How to Research the Harlem Renaissance

hrkskdA guide to online resources about the Harlem Renaissance.


What was the Harlem Renaissance?

It was a movement in which people of African descent around the world produced a lot of literature, music, and art that reflected their interest in promoting racial consciousness and pride. It roughly began the same time as the Great Migration, and was ended by the Great Depression.

Research Tips


Periodicals offer great insight into what occurred during any time period, but are particularly helpful concerning the Harlem Renaissance because some promoted the rhetoric of the movement, offering editorials, essays, plays, poetry, artwork, etc.

Newspaper Coverage Offered
Crisis, The Vols. 1-25; Vols. 25-26 (also see Google Books)
Messenger, The Vols. 1-4
Survey Graphic Vol. 6, No. 6

Use the Periodical Finder to access additional newspapers, magazines, and journals that may document the era; some can alternately be accessed here

General Resources


Drop Me Off in Harlem

Features brief biographical profiles, an interactive historical map of Harlem, and essays on themes and variations of the movement.

Harlem 1900-1940

Use the green "main menu" button in the upper right corner to access a timeline and a collection of annotated photographs (Exhibition).

Harlem History

Offers essays, oral histories, video interviews, and other archival content, organized along the themes of arts and culture, the neighborhood, and politics.

Online Encyclopedia of Significant People and Places in African American History

Search engine returning short descriptions of individuals, organizations, places and events which have contributed to the shaping of African American history.

The New Negro Renaissance

Essay that addresses a few aspects of the Harlem Renaissance, alongside an annotated image gallery of pictures and documents from the time period. Additional essays, streaming video, and maps provide context.

Van Vechten Collection

Photograph collection of celebrities, many associated with the Harlem Renaissance, taken between 1932-1964 by a famous patron.

Databases accessible to Enoch Pratt Free Library card holders:

Enoch Pratt Free Library Catalog

Database that you can search by title, subject, keyword, author, and more in order to identify most of the resources the library has to offer. Also offers professional book reviews, and the ability to keep track of items of interest.

Enoch Pratt Free Library Database Collection 

The library subscribes to many databases that primarily offer journal and reference book articles.

         To research people:  

         African American Biographical Database (1790-1950)

         Biography in Context

         Biography & Genealogy Master Index

         To research people, places, or events:

         African-American History and Culture

         History Reference Center


         Master File Premier

         Virtual Reference Library


Marina is the interlibrary loan system for Maryland Public libraries. You can request to receive items that are not in our catalog there. Worldcat is a good supplemental tool to discover what other books exist. 

Dance, Music & Theater


Internet Broadway Database

Provides records of productions from the beginnings of New York theater until today.

Performing Arts Encyclopedia

Provides descriptions. Also serves as a guide to relevant resources available through the Library of Congress.

Playbill Vault

Information about Broadway people, shows, theaters, awards, and Playbill who's who biographies.

Zora Neale Hurston Plays at the Library of Congress

This collection presents ten plays written by Hurston (1891-1960), author, anthropologist, and folklorist. 

Databases accessible to Enoch Pratt Free Library card holders:

           For scripts of plays, and descriptions of associated authors, theaters, theater companies:

           Black Drama

Visual Arts


Art of Romare Bearden   

Includes biographical information, annotated images, and descriptions of his chosen techniques and subject matter.

Artcyclopedia: Harlem Renaissance

Provides links to galleries, museums, and online archives that host artists' work, as well as general websites, articles and reference works, and book previews.

Artists of the Harlem Renaissance

Article of the Archives of American Art Blog that points to fully digitized collections. Click here for the home page of the archive's Research Collections.

Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) : The Migration of the Negro Series (1940-1941)

Features artwork that tells the story of the Great Migration, an impetus of the Harlem Renaissance. Offers biographical information that details how the artist's experience in Harlem influenced him. An alternative, child-friendly format with additional content is also available.

Rhapsodies in Black

Features essays, artwork, and biographic portraits of artists.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Search engines to find collections and biographies.



A Brief Guide to the Harlem Renaissance

Features brief biographical portraits and bibliographies of poets.

Freedom's Story: Teaching African American Literature and History 

Features relevant essays, including "The Image of Africa in the Literature of the Harlem Renaissance" and "The New Negro and the Black Image: from Booker T. Washington to Alain Locke".


Offers millions of digitized books in several formats via collaborating academic & research institutions around the world. Examples of titles offered include: The Conjure-Man Dies, Quicksand, and The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.

Internet Archive

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, and more. Examples of titles offered include: Porgy, Batouala, and Harlem Shadows: Poems.

Modern American Poetry

Offers poems, critical essays, biographical information, and photo galleries. Use the drop down box that allows one to search by Group/School, scrolling down until Harlem Renaissance appears, and then click on any poet listed beneath to browse content.

Perspectives in American Literature 

Offers an overview, chronology, brief biographical portraits and select bibliographies of writers, and a list of suggested topics to study.

Poetry Foundation 

Offers biographical portraits, critical articles, many poems and more. Note: Browsable by the period; if using this search option, click on the poet’s name to see total available content.


Features the essays of prominent intellectual leaders, ("Criteria of Negro Art" by W.E.B. Du Bois and "Art or Propoganda?" by Alain Locke), as well as feedback about the strength of each's approach.

Databases accessible to Enoch Pratt Free Library card holders:

For full-text of writings:

African American Poetry, Twentieth Century

Black Drama

Black Short Fiction

Black Thought and Culture

For biographical dictionaries, book reviews, literary criticism, etc.,:
Literary Artemis

Contact Us

This page is maintained by the African American Department. You are welcome to contact us by phone (410) 361-9287, email, or snail-mail:

African American Department
Enoch Pratt Free Library
State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201