Fall 2010 — Prof. Simmons
Questions? Contact Sara Swanson (704-894-2157).
- Office Hours:
- Monday, 3:00 - 4:00 pm
- Wednesday, 3:00-5:00 pm
- Thursday, 3:00 - 5:00 pm
- Also available by appointment.
Group 1: Southern Oral History Program
Group 2: A Hairdresser's Experience in High Life, by Eliza Potter
Group 3: The Black Women Oral History Project: From the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, edited by Ruth Edmonds Hill
Group 4: Encyclopedia of Women's Autobiography, edited by Victoria Boynton and Jo Malin
Please answer the following questions about your group's source:
- What is this source? What does it contain?
- Can it be used to find life narratives? How?
- How would you find more sources like it?
- Do you think it would be useful when doing research for your final paper?
Finding Life Narratives
Library Catalogs | Digital Collections | Other Resources
Life narratives, including memoirs, autobiographies, oral histories, and literature, can be found using library catalogs, digital collections (both subscription-based and on the Web),
and other resources, including print collections.
The Davidson College Library Catalog contains information about primary source materials (including life narratives) owned by Davidson. WorldCat lists materials held in libraries around the world. If Davidson does not have a copy of what you need, use Interlibrary Loan to request it.
Note: Rare and archival materials cannot be borrowed on interlibrary loan. You can sometimes locate microfilm or microfiche copies of these documents in WorldCat; try doing an advanced search, enter your keywords or subject terms, and then apply a “subtype limit,” choosing “Microform” as the format.
To locate life narratives in a library catalog, do an author seach (last name first name) for an individual.
If you do not have the name of an individual, do a keyword search and add one or more of the following words:
- oral history
- personal narratives
Or, try a subject search using one of the following subject headings:
- African American women diaries
- African American women fiction
- African American women history sources
- African American women interviews
- African Americans history sources
- African Americans social conditions sources
- Women black diaries
- Women black fiction
- Women black interviews
- Women history sources
- Women interviews
Many collections are available on the World Wide Web. Listed below are some of the helpful ones for this topic. Be sure to always evaluate websites before using them!
- American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
From American Memory (Library of Congress). Contains 2,900 life histories compiled by the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project. May be searched by keyword or browsed by state.
- American Slavery: A Composite Autobiography
Contains transcripts of approximately 4,000 interviews with former slaves in 17 states; the interviews were conducted in the 1930s under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Searchable by surname, state, county, and subject. Also includes sound files. Other slave narratives can be found at Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories (Library of Congress, American Memory) and North American Slave Narratives (UNC-Chapel Hill, Documenting the American South).
- Civil Rights Documents Project
From the University of Southern Mississipi's Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage. Contains transcripts of interviews with people involved in Mississippi civil rights from 1954-1972. For specific transcripts, click here and here.
- First-Person Narratives of the American South
From Documenting the American South at UNC-Chapel Hill. Contains autobiographies, memoirs, and narratives from Southerners, including African Americans and women.
- North American Women's Letters and Diaries
(c. 1700s to 1950) Contains the full text of letters, diaries, and excerpts of diaries written by American women from the colonial era to the mid twentieth century. Includes texts that were written contemporaneously; excludes memoirs. Provides biographical information for many of the authors.
- Richmond's Church Hill Oral History Collection
From the Virginia Black History Archives (Virginia Commonwealth University). Contains transcripts from 35 interviews with residents from Richmond's Church Hill neighborhood.
- Southern Oral History Program
From the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill. Contains interviews with over 4,000 men and women from the American South, although not all of them have been digitized. Database may be searched by subject, name, occupation, ethnicity, or interview number. Oral Histories of the American South contains 500 digitized versions of these interviews and is organized in the following collections: Charlotte, Civil Rights, Environmental Transformations, Piedmont Industrialization, Southern Politics, and Southern Women.
- Women Writers Online
(1400-1850) Contains the full text of over 200 works written by women in the period 1400-1850.
- The Black Women Oral History Project: From the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. Ed. Ruth Edmonds Hill. 10 vols. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1991.
Little Library Stacks 920.7 B627
Note: The library also has the Guide to the Transcripts of the Black Women Oral History Project Sponsored by the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, located at 920.7 B627 Supp.
- Classic African American Women's Narratives. Ed. William L. Andrews. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.
Little Library Stacks 818.08 C614
- Collected Black Women's Narratives. Anthony G. Barthelemy. New York: Oxford UP, 1988.
Little Library Stacks 920.7 A21
- Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices of Resistance, Reform, and Renewal: An African American Anthology. Eds. Manning Marable and Leith Mullings. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.
Little Library Stacks
- Life Notes: Personal Writings by Contemporary Black Women. Ed. Patricia Bell-Scott. New York: Norton, 1994.
Little Library Stacks
- This Far by Faith: Readings in African-American Women's Religious Biography. Eds. Judith Weisenfeld and Richard Newman. New York: Routledge, 1996.
Little Library Stacks 922 A87
- Sisters of the Spirit: Three Black Women's Autobiographies of the Nineteenth Century. Ed. William L. Andrews. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1986.
Little Library Davidsoniana Room D 081 A572s
Finding Secondary Sources
Books | Articles
Books and articles about black women and/or life narratives can be useful tools when searching for primary sources. Do a search for your topic in a library catalog or article database to find reference to authors, titles, and dates of life narratives. These sources can also provide helpful background and contextual information.
Use library catalogs to find books, videos, government documents, journals, magazines, and newspapers. The Davidson College Library Catalog contains information about materials owned by Davidson. WorldCat lists materials held in libraries around the world. If Davidson does not have a copy of what you need, use Interlibrary Loan to request it.
When searching for books and other materials in a catalog, try searching by keyword, author, or title. You may also search by Library of Congress subject headings. To locate appropriate subject headings, do a keyword search and then browse records. Helpful subject headings include:
- African American women Biography
- African American women Biography History and criticism
- African American women in literature
- American literature African American authors History and criticism
- American prose literature African American authors History and criticism
- American prose literature Women authors History and criticism
- Autobiographical fiction
- Autobiographical fiction American
- Autobiographical fiction American History and criticism
- Autobiographical fiction History and criticism
- Autobiographical fiction Women authors History and criticism
- Autobiography African American authors
- Autobiography Women authors
- Blacks in literature
Starting Points | Other Databases
- Academic Search Premier
(1975 to present) Indexes popular and scholarly articles in a broad range of subject areas; also includes citations to book reviews and citations to articles in several national newspapers.
- OmniFile Full Text Mega
(1982 to present) Indexes articles from over 3,000 scholarly and popular periodicals in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences; also includes the full text of selected articles from over 1,650 of these periodicals.
- Contemporary Women's Issues
(1992 to present) Provides the full text of articles from over 130 periodicals, as well as the text of newsletters, reports, pamphlets, fact sheets, and guides on a wide range of gender-related issues.
- Historical Abstracts and America: History & Life
(Time period covered: 1450 to present [world history]; prehistory to present [U.S. and Canadian history]. Publication coverage: 1954 to present). Indexes journal articles, book chapters, doctoral dissertations, and book reviews. Combines the following two databases, which can also be searched separately:
- Humanities Abstracts
(1907 to present [publication date of articles indexed]) Indexes journal articles and some book reviews on all humanities subjects, including history, classics, art, archaeology, literature, philosophy, and religion.
- Social Sciences Abstracts
(1907 to present) Indexes articles in over 500 English-language periodicals in the fields of anthropology, communication, corrections, economics, environmental studies, ethics, gender studies, geography, international relations, law, political science, psychology, sociology, and related subjects. Includes the full text of selected articles from 1995 to the present.
- Sociological Abstracts
(1963 to present) Provides indexing and abstracting for articles in 1,500 journals and serial publications in the field of sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. Also provides coverage of reviews, monographs, and conference reports in these areas.
Biographies | History, Culture, & Literature
- African American Women: A Biographical Dictionary. Ed. Dorothy C. Salem. New York: Garland, 1993.
- American National Biography
Contains biographical information about more than 17,400 prominent American men and women from all periods of history. Excludes individuals who are still living. Also provides useful bibliographies as well as cross references and links to relevant Web sites.
- Biography Reference Bank
Indexes biographies of over 500,000 people from all time periods and countries; over 175,000 of the biographies are full text. Includes the full text of biographies from major reference works, such as The Grove Dictionary of Art, Current Biography, and The Dictionary of American Religious Biography, among others. Also includes Biography Index (1946-1983).
- Encyclopedia of African American Women Writers. Ed. Yolanda Williams Page. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007.
- Literature Resource Center
Contains full-text biographies, critical essays, journal articles, and excerpts of criticism and reviews about over 130,000 literary authors and their works; covers dramatists, essayists, novelists, poets, and other writers from all time periods.
Includes Contemporary Authors, The Dictionary of Literary Biography, and substantial portions of Gale's other literature criticism series, including the Scribner Writers Series. Also includes the Gale's Literary Index and the Encyclopedia of Literature.
History, Culture, & Literature
- African American Autobiographers: A Sourcebook. Ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002.
- The African American Encyclopedia. Ed. Michael W. Williams. 6 vols. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1993.
Reference R 973.049 A258
Note: The library also has the supplement to the African American Encyclopedia (2 vols, New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1997), shelved at Reference R 973.049 A258.
- Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. Eds. Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2nd ed. 5 vols. New York: Oxford UP, 2005.
- Black Women in America. Ed. Darlene Clark Hine. 2nd ed. 3 vols. New York: Oxford UP, 2005.
920.7 B6271 2005
Note: The library also has the first edition of this encyclopedia (Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. Brooklyn, NY: Carlson, 1993), shelved at Reference R 920.7 B6271.
- The Cambridge Companion to African American Women's Literature. Eds. Angelyn Mitchell and Danielle Taylor. New York: Cambridge, UP, 2009.
- Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History: The Black Experience in the Americas. Ed. Colin A. Palmer. 2nd ed. 6 vols. Detroit: Macmillan Reference, 2006.
- Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-First Century. Ed. Paul Finkleman. New York: Oxford UP, 2009.
- Encyclopedia of African American Society. Ed. Gerald D. Jaynes. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005.
- Encyclopedia of American Cultural & Intellectual History. Eds. Mary Kupiec Cayton and Peter W. Williams. 3 vols. New York: Scribner's, 2001.
- Encyclopedia of American History. Ed. Gary B. Nash. 11 vols. New York: Facts on File, 2003.
- Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Culture. Eds. Gary W. McDonogh, Robert Gregg, and Cindy H. Wong. New York: Routledge, 2001.
- Encyclopedia of Gender and Society. Ed. Jodi O'Brien. 2 vols. Los Angeles: Sage, 2009.
- Encyclopedia of Life Writing: Autobiographical and Biographical Forms. Ed. Margaretta Jolly. 2 vols. London: Fitzroy Dearborn/Routledge, 2001.
Reference R 920.003 E56
- Encyclopedia of Women's Autobiography. Eds. Victoria Boynton and Jo Malin. 2 vols. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005.
- The Female Bildungsroman in English: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism. Laura Sue Fuderer. New York: MLA, 1990.
- Gale Virtual Reference Library
Contains the full text of over two hundred reference books -- including many encyclopedias -- covering a wide variety of disciplines and subjects. Articles can be downloaded in pdf format. The Davidson College Library has some of these books in paper format as well.
This collection is a combination of titles selected and purchased by the Davidson College Library and by NC LIVE.
- The Handbook of African American Literature. Hazel Arnett Ervin. Gainesville: UP of Florida, 2004.
- The Harvard Guide to African-American History. Ed. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2001.