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Oxford University Press Unveils African-American Virtual Library

Students, scholars, teachers and librarians now have instant access to more than 30 volumes of reference works on the African-American experience — all on one new online resource.

Oxford University Press unveiled this week the Oxford African American Studies Center (, a new online research guide with more than 7,000 articles, 1,000 images that enhance articles and more than 100 charts and tables on demographics, government and business.

“The Oxford African American Studies Center will provide students, scholars and researchers with online access to a landmark resource in African-American studies,” says Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., chair of the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and the project’s editor-in-chief.

The site also contains primary source documents; thematic timelines; more than 5,000 biographies; more than 3,000 subject entries on topics ranging from Aardvark to AIDS in Africa; and more than 90 country and territory maps, among other topics. Users of the site will be able to narrow their search to a specific time period and category.

The core reference books of the center include Africana, a five-volume guide on the African and African-American experience; the new Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895 and Black Women in America, Second Edition. Forthcoming to the site will be the Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present, the Encyclopedia of African American Art and Architecture and African American National Biography, which offers more than 6,000 biographies on African-American people.

“If you bought the print editions of every reference book in the Oxford African American Studies Center, it would take up three-and-a-half feet of shelf space and weight over 100 pounds,” says Casper Grathwohl, reference publisher at Oxford University Press. “This online service puts all that knowledge at people’s fingertips.”

Through its editorial advisory board and library advisory board, the site will be updated three or four times each year with new articles and reference materials and revisions to existing articles.

The center’s editorial advisory board includes: Ira Berlin, a history professor at the University of Maryland; Paul Finkelman, a law professor at the University of Tulsa; Darlene Clark Hine, an African-American Studies professor at Northwestern University; Trudier Harris, an English professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Graham Hodges, a history professor at Colgate University; Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, an American art professor at the University of Pennsylvania; and Valerie Smith, a literature professor at Princeton University.

The eight-person library advisory board is made up of librarians and technology and media consultants from universities and county library systems across America.

Individual subscriptions will start at $17.95 per month. There is special pricing available for schools, libraries and institutions, and there will be a 30-day free trial for those libraries and institutions that are considering a subscription.

For more information, visit

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