Image of books by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

Reading list: In reflection of Black History Month

In reflection of US Black History Month, the cohort of interns here at the National Library of Scotland have curated a reading list of titles from the Library’s ever-expanding print and digital collections relating to Black history.  

Our internships are as follows: 

  • Access and Outreach 
  • Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion 
  • Climate Crisis 
  • Gaelic Translation 
  • Rights and Personalisation 
  • Creating Media Content 

This small selection of material comes from a larger pool of resources, and includes autobiographies, Black British and American newspapers, novels, anti-racist guides, children’s books, environmental justice publications, photography books and science fiction novels.   

Please note that to access e-books and e-journals you’ll need to register as a reader. For information on how to register see our website here:  

List of online resources available to Library readers off-site: 

  • African American Newspapers Series 1 and 2E-resource. This online database provides access to over 280 African American newspapers published in the 19th and 20th centuries, chronicling over a century and a half of African American experiences.   
  • The Voice. VeeTeeAy Media Resources Co., London, 1982-. Print / E-journal  The Voice is an award-winning publication and the only British national Black weekly newspaper. Special features include an African and Caribbean food guide, a Black Business guide and a Carnival supplement to coincide with the Notting Hill Carnival:  

The Voice is available within the e-resource Ethnic NewsWatch:  Ethnic NewsWatch – eResources – National Library of Scotland ( 

E-Journal:  The Voice; London – ProQuest 

The Voice is also available in print.

  • Michelle Alexander. The new Jim Crow: mass incarceration in the age of colour-blindness. New Press: New York, 2010. E-book. New Jim Crow: mass incarceration in the age of colour-blindness by Michelle Alexander, was described by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as ‘brave and bold’. The book argues that racial discrimination persists through law-making, policing and the mass incarceration of young Black men in the USA:   

List of resources which are available in-person in the Library reading rooms: 

  • Mary SeacoleThe wonderful adventures of Mrs Seacole in many lands. Penguin: London, 2005. Book. The wonderful adventures of Mrs Seacole in many lands is the autobiography of Mary Seacole, a Jamaican-born woman of mixed Jamaican and Scottish heritage. Written in 1857, it tells the story of the nurse’s travels between the Caribbean, Britain, Central America and the front line of the Crimean war, where she set up a ‘British Hotel’ for injured soldiers:   
  • Mary Prince. The history of Mary PrinceA West Indian slave. Penguin Books: London and New York, 2000. Book. The history of Mary Prince is an abolitionist propaganda text edited by Roxburghshire-born abolitionist Thomas Pringle. Written in 1831, it was the first published narrative by a woman on the horrors of enslavement:     
  • Kevin P. Murphy and Jennifer M. Spear, editors. Historicising gender and sexuality. Wiley-Blackwell: Malden, MA, 2011. Book.  Historicising Gender and Sexuality is an edited collection which includes a chapter by Maria Fuentes on ‘Rachael Pringle Polgreen’s Troubled Archive’. Born into slavery in Barbados, Rachael was sexually abused in her childhood by her Scottish father and slave-owner William Lauder. As a freed woman, Rachael earned a small fortune running a brothel that was popular with British officers and sailors:     
William Craft. Running a thousand miles for freedom; or, The escape of William and Ellen Craft from slavery. London, 1860.
William Craft. Running a thousand miles for freedom; or, The escape of William and Ellen Craft from slavery. London, 1860.
  • William Craft. Running a thousand miles for freedom; or, The escape of William and Ellen Craft from slavery. London, 1860. Book. The 1860 edition (front cover pictured above) of Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom by Ellen and William Craft tells the story of a couple who escaped their enslavement in Macon, Georgia by dressing in disguise. In 1850, Ellen and William Craft gave speeches at anti-slavery meetings hosted by the Edinburgh Ladies’ Emancipation Society: 
  • Frederick Douglass. My bondage and my freedom. Miller, Orton & Mulligan: New York, 1885. Book. In his 1855 autobiography My bondage and my freedom, African American abolitionist, human rights activist, author and orator Frederick Douglass describes his perception of Edinburgh as a racially equal society: ‘Everything is so different here from what I have been accustomed to in the United States. No insults to encounter – no prejudice to encounter, but all is smooth. I am treated as a man an equal brother’: 
  • Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Crusade for justice: the autobiography of Ida B. Wells. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1970. Book. Crusade for Justice is the autobiography of Mississippi-born African American Journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett, which tells the story of the anti-lynching campaigner’s private life and public social justice campaigns. In 1893, Wells-Barnett embarked on an anti-lynching tour in Scotland:     
  • The library has several children’s books about Harriet Tubman, which outline the life of this American icon. In the mid-1800s, Harriet Tubman carried out 13 expeditions across the ‘Underground Railroad’, rescuing around 70 enslaved African American people. Below is a selection: 

Maria Isabel Sánchez VegaraHarriet Tubman. Illustrated by Pili Aguado. Lincoln Children’s Books, 2018. Book. 

Barbara Kramer. Harriet TubmanNational Geographic Kids: Washington D.C, 2020. E-book (available on-site only). 

Sandra A. Agard. Harriet Tubman. Stripes: London, 2019. Book.   

  • Duncan Tonatiuh. Separate is never equal: Sylvia Mendez & her family’s fight for desegregation. Abrams Books for Young Readers: New York, 2014. Book. Award winning author Duncan Tonatiuh wrote Separate is never equal: Sylvia Mendez & her family’s fight for desegregation, which details a family’s fight to end segregation in California schools:
  • Grace Lee Boggs and Scott Kurashige. The next American revolution: sustainable activism for the twenty-first century. University of California Press: Berkeley, 2012. Book. The next American revolution: sustainable activism for the twenty-first century was written by Grace Lee Boggs and Scott Kurashige. Boggs, drawing from her seven decades of experience as an activist, argues that the world needs to engineer new ways of creating social change in order to confront its current climate, political, and economic issues:   
  • Isabel Wilkerson. The warmth of other suns: the epic story of America’s great migration. Random House: London, 2010. Book and e-book (available on site only). Published in 2010, this book has been named one of Time’s ten best nonfiction books of the decade. Isabel Wilkerson is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and chronicles one of the most untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of Black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life:   
  • Ijeoma Oluo. So you want to talk about raceBerkeley, 2018. E-book (available on-site only) Ijeoma Oluo’s book is a New York Times Bestseller. The book guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to ‘model minorities’ in an attempt to make possible honest conversations about race and racism in many aspects of American life: 
  • Brittney Cooper. Eloquent rage: a Black feminist discovers her superpowerNew York, 2018. Book. Pushing against the stereotypes of Black women’s anger, Brittney Cooper explains that: ‘Eloquent rage keeps us all honest and accountable. It reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less’:   
  • Maud Sulter. Zabat. Hebden Bridge, 1989. Portfolio available to consult in the National Library Special Collections Reading Room. Zabat (an ancient Egyptian word meaning ‘Black woman’s rite of passage’) is by Scottish-Ghanian author Maud Sulter. The Library owns one of the first 500 printed copies of the book, which shows a number of large-scale colour portraits depicting contemporary Black women as the ancient muses:   
  • Luke Cole and Sheila Foster. From the ground up: environmental racism and the rise of the environmental justice movement. New York, 2001. Book. Traces the history of the Environmental Justice Movement, describing the relationship between corporate pollution, environmental destruction and racism:     
  • Michael Mascarenhas. Lessons in environmental justice: from civil rights to Black Lives Matter and Idle No MoreLos Angeles, 2020. E-book (available on-site only). Michael Mascarenhas critically examines the environmental justice movement. The book brings together the works of individuals in the new wave of intersectional environmental justice scholarship:  

Thanks for reading this list. You can join the Library, view our digitised items and search our collections via our website. Featured image by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash.