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Jul 7, 2006 1:12 pm

Documenting the American South

Documenting the American South is an exceptional archive with 1,400 primary sources on Southern history, literature, and culture from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. The archive is divided into seven thematic collections.

“First-Person Narratives of the American South, 1860-1920” offers perspectives on lives of ordinary people, such as women, workers, African Americans, and Native Americans, through diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, travel accounts, and ex-slave narratives."Library of Southern Literature" focuses on writings from the colonial era to the beginning of the 20th century."North American Slave Narratives" offers 250 images and texts that document the story of African Americans' struggle for freedom and human rights. Using more than 400 Civil War era maps, broadsides, photographs, printed works, Confederate currency, and manuscript letters and diaries,"The Southern Homefront, 1861-1865" documents Southern life during the Civil War."The Church in the Southern Black Community, Beginnings to 1920," uses autobiographies, biographies, church documents, sermons, histories, and encyclopedias to explore Protestant Christianity as the central institution of community life among Southern African Americans. “The North Carolina Experience, Beginnings to 1940” offers 500 representative histories, descriptive accounts, institutional reports, works of fiction, images, oral histories, and songs. Finally, “North Carolinians and the Great War” examines experiences at home and on the battlefield.

Each collection is accompanied by an introductory essay and can be browsed by topic, subject, or alphabetically. Author, title, subject, and geographic indexes for the entire archive are also available. Classroom resources include more than 30 lesson plans on U.S., North Carolina, and African American history and a teacher’s tool kit.

A more extensive review of this website by Crandell Shifflett, professor of history at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, published in the Journal of American History, can be found at

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