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Black History Month

Explore Library resources, stories and perspectives on Black History Month from Lancaster University Library and beyond.

On classifying blackness

Library collections at Lancaster University are organised using the BLISS classification system and subject headings. There are many useful classmarks and subject headings that will help you find material relevant to Black History which are listed below.

However, academics and librarians are aware that the act of organising knowledge according to classification schemes devised a long time ago can compound problems of white- and west- centricism: the act of treating white and 'western' as being the default.

We recognise this is problematic and can be offensive when outdated language is used. We recognise that there is much work to be done to maintain the ability to discover material related to black people, culture and history without perpetuating structural racism.

At Lancaster University Library we are lucky to have passionate staff working hard to remove these kinds of embedded institutional discriminations. We are connected to networks of academics and students who support this work by making suggestions and recommendations that we can take forward, and we are working on making it known that we want to be better and that with as many people involved as possible we can continue to push for radical change.

Further reading

Crilly, J. (2019) Decolonising the library: a theoretical explorationSpark: UAL Creative Teaching and Learning Journal, 4(1) 6-15 

Black Cultural Archives

Lancashire museum collections

National Archives

Useful classmarks for History

Books and pamphlets are shelved on both A and B floors.  Key classmarks are:

Subject Classmark
Racial Anthropology HBR
Race relations






African American History, Civil Rights Movement



African History OS-OXY
African Language and linguistics WK
Black music  VXZ
Black American English YAZAL
African English YAZE
Caribbean English YAZU

Useful subject headings for Black History

Most of the time it is easiest to search with keywords. Subject headings are used to bring material on a similar topic together. Below are some subject headings that will direct you to interesting material. 

  • Africans - followed by a  further topic, for example:
    • Africans - England
  • African history
  • Afro-American - followed by a further topic, for example:
    • Afro-American art
  • Afrocentrism
  • Black business enterprises
  • Black race
  • Blacks - followed by a country name or further topic, for example:
    • Blacks - employment
    • Blacks - England
    • Blacks - History
  • Blacks in literature

Search for country, continent, region and tribal names. Using outdated colonial names will find older material, for example Zimbabwe OR Rhodesia.

You can use the 'Browse' feature in OneSearch to look up Subjects.