1960s Civil Rights Research Guide

Welcome to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s guide! This guide is intended to provide a starting point for University of Michigan undergraduates in their research. Although this guide focuses on civil rights in the 1960s, this decade is by no means either the start or end point for civil rights efforts, which extend back to the Reconstruction Period in the South following the Civil War and continue to this day, albeit in a variety of forms. While numerous efforts for equality occurred since the mid-nineteenth century, it was the events of the 1950s, such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the refusal of Rosa Parks to give up her seat on a city bus (also 1954), that precipitated the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Resources Included in this Guide

    • For a brief, basic overview of the movement as a whole, specific events within the movement, or individuals’ biographies, please look at the sources listed under the General Reference Sources tab — here you will find encyclopedias, dictionaries, and maps related to the civil rights in the 1960s.
    • Books are ideal for providing  an overview as well as an in-depth look at the Civil Rights Movement, whether for a research project or for personal education. The texts listed in the Books tab were selected to provide an introduction to the movement as well as coverage of less-publicized aspects.
    • Although this guide provides directions for finding articles from databases, it also includes a tab for Journals specific to the Civil Rights Movement. Academic journals are ideal for those who want to browse relevant scholarly materials to look for articles.
    • Because the sentiments of the Civil Rights Movement were expressed in numerous ways, links to some of the songs innate to the movement, as well as the most comprehensive documentaries of the movement, have been included in this guide. Click on the Audiovisual tab in the menu to immerse yourself in the sounds and sights of the 1960s.
    • While there is much to be learned from scholarly writings on the Civil Rights Movement, the importance of primary sources should not be underestimated. The Archival Collection tab allows you to access primary sources in the forms of images, documents, letters, and papers written by the key people of the Civil Rights Movement. The links allow for viewing the primary sources online  and also finding collections around the country.
    • While the internet can provide a wealth of material, it can be hard to distinguish what is a reputable source. The links provided under the Websites tab are for the official websites of reputable organizations, centers, and individuals seeking to provide information on the Civil Rights Movement.
    • For those seeking articles on the Civil Rights Movement, this guide provides information on how to use databases to find articles. While scholarly databases related to African American life and history are provided, the Finding Articles tab also includes databases of historical newspapers to allow you to see how the Civil Rights Movement was reported by the media during the 1960s.


NB: All references to Mirlyn records refer to the MLibrary catalogue of the same name. Any text that has this coloring and style are clickable links.