Primary Sources and Government Documents for the Study of African American History and CultureGovernment documents are essential in the study of any issue surrounding African American history and culture. Hundreds of items documenting government action (or inaction) can be found throughout our holdings. It is important to note that many primary sources contain outdated and, in some cases, offensive language and it is important to view them within the proper context of the period. As citizens it is your right to have access to these documents and as students it is your responsibility to use them whenever possible.

Crucial Documents | Congress and Legislation | State and Local | Microforms | Military
Education and Discrimination | Memory and Culture | More Links

Crucial Documents

These are the documents which had a profound effect on the lives of countless African Americans. From the Emancipation Proclamation made by President Lincoln, which freed slaves in the secessionist southern states, to the Kerner Commission report, which relayed the dismal effect racism and discrimination had on urban communities. These crucial documents often take the form of Presidential actions such as executive orders.

More Presidential sources can be found using our Presidential Papers Guide

Civil Rights Act of 1964 (1964)
Author/Agency: U.S. Government Printing Office
Location: IUCat -- AE 2.111: v.78 (Statutes)

Emancipation Proclamation(1863)
Author/Agency: U.S. Government Printing Office
Location: IUCat -- AE 2.111: Vol. 12 (Statutes)

National Voting Rights Act of 1965 (1965)
Author/Agency: U.S. Government Printing Office,
Location: IUCat -- AE 2.111: v.79 (Statutes)

Negro population 1790-1915 (1918)
Author/Agency: United States. Bureau of the Census.
Location: IUCat - C 3.2:N 31 (Secure)
Online: Census Bureau ttp://

Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1968)
Author/Agency: United States. Kerner Commission.
Location: IUCat
Online: Rutgers

United States Constitution (2002)
Author/Agency: Government Printing Office
Location: IUCat -- Y 1.1/2: Serial 14866
Online: National Archives
13th Amendment
14th Amendment
15th Amendment

Congress and Legislation

Other crucial documents take the form of Laws enacted by congress such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of the following year. Laws can be found in print in the Statutes at Large, located in ET2 reference. Some important pieces of legislation do not become law but still has an influence on the process. There are a variety of online resources to help find and track legislation.

ProQuest Congressional: Find legislative histories and view full text information on the creation of bills
GovInfo: 94th Congress to present : Find information on more current legislation (1989-Present) and the congresspersons
Hein Online: Search for full texts of the Congressional Record and the Federal Register
Government Information, Maps, and Microform Services' Guide to Congress

Apology for the Enslavement and Racial Segregation of African-Americans (2008)
Author/Agency: Government Printing Office
Location: Congressional Record, July 29, 2008
Online: Hein Online (Login Required)

Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007 (2008)
Author/Agency: Committee on House Administration
of the U.S. House of Representatives
Location: IUCat -- Y1.1/2: Serial 14904
Online: Black Americans in Congress website

Church burnings: hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary (1996)
Author/Agency: United States Senate, Committee on the Judiciary
Location: IUCat -- Y 4.J 89/2:S.HRG.104-851
Online: Internet Archive

Executive Order 9981: Establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services (Wednesday, July 28, 1948)
Author/Agency: U.S. Government Printing Office
IU Call Number: (SuDocs) Federal Register
Location: IUCat -- fiche
Online: Hein Online (Login Required)

Legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade (2008)
Author/Agency: United States. House of Representatives. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.
Location: IUCat --Y 4.J 89/1:110-63
Online: GovInfo

State and local

State and local information is just as important as federal documents. Each state and town reacts differently to federal actions and cultural changes and it is valuable to gain their perspective.

Discrimination is against the law! (2008)
Author/Agency: Bloomington Human Rights Commission.
Location: IUCat

A guide to concerns about cases of discrimination, unnecessary noise in your neighborhood, and incidents of domestic violence in Bloomington, Indiana (2008)
Author/Agency: Bloomington Community & Family Resources Dept.
Location: IUCat

Hate incidents, a threat to our civility (2000?)
Author/Agency: Bloomington Human Rights Commission
Location: IUCat

Indiana Civil Rights Commission : the first 25 years, 1961-1986 (1986)
Author/Agency: Indiana Civil Rights Commission
Location: IUCat

Race and criminal justice in Monroe County, Indiana (2003)
Author/Agency: Monroe County Racial Justice Task Force
Location: IUCat
Online: Bloomington website [archived]

Title IV : 1964 Civil Rights Act : equal educational opportunities (1982)
Author/Agency: Indiana Dept. of Public Instruction
Location: IUcat


Government Information, Maps and Microform Services focuses on government resources but holds many useful non-governmental primary sources. Many of these diverse sources can be found on microform. While an increasing number of sources can be found online some can still only be read using microfilm or microfiche, such as the Papers of the NAACP, which go all the way back to the organization's founding. Many periodicals, both local and international, can be viewed via microform.

To learn more about microforms, microform guides, using the equipment, and our holdings visit the Microforms Collections Page.

Black Newspapers Microform Guide

FBI files on Black extremist organizations [microform] (2005)
Author/Agency: LexisNexis
Location: IUCat

The increase of hate crime in Indiana [microform] (1992)
Author/Agency: United States Commission on Civil Rights. Indiana Advisory Committee.
Location: IUCat

The Negro history bulletin [microform]
Author/Agency: The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History
Location: IUCat

Papers of the NAACP [Microform] (1909-2006)
Author/Agency: NAACP, LexisNexis
Location:  IUCat
Online: LexisNexis Guides (Scroll down to "Papers of the NAACP Part 01," etc.)

The review of Black political economy [microform] (1970-2007)
Author/Agency: Black Economic Research Center
Location: IUCAT

Transcripts, depositions, consultants reports, and selected documents of the Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots [microform] (1965)
Author/Agency: California. Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots.
Location: IUCat


There is a long history of African Americans serving in the military. These are some example of documents written by the various arms of the military reviewing the service and sacrifice of black soldiers.

National Archives: Military Resources: Blacks in the Military. An online guide to resource on blacks in the military

The Air Force integrates, 1945-1964 (1978)
Author/Agency: Gropman, Alan L., Office of Air Force History
Location: Wells Library -- ALF -- D 301.2:In 8/2/1945-64
Online: GovInfo

Blacks in the Army Air Forces during World War II : the problem of race relations (1977)
Author/Agency: Osur, Alan M., Office of Air Force History
Location: Wells Library -- ET2 --D 301.2:B 56
Online: GovInfo

The employment of Negro troops (1994)
Author/Agency: Lee, Ulysses, U.S. Army: Center of Military History
Location: Wells Library -- ET2 -- D 114.7:N 31/994
Online: GovInfo

Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965 (1981)
Author/Agency: MacGregor, Morris J., U.S. Army: Center of Military History
Location: IUCat
Online: Army

The right to fight: African-American Marines in World War II (1995)
Author/Agency: Nalty, Bernard C., U.S. Marine Corps: History and Museums Division
Location: IUCat
Online: Marines

Education and Discrimination

In attempting to tackle seemingly insurmountable issues, such as racial discrimination, you can hear many voices through a variety of mediums. Here we present examples of reports and proceedings before congressional commissions and committees. Often the issue is discussed there before legislation is formulated.

Information on Committee reports can be found online at, ProQuest Congressional, and GovInfo.

Becoming less separate?: school desegregation, Justice Department enforcement, and the pursuit of unitary status (2007)
Author/Agency: United States Commission on Civil Rights
Online: GovInfo

To establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility; final report (1969)
Author/Agency: National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence
Location: IUCat

Racial isolation in the public schools; a report (1967)
Author/Agency: United States Commission on Civil Rights
Location: IUCat
Online: Hathi

Title IV and school desegregation; a study of a neglected Federal program (1973)
Author/Agency: United States Commission on Civil Rights
Online: Hathi

Twenty years after Brown: The shadows of the past (1974)
Author/Agency: United States Commission on Civil Rights
Location: IUCat

Memory and Culture

Find historic places by visiting the National Parks Service site on History and Culture.

Afro-American life, history and culture (1985)
Author/Agency: United States Information Agency. Library Programs Division.
Location: IUCat
Online: Hathi

National Museum of African American History and Culture Act (2003)
Author/Agency: U.S. Government Printing Office
Location: IUCat
Online: GovInfo

More Links

ProQuest Congressional

GovInfo: Free U.S. Government Information For All

Hein Online

CQ Almanac Online

Return to Government Information, Maps, and Microform Services.