December 11, 2017

Start the Conversation with 15 Essential African American History Books

Undated historic photo of children at a Rosenwald School. Rosenwald Schools (a National Treasure of the National Trust) are considered one of the most important initiatives to advance black education in the early 20th century.

Historic photo of a Rosenwald School.

This by-no-means-comprehensive gift guide can help your loved ones learn more about African American history and tell the full American story.

Stories of African-American Life and Achievement

The books here are widespread in subject matter: From the Great Migration to the history of American Slavery, they show how African American history is intertwined in American history in the past, present, and future.

Audio: If your giftee enjoys listening to their history through earphones, consider buying them a Slate Plus subscription so they can check out these two Slate Academy productions. Produced by Slate’s Jamelle Bouie and Rebecca Onion, these courses include podcasts, essays, and excerpts of text to help you learn about the history of American slavery and the Reconstruction period in the United States.

Stories from Our National Treasures

We at the National Trust advocate for many sites related to African American history. Here are a few titles that will help you dig deeper into the life and work of Rosenwald Schools, Madam C.J. Walker, Pauli Murray, A.G. Gaston, and the Negro Baseball League.

On Telling the Full American Story

If you’re looking for books that connect preservation work and museums with broader conversations of social justice, these selections will get the conversation started.

Did we miss your favorite book about African American history? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

By purchasing any of these products using the links on this page, you'll be supporting the National Trust. A small portion of the sales comes back to us to support our work. Check out other ways you can support preservation as you shop, travel, and play.

The 1619 Project, developed by The New York Times Magazine, is donating 50 percent of sales to the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund when you buy shirts and totes inspired by the project.

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While her day job is the associate director of content at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Priya spends other waking moments musing, writing, and learning about how the public engages and embraces history.


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Join us in protecting and restoring places where significant African American history happened.

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