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African and African American Studies (AAAS)

Resources for researching African and African American culture and history at the University of Memphis Libraries.

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Sojourner Truth (1797 - 1883)                       

If women want rights more than they got, why don't they just take them, and not be talking about it.”― Sojourner Truth 

Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Bomfree, a Dutch-speaking slave in Ulster County, New York. She became an abolitionist and women's rights activist. In 1826, Truth absconded to freedom with her infant daughter while in Swartekill, New York. Two years later, Truth went to court to fight for her son's freedom. She won! She was the first black female to win a case against a white man. 

She was a great orator; she became known for powerful speeches such as "Ain't I a Woman? During the Civil War, the "Ain't I a Woman" speech became popular among the women at the Ohio Women Rights Convention. 



AAAS Newspapers

African American Newspapers, Series 1 and 2, 1827-1998, provide online access to more than 350 U.S. newspapers chronicling a century and a half of the African American experience. This unique collection, which includes historically significant papers from more than 35 states, features many rare 19th-century titles. These papers cover life in the Antebellum South, the growth of the Black church, the Jim Crow Era, the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights movement, political and economic empowerment.

The Chicago Defender is a Chicago-based African-American newspaper.  It was founded in 1905 by Robert S. Abbott and was once considered the "most important" newspaper of its kind.   Abbott's newspaper reported and campaigned against Jim Crow era violence and urged black people in the American South to come north in what became the Great Migration.

  • Early American Newspaper Indices - includes National African American Photographic Archive, Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike, 1968, photographs, Benjamin Lawson Hooks papers, Memphis History, Earnestine Jenkins Collection of Historical African American-African Diaspora Photographs, etc. 
  • Newsbank

Provides full-text access to hundreds of newspapers, including three major metropolitan Tennessee newspapers: the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, and the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Also includes popular news magazines, detailed special reports on current events, and hot topics. Coverage: varies by paper.

Nexis Uni features more than 15,000 news, business, and legal sources from LexisNexis®—including U.S. Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1790—with an intuitive interface that offers quick discovery across all content types, personalization features such as Alerts and saved searches and a collaborative workspace with shared folders and annotated documents. Nexis Uni has replaced LexisNexis Academic. LexisNexis Academic is no longer available.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chicago Defender provides genealogists, researchers, and scholars with online, easily-searchable first-hand accounts and unparalleled coverage of the politics, society, and events of the time.

             The Tri-State Defender is an African-American newspaper that serves Memphis, Tennessee, and nearby areas such as Arkansas,                                                 Mississippi, and Tennessee.  

 Can't find the newspaper you're looking for please search our catalog: Classic Catalog