A Bibliography on Interpreting African American History and Culture

As many of you know, I’m assembling an anthology on the interpretation of African American history and culture at historic sites and in history museums, expected to be published by Rowman and Littlefield later this year as part of the AASLH book series.  To provide an overview of the field during the past twenty years, I’ve developed an eleven-page bibliography of published articles and books.  Although not comprehensive nor definitive, it provides a gateway to the breadth and width of the work underway in the United States for inspiration and best practices, and suggests needs and opportunities in the field.  Due to limited space, this bibliography will be reduced in the book so I wanted to provide it here for those who are interested in the expanded version.

This bibliography primarily focuses on theories and methods (the “how”) of interpreting African American history and culture at museums and historic sites, such as tours, exhibits, events, programs, videos, and websites.  Related, but not part of this bibliography, are guidebooks to museums and sites such as African American Historic Places (Wiley, 1994) and studies on the teaching and interpretation of African American history in the classroom and in textbooks.  The history and historiography of the African American experience (the “what”) are collected in such works as The Harvard Guide to African-American History (Harvard University Press, 2001) and The Columbia Guide to African American History Since 1939 (Columbia University Press, 2006), although they typically exclude unpublished studies such as archaeological excavations, architectural surveys, and historic structures reports.   Resources on the historical research and interpretation in general are available from such organizations as the American Historical Association, American Association for State and Local History, the National Association for Interpretation, National Council on Public History, and the National Park Service.

If I missed something significant or that contributes to the interpretation of African American history and culture at history museums and historic sites, please share the citation in the comments so everyone learns about it.  Because my work is taking me into other directions, I won’t be maintaining this bibliography on a regular basis but you are welcome to share and use it for educational and scholarly purposes.  Thanks!

5 thoughts on “A Bibliography on Interpreting African American History and Culture

  1. mreeves

    Great list Max–here is an article that I wrote several years ago on working with descendants and interpreting African American sites. Am attaching the article.



  2. Michael A. Lord

    Very helpful, Max–thank you. At Historic Hudson Valley, we’ve been interpreting the role of northern enslavement and its effects on the commercial and cultural development of NY since 2002. We’re now expanding that story into various forms of digital media and this bib is timely indeed. Attached is a link to a couple of short articles on how and why we focus on enslavement in the colonial north at Philipsburg Manor. http://omalord.blogspot.com/


    1. Max van Balgooy Post author

      Thanks, Michael! I know that Historic Hudson Valley has been doing some pathbreaking work on interpreting slavery in the North, but I didn’t realize there were articles available.


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