Great databases in honor of Black History Month

Researchers can find biographies, speeches, personal letters, legal documents and more

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President Lyndon Johnson shakes hands with the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., at the signing of the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964.

Image credit: Flickr/U.S. Embassy New Delhi's photostream

There are a lot of cool databases out there covering an unbelievable number of topics.

For example, here's a fish DNA database designed to fight seafood fraud and promote conservation, and here's a German database designed to track the rise of neo-Nazis.

Starting today I'll occasionally feature interesting databases in this blog as I come across them. Since February is Black History Month, I thought it'd be appropriate to highlight databases related to African-Americans.

Afriquest is a free online database for records of African American genealogy and history. The site, run by the University of South Florida, allows readers to share and preserve documents, images and family oral history.

The African American Biographical Database, run by a company called ProQuest, is a subscription database that claims to have the "largest electronic collection of biographical information on African Americans" from 1790 to 1950.

AABD offers accounts of slave life and the experiences of African American business owners, educators, religious leaders and more. It includes historic photographs and illustrations and birth records.

The African American Inventors Database includes the names of the inventors, the nature of their creations, and the patent date. For example, on April 14, 1891, William B. Abrams received a patent for the "Hame attachment," a part for a draft horse's collar that allows the animal to be pulled.

There are many more run by various universities around the U.S., but most require that users be students or employees of the institutions in question. This Google search gives you an idea of what's out there.

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