Documents of the Harlem Renaissance
by Thomas J. Davis and Brenda M. Brock
January 2021, 243pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5556-6
$97, £72, 84€, A132
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5557-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The Harlem Renaissance embodied the momentum that would give rise to the Great Migration, the relocation of more than six million blacks from the South in the search for new lives.

This book explores the transformative energy and excitement that African Americans expressed in aesthetic and civic currents that percolated during the opening of the 20th century and proved to be a force in the modernization of America.

This engaging reference text represents the voices of the era in poetry and prose, in full or excerpted from anecdotes, editorials, essays, manifestoes, orations, and reminiscences, with appearances by major figures and often overlooked contributors to the Harlem Renaissance.

Organized topically and, within topics, chronologically, the volume reaches beyond the typical representation of the spirit and substance of the movement, examinations of which are typically confined to the New York City community and from U.S. entry into World War I in 1917 to the depths of the Great Depression in 1935. It carries readers from the opening of the Harlem Renaissance, which began at the top of the 20th century, to its heights in the 1920s and ’30s and through to its artistic and literary echoes in the shadows of World War II (1939–1945).


  • Collects more than 100 primary source documents, excerpting literature and commentary on arts and activities that produced illustrative images
  • Defines the "New Negro" within the context of the Harlem Renaissance, explaining how the identity of the "New Negro" was central to the ideology and cultural expressions of the Harlem Renaissance
  • Covers more than 60 personalities of the movement, offering both diverse and divergent perspectives on African American experiences during the first third of the 20th century
  • Includes both popularly recognized and often overlooked contributors to the Harlem Renaissance
Thomas J. Davis, PhD, JD, is professor emeritus of history at Arizona State University, Tempe. He is author of History of African Americans: Exploring Diverse Roots, Plessy v. Ferguson, Race Relations in America: A Reference Guide with Primary Documents, Race Relations in the United States, 1940–1960, and other works. A historian and lawyer, he focuses on issues of race, identity, and law, particularly U.S. constitutional issues of civil rights.

Brenda M. Brock, MA, ABD, is an independent scholar of American and African American literature and author of various articles on the likes of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Zora Neale Hurston, and Nella Larsen. She focuses particularly on themes of race, nation, and gender. A former college and university administrator and teacher, she has worked at Earlham College, Williams College, Swarthmore College, the University at Buffalo, and Arizona State University, Tempe.


2021 Choice Outstanding Academic Title—Choice, December 1, 2021

2022 Best Historical Materials Award—Reference and User Services Association [RUSA], January 26, 2022


"Providing primary sources alongside ample thoughtful information to help with interpretation, this volume will be useful to a wide range of researchers, from high school students to undergraduates to general readers."—Library Journal, May 1, 2021

"An essential starting place for public, high school, and college library reference shelves to undergird coursework in American history, the Black diaspora, and Black feminism, this source deserves every consideration."—Choice, October 1, 2021

"Essential. General readers through advanced undergraduates."—Choice, December 1, 2021

Eyewitness to History

ABC-CLIO’s Eyewitness to History series provides primary documents accompanied by invaluable contextualizing information to help readers understand historical developments, events, and individuals. The books’ format allows for a remarkable range of documents that showcase a wide variety of perspectives, including personal narratives, letters, and first-hand accounts; newspaper stories, op-ed pieces, and contemporary reactions and responses; and government and legislative documents, such as laws, speeches, and court testimony.

Each title in the series offers a fascinating documentary history devoted to a significant era, event, or social movement. The carefully curated primary sources give the actual words of people who lived through these past times, empowering today’s readers and researchers to consider the topic critically, fairly, and intelligently.
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