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A Raisin in the Sun  

A guide to researching the cultural and historical background of Lorraine Hansberry's play
Last Updated: Jan 10, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Books in Our Library

Here are a few of the books we have on this topic in the library.  To find more, try searching the catalog specifically for your topic -- for example  "desegregation" or "little rock", and click Keyword.

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The rise of Jim Crow - James Haskins and Kathleen Benson
Call Number: 305.896 HAS
ISBN: 9780761426400
A history of the system of segration that kept African Americans in poverty and oppression from the end of Reconstruction through the early years of the twentieth century.

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Langston Hughes, before and beyond Harlem - Faith Berry
Call Number: 92 Hughes
A critical biography of the great African-American poet and writer. Talks about Hughes' private and public life as well as his writing and the response it received.

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They called themselves the K.K.K. : the birth of an American terrorist group - Susan Bartoletti
Call Number: 322.4 BAR
Examines the beginnings of the Ku Klux Klan, a group that "became a country within a country, a shadow government with its own constitution, leaders, laws, and police--all dedicated to the principle that white people only should control all aspects of government and society."

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Remember Little Rock : the time, the people, the stories - Paul Robert Walker
Call Number: 379.2 WAL
A study of the rage and contention that surrounded the Little Rock Nine incident. "The product of thirty years of digging behind the conventional account of the crisis, interviewing whites and blacks, officials and students, activists and ordinary citizens."

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Freedom's daughters: the unsung heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970. - Olson, Lynne
Call Number: 323.092 OLS
ISBN: 0684850133
Includes portraits of more than sixty women from the Civil Rights movement, ranging from notable historical figures to lesser-known or unknown women representative of the hundreds whose engagement was crucial to the movement.

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Early Black reformers - James Tackach
Call Number: 323.11 TAC
Primary source material. Contains essays written by early black civil rights advocates including Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois.

On the Web

Some great resources that are available for free on the web:

  • Civil Rights Digital Library
    A collection of primary source photographs, footage, documents, and interviews from museums and news corporations across the country. Use the menu on the left side to search by Media Type for news footage, letters, etc. Or find all sources related to a particular famous day or event.
  • Truman Library: Desegregation of the Armed Forces
    Online archive focusing on President Truman's decision to desegregate the U.S. Armed Forces. Use the tabs at the top-right to find primary sources such as photographs, oral histories, and official reports.
  • Encyclopedia of Chicago
    A wonderful online encyclopedia created by the Chicago History Museum, Northwestern University, and the Newberry Library. This link leads to the general entry on the history of African Americans in Chicago. Follow the cross-reference hyperlinks to related articles, such as one about the South Side or the Chicago Black Renaissance. At the top of the page there is a "See Also" tab with suggestions for related entries, or you can simply search for what you are looking for.
  • Voices of Civil Rights
    Online exhibition at the Library of Congress

News Footage Clip

In this WSB newsfilm clip from February 7, 1959, a reporter speaks from Arlington County in Virginia, where the all-white schools of Arlington County and Norfolk had been desegregated just days before.

Find more videos and other primary source documents at the Civil Rights Digital Library (see link above).

From the WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0871, 42:09/44:25, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.

Library Databases

  • KUA Library Catalog
    Books and documentaries on DVD at KUA. Try a keyword search to get the most results on a topic. Use the "Power" search tool to narrow down: for example, search "civil rights" AND "malcolm x" for items about Malcolm X's role in the Civil Rights movement.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica
    A very current, general, easy-to-use database -- a great alternative to Wikipedia! Simply search by person's name, event, or topic: "booker t washington", "brown v board of education", "great migration", etc.
  • Proquest Historical Newspapers
    A great place to look for primary sources -- every issue ever published by the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and the Hartford Courant. Before you search, try narrowing down by decade (1950s, for example) under Advanced Search to get the most relevant results. If you are looking for a particular event, you can even choose a specific day!
  • CQ Researcher
    A great starting point for current events issues. Find in-depth reports on the state of African American communities in the U.S. today. Most reports include timelines, graphs and charts, and pro/con debate sections.

Off campus?

For access to the databases from off campus, email the librarians for passwords.

Citing Sources


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