ProQuest History Vault

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ProQuest History Vault provides access to primary source, cross-searchable, full-text/full-image documents on some of the most widely studied topics in 18th – 20th century American history. Most of the content in History Vault is not available elsewhere. Researchers will find digitized archival materials such as letters, papers, photographs, scrapbooks, financial records and diaries.

History Vault is comprised of many American history primary source collections.
The University of Delaware Library focuses on providing access to those modules related to African American history.

Coverage: 18th-20th centuries


Modules included:

The Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Organizational Records and Personal Papers
The first module consists of personal papers of African Americans and records of civil rights organizations. Among the 36 collections in the first module are:

  • Papers of the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) explaining the organization’s philosophy of revolutionary black nationalism
  • Mary McLeod Bethune Papers
  • Records of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC), the oldest African American women’s organization in the U.S.
  • Records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization led by Martin Luther King, Jr., during the high point of the civil rights struggle.
  • Bayard Rustin Papers
  • Claude A. Barnett Papers

The Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Federal Government Records
The second module consists of 37 collections from the records of federal government agencies. These include:

  • Peonage Files of the U.S. Department of Justice, 1901-1945
  • Department of Justice Classified Subject Files on Civil Rights, 1914-1949
  • New Deal Agencies and Black America
  • Records of the Tuskegee Airmen
  • President Truman’s Committee on Civil Rights
  • Records on civil rights from the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter and Bush administrations
  • FBI Files on Martin Luther King, Jr., major civil rights campaigns, the Black Panther Party, and other civil rights organizations
  • Records of the Interstate Commerce Commission and U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

NAACP Papers
(Purchase of the NAACP papers was made possible through a grant from the Unidel Foundation.)

Internal memos, legal briefings and direct action summaries from national, legal and branch offices throughout the country. Charts the NAACP’s work and delivers a first-hand view into crucial issues: lynching, school desegregation, discrimination in the military, the criminal justice system, employment, housing and more.

  • NAACP Papers: Board of Directors, Annual Conferences, Major Speeches, and National Staff Files
  • NAACP Papers: Branch Department, Branch Files, and Youth Department Files
  • NAACP Papers: Special Subjects
  • NAACP Papers: The NAACP’s Major Campaigns—Education, Voting, Housing, Employment, Armed Forces
  • NAACP Papers: The NAACP’s Major Campaigns—Scottsboro, Anti-Lynching, Criminal Justice, Peonage, Labor, Segregation and Discrimination Complaints and Responses
  • NAACP Papers: The NAACP’s Major Campaigns—Legal Department Files

Southern Life and African American History, 1775-1915, Plantation Records, Parts 1-2
(Purchase of Plantation Records was made possible through a grant from the Unidel Foundation.)

  • Part 1 documents the impact of plantations on both the American South and the nation. The commodities produced by plantation owners—rice, cotton, sugar, tobacco, hemp and others— accounted for more than half of the nation’s exports. The plantation, therefore, played a key role in the development of a nationwide market economy. Plantation records also document the personal lives of plantation owners and their families.
  • Part 2 presents records from the University of Virginia and Duke University. Major collections from the holdings of the University of Virginia include the Tayloe Family Papers, Ambler Family Papers, Cocke Family Papers, Gilliam Family Papers, Barbour Family Papers and Randolph Family Papers. Major collections from the Duke University holdings document plantation life in Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.

Slavery and the Law
(Purchase of Slavery and the Law was made possible through a grant from the Unidel Foundation.)

  • Features petitions on race, slavery and free blacks that were submitted to state legislatures and county courthouses between 1775 and 1867. These petitions were collected by Loren Schweninger over a four year period from hundreds of courthouses and historical societies in 10 states and the District of Columbia. The petitions document the realities of slavery at the most immediate local level and with amazing candor. Slavery and the Law also includes the State Slavery Statutes collection, a comprehensive record of the laws governing American slavery from 1789-1865.