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African American Life

Tips for Searching in This Topic

Search Tip #1

A search term can be used in combination with another search term to improve the relevance of your search results in databases, the Library's Discover and Catalog searches, and even in Google and other search engines.

To find narrative or autobiographical writings penned by American Slaves, start with the search term "slaves" then add a second or even third search term.


  • Slaves AND Narratives
  • Slaves AND "Social Conditions"
  • Slaves AND "United States" AND Biography

Search Tip #2

Try searching Slavery, a named person, or named place as a subject instead of a keyword to limit results to materials that are about that topic. A keyword search only means that your searched term appears somewhere in the text of the books and articles in your results.

Search Tip #3

As an example, here are just a few of the subject terms we noted when retrieving the materials listed on this page:

Slave narratives Slave narratives -- United States
Slaves' writings, American Slaves -- United States -- Biography
Slaves -- United States -- Social conditions African American abolitionists
Fugitive slaves -- United States Douglass, Frederick
Jacobs, Harriet A Lane, Lunsford

Need a quick start?

Here is a list of McDermott Library's materials on the topic of American slavery narratives from a saved advanced search.

There is always more to be found! Try adjusting keywords or adding names or location to shape your results.

Selected Slave Narrative Collections on the Web

Primary Resources at McDermott Library

Visit the Primary Sources tab in this guide for a complete list of McDermott Library databases containing newspapers, diaries, journals, interviews, and other first-hand accounts across various subject areas.

Can't find it? Contact ILL!

Books and articles not found in UTD Library collections can be requested at no charge through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

Delivery time: Books/Media: 5-10 business days; Article/Chapter PDF: 1-2 days.