Books in Brief

Article excerpt

The historic contributions of women - especially African-American women - are gradually finding their way into the pages of history.

Reference materials, in particular, have long neglected the lives and works of black women in America. The recent publication of reference books, an anthology, and an autobiography focusing on African-American women is helping to fill this gap.

BLACK WOMEN IN AMERICA: AN HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA, edited by historian Darlene Clark Hine (Carlson Publishing, 1,530 pp., $195). This two-volume encyclopedia is the first comprehensive reference book to chronicle the role of black women in American history, from the 17th-century to the present.

"This historic encyclopedia project was initiated to reclaim and to create heightened awareness about individuals, contributions, and struggles that have made African-American survival and progress possible," Ms. Hine writes in the editor's preface.

The two volumes include more than 800 entries, listing individuals, organizations, and general topics related to the history of African-American women. The individual biographies of more than 400 black women range from Maya Angelou to Aunt Jemima, from Harriet Tubman to Rosa Parks, and from Sojourner Truth to Oprah Winfrey.

Biographies of four black men - W. E. B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and Marcus Garvey - are included because of their contribution to the progress of black women.

The essay-like entries provide more insight than the typical dry, straightforward encyclopedia listing. Each entry is followed by a brief bibliography offering ideas for further research. More than 400 photographs are interspersed throughout the text.

Volume Two includes a "Chronology of Black Women in the United States. …