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Identifying Unheard Voices: Race, Culture & Ethnic Voices

The following guide provides an overview for identifying underrepresented voices and communities within research.

Resources Available at the Gordon Library

Research Resources Related Race & Ethnicity

Voices at Risk of Racial Bias 

The voices of marginalized racial communities are underrepresented in academia, government, healthcare, and other industries. History has shown, that even when racially marginalized communities have advocated for themselves, many times the works were not recorded or saved. By intentionally seeking out and citing work created by and for individuals from marginalized communities, we help to advocate for the creators, their communities, and the perspectives they present.  At the same time, we broaden our own understanding of the topic. 

For books, first identify the subject heading used for that class of person or ethnic group, then add subject subdivision terms to narrow your search.

For autobiographies and memoirs, use the subject subdivision term Biography (LCSH)

For primary sources try these subject subdivision terms to find first hand accounts by marginalized voices:

  • Sources (LCSH) (combine with historical topics e.g. Civil rights Sources)

  • Personal narratives (LCSH) (combine with events and wars, e.g. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) Personal narratives)

  • Correspondence (LCSH) (combine with names of individuals, classes of people, and ethnic groups, e.g. Prisoners Correspondence)

  • Diaries (LCSH) (combine with names of individuals, classes of people, and ethnic groups, e.g. Women Diaries)

  • Interviews (LCSH) (combine with names of individuals, classes of people, and ethnic groups, e.g. Activists Interviews)

Use Browzine to search for and explore journals by title or to browse journals by topic. The Gordon Library recommends broadly searching using the keyword 'race', and then clicking into some of the more narrowly focused topical materials. For critically minded resources, try using the subject heading 'Race, ethnicity', and Postcolonial studies' to explore possible journal offerings (see below).


Engaging with Race’s Role in American Law

"In 2021, RWU Law became one of the only law schools in the country to have added a new required course on race and the law to its core legal curriculum. It is designed to improve critical thinking about the law by offering important and often overlooked perspectives on race, and to prepare students for the fast-evolving legal landscape in which they will soon be practicing."

The Citing Slavery Project

"The Citing Slavery Project provides a database of slave cases and the modern cases that continue to cite them as precedent. Today, American judges and lawyers continue to cite slave cases for fundamental legal propositions."

1619 Project Podcast (NYTimes)

“‘1619’ is a New York Times audio series, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, that examines the long shadow of American slavery. Listen to the episodes below, or read the transcripts by clicking the icon to the right of the play bar. For more information about the series, visit”

Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation (Carnegie Mellon)

“Our job is to help you be successful in your teaching; Our Mission is to distill the research on learning for faculty and graduate students and collaborate with them to design and implement meaningful educational experiences. We believe that combining the science and art of teaching empowers our colleagues to create the conditions for students to learn and, through this learning, transform their world.”

Documenting the American South

Documenting the American South (DocSouth) is a digital publishing initiative that provides Internet access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture. Currently DocSouth includes sixteen thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs.

The University Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sponsors Documenting the American South, and the texts and materials come primarily from its southern holdings. The UNC University Library is committed to the long-term availability of these collections and their online records. An editorial board guides development of this digital library.

Documenting the South—North American Slave Narratives (U. North Carolina)

“‘North American Slave Narratives’ collects books and articles that document the individual and collective story of Black people struggling for freedom and human rights in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. This collection includes all the existing autobiographical narratives of self-emancipated and formerly enslaved people published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920. Also included are many of the biographies of self-emancipated and formerly enslaved people and some significant fictionalized first-person accounts of enslavement published in English before 1920.”

Transatlantic Slave Database—Slave Voyages

“The Slave Voyages website is a collaborative digital initiative that compiles and makes publicly accessible records of the largest slave trades in history. Search these records to learn about the broad origins and forced relocations of more than 12 million African people who were sent across the Atlantic in slave ships, and hundreds of thousands more who were trafficked within the Americas. Explore where they were taken, the numerous rebellions that occurred, the horrific loss of life during the voyages, the identities and nationalities of the perpetrators, and much more.”

American Slave Narrative—An Online Anthology (U. Virginia)

“From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration. These former slaves, most born in the last years of the slave regime or during the Civil War, provided first-hand accounts of their experiences on plantations, in cities, and on small farms. Their narratives remain a peerless resource for understanding the lives of America's four million slaves. What makes the WPA narratives so rich is that they capture the very voices of American slavery, revealing the texture of life as it was experienced and remembered. Each narrative taken alone offers a fragmentary, microcosmic representation of slave life. Read together, they offer a sweeping composite view of slavery in North America, allowing us to explore some of the most compelling themes of nineteenth-century slavery, including labor, resistance and flight, family life, relations with masters, and religious belief.”

Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories [Collection] (Library of Congress)—see also the American Folklife Center @

“The recordings of former slaves in Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine states. Twenty-two interviewees discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. Several individuals sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement. It is important to note that all of the interviewees spoke sixty or more years after the end of their enslavement, and it is their full lives that are reflected in these recordings. The individuals documented in this presentation have much to say about living as African Americans from the 1870s to the 1930s, and beyond.

All known recordings of former slaves in the American Folklife Center are included in this presentation.”

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936 to 1938

“Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves.  These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project (FWP) of the Works Progress Administration, later renamed Work Projects Administration (WPA).  At the conclusion of the Slave Narrative project, a set of edited transcripts was assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. In 2000-2001, with major support from the Citigroup Foundation, the Library digitized the narratives from the microfilm edition and scanned from the originals 500 photographs, including more than 200 that had never been microfilmed or made publicly available.  This online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs divisions of the Library of Congress.”

Visualizing Emancipation (U. Richmond)

“Visualizing Emancipation organizes documentary evidence about when, where, and how slavery fell apart during the American Civil War. Funded by a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, it shows how emancipation occurred unevenly across the South, beginning before the first major battles and ending after the end of the Confederacy. It shows the complex interactions between federal policies, armies in the field, and the actions of enslaved men and women on countless farms and city blocks.”


Preserving Japanese American stories of the past forthe generations of tomorrow:.history, essays, & opinion. Dive into hidden histories and learn why these stories matter today with the latest essays and opinions from Densho and other community voices.

Colored Conventions 

Founded in 2012, the award-winning Colored Conventions Project (CCP) core team is comprised of a diverse group of dedicated and energetic scholars, graduate student leaders, librarians, and undergraduate researchers. In 2020, CCP became one of three flagship projects of the Center for Black Digital Research, #DigBlk, at Penn State University. Project members represent a wide range of academic disciplines from English and history to computer science and German. Augmented by our North American Teaching Partners, our interdisciplinary team is committed to generating an online hub that “brings buried African American history to digital life” and attends to social justice activism in scholarship and research by offering an opportunity for deep engagement with 19th-century Black political organizing. 

For access to the full documentary, please click on or cut and paste the following link into your browser, and then login to Academic Video Online with your WPI credentials.