Railroad: Escape from Slavery
    by Scholastic, Inc.
    Follow what it meant to be a slave along the Underground Railroad in this interactive site.

  • Voices from the Days of Slavery
    by The Library of Congress
    Read transcripts or listen to recorded interviews of former slaves born between 1823 and the early 1860s. They discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, their treatment, their families, and freedom.

Revised: December 20, 2017