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African Americans in Tennessee (Special Collections): Home

This guide highlights primary sources and research materials in Special Collections related to the African American experience in East Tennessee from the late 18th century to present day.

Special Collections: Getting Started

Special Collections, located on the first floor in Hodges Library, preserves and provides access to rare and unique materials that support instruction and research at the University of Tennessee. Available formats include rare books, manuscripts, letters, diaries, photographs, and digital collections. This research guide identifies special collections materials related to the African American experience in East Tennessee from the late 18th century to present day.

The guide is not a comprehensive list but, instead, an introduction to prominent topics and themes available in our collections. To find more materials on a specific topic:

General Resources

Use the following to locate general information and resources related to the African American experience in East Tennessee.

Search Terms

There are several search terms to use when looking for materials, for example: abolition, African American, Afro-American, Black, civil rights, colored, desegregation, freedmen, integration, negro, race, segregation, slave, slavery. Although some of the terminology included is outdated and no longer used in archival practice, the historic usage of specific terms can help researchers to identify contemporaneous materials. Combining some terms can help return more relevant results.

The Special Collections online finding aids are indexed using Library of Congress headings. Some relevant headings include:

African Americans -- Tennessee -- History
African Americans -- Tennessee -- Knoxville
Civil Rights -- Tennessee
Knoxville (Tenn.) -- race relations
Race relations -- Tennessee

General Information


Knoxville's African-American Community, 1860-1920. 1989 (F444.K7 J66 1989)

The History of Blacks in Knoxville, Tennessee: The First One Hundred Years, 1791-1891. 1990 (F444.K7 H58 1990)

Two Hundred Years of Black Culture in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1791 to 1991. 1993 (F444.K7 B66 1993)


The Negro in Tennessee Politics and Governmental Affairs, 1865-1965: The Hundred Years Story. 1965 (E185.93.T3 S26)

Blacks in Tennessee, 1791-1970. 1981 (E185.93.T3 L36)

Appalachians and Race: The Mountain South from Slavery to Segregation. 2001 (E185.912 .A67 2001)

Trial and Triumph: Essays in Tennessee's African American History. 2002 (F445.N4 T75 2002)

The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee: A Narrative History. 2005 (E185.93 .T3 L68 2005)

Separate Peoples, One Land: The Minds of Cherokees, Blacks, and Whites on the Tennessee Frontier. 2007 (F445 .A1 C86 2007)

Special Collections Subject Guides

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Special Collections
1015 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996
(865) 974-4480

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