Black History Month

Written by Diana Keith, Government Documents Librarian

Ron Wirtz, Coordinator of Library Services

and Jennifer Harvey, Curriculum Librarian

Black History Week was established by historian Carter G. Woodson and first celebrated in 1926. As part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month in 1976. On February 1, 2010, President Obama declared the month of February 2010, National African American History Month. In his proclamation, he acknowledges the sad history of slavery in the nation and the looks to the future hope continually offered through the American Dream. In addition, the president calls on librarians and educators, among others, “to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.”

In that spirit, please visit the library (virtually or in person) to check out some of our resources related to African American history.

In the government documents online information resources, you will find highlights from U. S. Bureau of the Census data:

  • 13.5% of the total U. S. population consists of black residents, including those of more than one race, as estimated in 2008.
  • 18 states have an estimated black population of at least 1 million. New York has the highest population with 3.5 million.
  • 30% of the black population is younger than 18 as of July 1, 2008. Eight percent of the black population was 65 years and older.
  • 83% of the black population 25 years and older had at least a high school diploma in 2008.

Additional statistics about voting, income and poverty, home ownership, jobs, and businesses are located at:

On the lower level of the library, you will find a display of books from the juvenile literature and curriculum collections, as well as videos, tapes, and compact disks, which document and explore the achievements of people of African heritage.

Also visit the display case on the main floor of the library to see a selection of books related to Haiti, the first Black republic in the Western Hemisphere (1804) and the first independent nation in Latin America.

Finally, visit our catalog and do a keyword search on African Americans to find the thousands of items in the catalog related to those terms. Please note that over 65 of the items found are ebooks available anywhere in the world to UNK students, faculty and staff. The photographs in African Americans on the Western Frontier are fascinating (the photograph below is from the Nebraska State Historical Society–compare it with the photograph on page 129 of the online text).

Shores family, near Westerville, Custer County, 1887. Available through the Nebraska State Historical Society Web site (