AFRO 102: Government Information about African Americans




These are some of the U.S. federal agencies that work on issues that affect African Americans:

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
This agency investigates issues related to civil rights for all racial groups.  Its current reports are highlighted on the agency's home page; go to  the catalog accessible from the Publications page for an (almost) complete listing of CCR reports.  Older reports are also available from the University of Maryland Law Library's Historical Publications of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights project.
Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
This division of the Justice Department enforces civil rights violations on behalf of the U.S. government.  Information on African Americans is scattered throughout its offices, because they are organized by type of discrimination (educational discrimination, for example) rather than by group discriminated against.
National Criminal Justice Reference Service (U.S. Department of Justice)
This agency researches law enforcement issues, including racially charged issues like capital punishment and hate crimes.
Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education)
This office helps educational institutions and organizations to comply with civil rights laws, and enforces violations.


African American History

Electronic Reading Room (FBI)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has posted some of its frequently requested investigative files on its web site.  Many of these are important to researchers interested in African American history; for example, the Black Panther Party investigation and portions of Martin Luther King's files.
African American Research (NARA)
This site from the National Archives, as well as the FBI site listed above, contain examples of the kinds of information you can find in government archives.  More and more of these records are being digitized, but often researchers need to travel to wherever the documents are located.
African American History (Library of Congress)
This page is an index to the collections about African American History which are available online from the Library of Congress's American Memory project.  Click on the title of a collection to browse or search it, or search multiple collections from this page.
African American History and Culture (Library of Congress)
This site is an example of one of the collections in the American Memory project.  Twelve items from the Library of Congress's extensive collection of manuscripts related to African American history are linked from this page, including the copy of Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech that was submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office.
African American History (National Park Service)
This site talks mostly about places associated with African American history, including the school that was the focus of the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.


Most federal agencies collect statistics about their activities, and many of them track these statistics by race. 

Facts on the Black or African American Population (Census Bureau)
This page compiles information about African Americans that is collected by the Census Bureau for all of its surveys.
American Factfinder (Census Bureau)
This is the main access point for data from the 2000 and 2010 censuses of population, as well as for the recent American Community Surveys and Economic Censuses.
Hate Crime Statistics (FBI)
This is an example of an agency publication that is not specifically about African Americans, but which reports information by race.


Finding Aids

UIUC Online Catalog

To find government information about African Americans at the UIUC Library, go to the Advanced Search tab, use the More Limits button to restrict your search to the Government Documents Library, and enter "African American" as a phrase in Subject Words.  You will get a lot of results, mostly dated after 1980, but you can click on specific subject headings you are interested in or limit your search with additional criteria.


This catalog indexes government information distributed to depository libraries all over the country since 1976.  For documents released during the last couple of weeks, the free version of the Monthly Catalog is usually more frequently updated.

Proquest Statistical Insight UIUC SUBSCRIPTION

This database will help you find statistics about African Americans on a wide variety of subjects.  Choose the subjects you are interested in from the subject list, then narrow your search by race and ethnic group.  Another source for statistics is Fedstats.

ProQuest Congressional UIUC SUBSCRIPTION

A good source for finding information on policy issues that affect African Americans.  The Political News/Hot Topics link on the left side of the screen is a good starting point. 

Contact Us

Government Information Services, Access and Collections
450-F Main Library
1408 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, Illinois 61801
Phone: (217) 244-4621

E-mail GovInfo


Mary Mallory , Coordinator, Government Information Services, Access and Collections

Heather Brown , Graduate Assistant