This digital collection from Readex provides access to approximately 270 wide-ranging U.S. newspapers created by and featuring African Americans from the mid-1800s to the late 1990s. Based on James P. Danky's African-American Newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography, this collection, completed in 2011, is an important documentation of events, covering life in the Antebellum South and the various historical and cultural accounts that shaped the lives of Americans during this period.
See Appendex African American Newspapers Title List Sept 2012 for a source title list provided by Readex.
The breadth of content is one of the key strengths of the Readex collection. Comparing the collection with the other major online sources of black newspapers—ProQuest’s historical Black Newspapers, Accessible Archives’ African American Newspapers, and the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America—Readex appears to offer the largest spread of titles in any one product, despite some overlap with the other databases.
Readex’s African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 reportedly contains more than 31,000 issues from 275 titles, covering 39 states in total. However, some states are only nominally covered, and more than half of the named states contain fewer than 500 issues (<1% of total content). In fact, nine states and the District of Columbia make up more than 85% of the total content (in descending order by size of coverage: Kansas, Illinois, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Minnesota, Georgia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Arkansas). Kansas is the best represented state–the Kansas Historical Society was a key content source—making up nearly a third of all content.
A title/date comparison of the Readex product with other sources revealed an approximately 10% overlap of content from other electronic sources. In particular, several titles in the Readex product may also be found in the open access Chronicling America. Notable titles with overlap include The Appeal (Saint Paul, MN), Colored American (Washington, D.C.), and the Washington Bee (although in the case of this last title, Readex’s coverage of the title extends beyond that found in Chronicling America). Readex also duplicates two titles from Accessible Archives, namely Freedom's Journal (New York, NY), and Frederick Douglass' Paper (Rochester, NY).