Technology Fee Funded Projects

Africana Primary Source Collections

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Project Description

The Department of Africana Studies, in collaboration with the UCF Libraries, requests $103,801 for the purchase a bundle of five Africana primary source databases. These resources will fill a crucial need for African American primary source material, especially pertaining to slavery, emancipation, and early American history. They will provide foundational support for students in the Africana Studies program as well as many other departments across campus. The selected collections are available from reputable vendors known for providing access to high quality primary sources. Here is a breakdown with discounted prices that have been provided by the three vendors:


Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive +

Sources in U.S. History Online: Slavery in America:



Black Abolitionist Papers: $ 11,133

Slavery and the Law Digital Archive: $ 11,444

Alexander Street:

Black Thought & Culture: $25,000


Total: $103,801

These prices reflect one-time purchase cost, which grants perpetual access to these collections, including any future updates and additions of new content. Each of these resources requires an annual Continuing Service Fee that is common for large digital collections of this quality. The UCF Libraries will cover these fees with their annual materials budget. Here’s an overview of the collections and how they are related:

Gale’s Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive is a powerful collection of primary sources that is broken into a four-parts:

Part I: Debates over Slavery and Abolition

Part II: Slave Trade in the Atlantic World

Part III: Institution of Slavery

Part IV: Age of Emancipation

The archive consists of 1.5 million pages of historical documents. Part I alone contains 1.5 million pages from 7,000 books and pamphlets, 80 newspapers, and a dozen manuscript collections. The scope of this collection ranges from the U.S. to Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. The database also includes the Oberlin College Anti-Slavery collection, the papers of British Abolitionist Sir Thomas Fowell-Buxton, and Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior Relating to the Suppression of the African Slave Trade and Negro Colonization. Please see this PDF for a more complete overview of all that is included in this portion of the collection.

Sources in U.S. History Online: Slavery in America is a companion to the Slavery and Anti-Slavery collection. It contains an additional 74,559 pages of documents including personal narratives, political speeches, sermons, plays, songs, poetry and fiction. The value of this collection is its emphasis on controversial topics, key cases, and significant events pertaining to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, the Fifteenth Amendment, and the New York African Free School and more. Learn more about Slavery in America.

ProQuest’s Black Abolitionist Papers brings together a disparate collection of primary sources that tell the story of the abolitionist movement in the voices of the activists themselves. The collection ranges from 1830-1865 and contains more than 15,000 abolitionist documents from the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Germany. Included are reform newspaper articles, essays, editorials, speeches, sermons, lectures and more. Please see the Abolitionist Papers website for more information.

Slavery and the Law Digital Archive is the single most comprehensive collection of legal documents pertaining to slavery and emancipation. Highlights of this unparalleled collection include Petitions to State Legislatures, Petitions to Southern County Courts, State Slavery Statutes, a master record of the laws governing American slavery from 1789–1865. This unique collection will be invaluable to anyone studying the political, economic, legal, and social conditions of slavery, emancipation, and early American history. See the ProQuest flyer for a more comprehensive overview.

Black Thought & Culture (Alexander Street) is a foundational collection that consists of 100,000 of documents spanning 250 years of African American history. Included are letters, speeches, essays, pamphlets, interviews, and periodicals from prominent leaders such as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and others. Highlights include the transcript of the Muhammad Ali trial, a full run of The Black Panther newspaper, and 2,500 pages of exclusive Black Panther oral histories. A more comprehensive overview can be found here.

Taken together, these collections are a treasure trove of primary source material on par with what is available at some of the most prestigious libraries in the country. Gale, ProQuest, and Alexander Street are industry leaders in providing online access to high-quality academic content. Their digitization standards are truly outstanding. The collections are 100% full text with High-resolution scans can be read online or downloaded as PDFs. In most cases, content is keyword searchable so students can conduct in-depth research in collections that, in years past, would only have been available in remote libraries and archives. These resources will greatly enhance the stature of UCF’s Africana Studies program and will help UCF meet one of the main challenges of the twenty-first-century university by providing cutting-edge, accessible resources to all of its students.

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Student Access to Project Resources

These collections will be of great benefit to students and faculty in disciplines such as Africana Studies, History, English, Education, Anthropology, Political Science, Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies, Music and others. The databases will be available to an unlimited number of users, making the content easily accessible throughout the UCF community. We will integrate these resources into the Africana Studies Program and make them available on the Libraries’ main database page as well as relevant research guides. We will also link to them on the Resources section of the Africana Studies website and will encourage other departments to do the same. To further help students get the most out of these resources, John Venecek, the Libraries’ liaison to Africana Studies, will create a research guide and will provide training on these databases during relevant bibliographic instruction sessions. We will also present these collections at departmental meetings and provide workshops for students.

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Benefit to Student Learning

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of these resources to the students of the University as a whole and especially to the students and faculty of Africana Studies, History, English, Education, Anthropology, Political Science, Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies, Music, etc. as it is no exaggeration to say that the ability to process vast quantities of information is one of the foremost challenges of an informed citizenry in the digital age.  As such, these collections will enable faculty in different disciplines to compile meaningful, engaging course readings and to construct impactful research assignments. Because these resources are online, they can easily be incorporated into face-to-face, mixed-mode, and online courses. Reading and research assignments could be scaled up or down to suit lower or upper-division undergraduate courses as well as graduate seminars. Faculty in different disciplines might draw on different content, but research-focused assignments utilizing the resources would lead to similar student learning outcomes in terms of the kinds of skills that they promote: research, organization, planning, analysis, communication, computer literacy, and problem-solving. Faculty can easily design assignments that would allow students to gain important knowledge while also honing these hard and soft skills, which are not only valuable to employers but necessary to the most significant and most trivial of everyday tasks alike.

A simple keyword search within Gale’s Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive, Sources in U.S. History Online: Slavery in America, ProQuest’s Black Abolitionist Papers, Slavery and the Law Digital Archives, or Black Thought & Culture and their related digital collections can reveal the sheer volume of content—and the multiple disciplinary interests that converge on a single topic. It would also suggest just how many possibilities are available to faculty building course syllabi and to undergraduate, graduate, and faculty pursuing independent research. Such rich depth and breadth of content, however, also demand that students hone their analytical, organizational, and problem-solving skills as they learn to employ search limiters and utilize critical thinking while testing different strategies to narrow topics and formulate hypotheses. As students sift through content, they will learn to detect an author’s biases, to glean information about audience from textual and contextual clues, and to compare divergent accounts of the same events from different sources and over time. By using these resources strategically faculty can employ a two-pronged approach in a wide range of courses and students can gain knowledge through guided access of specific historical, cultural, and literary content in these extraordinarily comprehensive databases. By so doing, our students, through independent research, can gain important marketable skills that will serve them well beyond the university.

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Project Success Metrics and Assessment Plan

The Libraries will measure the impact of these databases through usage reports that track the number of individual hits and downloads. The Libraries will measure the success of these collections through COUNTER usage data provided by the vendors. These usage reports will be included in the Libraries’ Annual Report and will serve an important benchmark. In order for achieve meaningful quantitative assessment, a 3-year time series comparison will be conducted three years after the full implementation of these resources. Once these collections have been integrated into classes and promoted through a variety of outreach efforts, we would expect usage to increase an average of 10% per year for the first three years.

In addition to the afore-mentioned metrics, we will also assess this project by consulting with selected faculty to review the collections and provide feedback on how they are being used in classes as well as the impact on student learning. We will work with teaching faculty and subject librarians to identify coursers and programs that may benefit from these resources. This will be done, in part, though various outreach efforts including bibliographic instruction sessions, research consultations, the creation of a research guide, and articles in faculty newsletters designed to promote awareness and encourage use of these resources.

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Project Sustainability

The requested funds will cover the one-time purchase of the entire collection, which will provide perpetual access to the databases included in this package. The Libraries will catalog the content and support access. Each database has a small annual maintenance fee that will be paid for out of the Libraries’ materials budget.

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Technology Fee Proposal Budget Narrative

The requested $103,801 will cover the purchase of five primary source collections from Gale, ProQuest, and Alexander Street. The price breakdown described above reflects a one-time purchase for perpetual access to all the collections with no immediate additional costs. Annual access fees will be negotiated by the Libraries and will be paid for out of their annual materials budget. All content and functionality associated will be hosted by the vendors, so there will be no new demands on UCF staff or infrastructure.

Based on the most recent statistics of 62,526 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled as of the fall 2015 semester, the cost of these collections averages out to a mere $1.66 per-student. However, with unlimited access and perpetual rights, this number will be even lower as usage increases.

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Space Administration

No space is needed for the project.

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