From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is a web-based reference center that is dedicated primarily to the understanding of African-American history and Afro-Caribbean history and the history of people of Sub-Saharan African ancestry. In 2011 the American Library Association's Reference and User Services Association included it in its list of the 25 Best Free Reference Websites of the Year.[1] According to, the website has a global audience of about two million visitors per year from over 100 nations. In 2009, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil, and Germany ranked as the top five countries in visitors to the site after the United States.[2] A 2008 website review described it as easily navigable and well organized but also as containing omissions among some features and as a work in progress.[3] By 2009, the organization was selected by New York Public Library reference librarians as one of the top 25 hybrid print and electronic resources for the year.[4]

History[edit] was founded in January 2004 by Quintard Taylor, the Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History at the University of Washington.[5] The initial website, designed by his teaching assistant George Tamblyn, was intended primarily as a research aid for those students and mainly featured short vignettes of significant people, places and events in African-American history. Under the direction of Taylor's daughter Jamila, the website was redesigned the following year to incorporate a new architecture and improved navigation features using Dreamweaver, creating the basis for a resource that would serve a larger research audience. In Spring 2005, Taylor received an email from a New Zealand researcher who had accessed the site. This was followed by correspondence from Russian students who had viewed the site. This led to a U.S. State Department-sponsored tour of Russian universities by Taylor.

When it became evident that the site was being used outside of the campus community, additional features were added including a bibliography, timeline, links to related websites, major speeches, digital archives and genealogy sections. With the addition of a Bullitt research assistant and a high school intern, the website staff had grown to five by the end of its second year. In 2006, the website received its first funding when University of Washington History Department Chair John Findlay and the school's Office of Minority Affairs Director Nancy "Rusty" Barceló each agreed to provide $10,000 for website expansion. The seed money was used to hire Grip Media of Portland, Oregon, to design a professional web presence for That year, the number of visits received by the site exceeded 150,000, and it recorded 4.4 million hits.[2]

On February 1, 2007, the new Drupal-based website was launched with a small ceremony in the University of Washington History Department. The site opened with approximately 600 entries, 100 speeches, 80 full text primary documents and seven major timelines. New sections that were added included New Perspectives, which featured accounts and descriptions of important but little-known events in African-American history. In 2007, the site surpassed the 455,000 mark in annual visits with over 12.7 million hits.[2]

More than 600 volunteer historians, scholars and university students have contributed historical entries since the site's inception. In November 2007, was formed as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of Washington. Board members at time of formation were George Tamblyn, Jamila Taylor and Quintard Taylor. On March 28, 2008, with a staff of 10, was officially recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.[6] Also that year, the organization received a $10,000 grant from Humanities Washington for project work including photo copyright acquisition.[7]

In 2009, the organization was selected by New York Public Library reference librarians as one of the top 25 hybrid print and electronic resources for the library's Best of Reference list, "an annual list of books, websites, and electronic resources selected by a committee of librarians for their usefulness in branch reference collections."[4] The following year, was selected by the Library of Congress (LOC) to become part of the LOC's web archiving project,[8][9] a commitment with the International Internet Preservation Consortium to record a "rich body of Internet content from around the world."[10] (See also National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.) That project is currently in the cataloging phase, and the content will be available sometime in 2011.[11]

Since its inception, all content has been reviewed for accuracy and relevance by Taylor and a team of copyeditors prior to publication.[12] Taylor said in a 2008 interview, "The site is the biggest thing I've ever done as far as its reach and impact," adding: "I've received e-mails from China, Nigeria, South Africa and from the Netherlands. Where we think we have a self-interest in African American history, it's pleasing to me that folks in Russia and Mexico want to know the story. That is what drives me to continue on with this important work of unraveling the history of the African American people."[13]


  • Transcripts of nearly 200 speeches and over 100 primary documents including court decisions, laws, organizational statements, government reports, and executive orders impacting people of African ancestry around the world.[14]
  • Nine major timelines forming a chronology of events from 5,000 BCE to the present while five major bibliographies list nearly 4,000 books categorized by author, title, subject, and date of publication.[15]
  • Six "gateway" pages with links to digital archive collections, museums, and research centers, genealogical research websites, and more than 500 other website resources on African-American and global African history. Those links include all of the major black newspapers in the United States as well as the most significant newspapers and magazines in Africa and leading periodicals devoted to people of African ancestry in the Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America.[16]
  • A section called Perspectives Magazine presents commentary on important but little-known events in black history often written by individuals who participated in or witnessed them.[17]
  • Black History Month provides information on the annual celebration of African-American history and culture.[18]
  • The Barack Obama Page, which is a reference center for information related to the 44th President of the United States.[19]
  • Major Black Officeholders since 1641, which lists hundreds of black officeholders since the American colonial era. This list includes all past and current African-American members of the U.S. Congress as well as other officeholders and political appointees.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "25 Best Free Reference Websites of 2011", American Library Association Reference and User Services Association.
  2. ^ a b c "History of (2004– )",
  3. ^ Barclay Key, "Website Review: Remembered and Reclaimed Archived August 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine," The Journal of American History 96:3 (2009), pp. 950–951.
  4. ^ a b "Hybrid Print and Electronic Resources for 2009," Best of Reference, New York Library Association Reference & Adult Services Section.
  5. ^ "Pursuing the Past in the Twenty-first Century – Dr. Quintard Taylor, Jr".
  6. ^ "BlackPast: A Growing Resource on Black History", Multicultural Notes, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 2010.
  7. ^ "Project Grant Awarded Before 2009", Humanities Washington, file:///Users/carla/Documents/blackpast/Humanities%20Washington%20-%20Previous%20Project%20Grants.webarchive
  8. ^ "Search results from Archived Web Site".
  9. ^ "Ethnic and Multicultural History", Library of Congress Internet Resources.
  10. ^ "International Internet Preservation Consortium" Archived June 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine,
  11. ^ Email from Library of Congress Web Archiving staff to author, August 24, 2010.
  12. ^ "Web site based at the University of Washington is best resource on the Web for African American history" Archived December 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, University of Washington, August 27, 2007.
  13. ^ Lindsay Larin, "A Black and White Connection through Common Ancestry", Bellevue Reporter, November 14, 2008.
  14. ^ Carmelita N. Pickett, " An Online guide to African American History." Reference Reviews 21:8 (2007), pp. 48–47.
  15. ^ "Timeline Home Page",
  16. ^ Eric Scigliano, "Back to the BlackPast," Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, August 2007, p. 38.
  17. ^ "Perspectives on African American History",
  18. ^ "Black History Month on",
  19. ^ "The Barack Obama Page",
  20. ^ "BlackPast: A Growing Resource on Black History" Archived July 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Multicultural Notes, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 2010.


External links[edit]