African American Entrepreneurs and Tulsa, Oklahoma

2023 Guides - Theme: Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas
Loula Cotten Williams and Family

Loula Cotten Williams (standing third from left) is pictured with her parents and siblings, c. 1902. She later relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she and her husband, John Wesley Williams, owned and operated the Dreamland Theatre. Image courtesy of the Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Families of Anita Williams Christopher and David Owen Williams.

Getting Started

Begin your research by brainstorming keywords - the words and phrases you’ll use to search for books, articles, websites, government documents, and other resources. These may include names of people and places or historical concepts like eras and movements. A librarian can suggest “subject headings” to find the most relevant resources.

Example Keywords & Catalog Subject Headings

Black Wall Street
African Americans Tulsa History
Tulsa Race Relations
Tulsa Race Riots
African American Entrepreneurs

Genealogy, African American and Western History Resources

The Western History & Genealogy department focuses on Colorado and the West and features many primary source materials.  

The Blair Caldwell African American Research Library collections focus on African American history and culture in Colorado and the West, and also feature many primary source collections. 

Items from these two departments do not check out and are available to see at the Central Library when we are open. Western History and Blair-Caldwell staff are available to assist by phone and email and can provide scans of collection items for your project. To contact these two departments, email history@denverlibrary.org or askblaircaldwell@denverlibrary.org and include "National History Day" in your subject line. You may also call 720-865-1821.

Database/Online Resources

Library databases are online collections of information, organized for research. Databases contain articles, eBooks, images, maps, primary sources and more. If you don’t have a library card, register online for immediate access to these resources. The following recommended databases are available on our Research and Teen Social Studies pages.

Black Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Black Newspapers offers primary source material essential to the study of American history and Black culture, history, politics, and the arts.  Each of the Historical Black Newspapers provides access to perspectives and information that was excluded or marginalized in mainstream sources. Examine major movements from the Harlem Renaissance to Civil Rights, and explore everyday life as written in the Chicago DefenderThe Baltimore Afro-AmericanNew York Amsterdam NewsPittsburgh CourierLos Angeles SentinelAtlanta Daily WorldThe Norfolk Journal and GuideThe Philadelphia TribuneCleveland Call and Post, and Michigan Chronicle.

Available with library card

New York Times Collection

New York Times Collection:

New York Times Full Text 

  • Coverage: 1980 - present
  • Full-text articles of the New York Times newspaper, including today’s issue.
    Search includes these New York Times publications, with various date coverages: The Daily (Podcast), New York Times Late Edition (East Coast), New York Times Book Review, New York Times Español, New York Times Magazine, New York Times (Online), New York Times (Video).

New York Times Scanned Newspapers

  • Coverage: 2008 - recent (up to 3-months ago)
  • Full-page color scans of the New York Times provides researchers, genealogists, and scholars with cover-to-cover access to recent newspaper content. Full-text searchable.

New York Times Historical 

  • Coverage: 1851 - 2018
  • Full-text and images in PDF format of the New York Times. Provides genealogists, researchers and scholars with online, first-hand accounts and coverage of the politics, society and events of the time.

Available with library card

Ethnic Diversity Source (Ebsco)

Covers the culture, traditions, social treatment and lived experiences of different ethnic groups in America. It provides full text from a growing list of sources including peer-reviewed journals, magazines, e-books, biographies and primary source documents.

Available with library card

Prospector: Materials from Other Colorado and Wyoming Libraries

​​As a Denver Public Library customer, you can also borrow materials from other libraries in Colorado and Wyoming. Use Prospector to request materials that DPL does not own.

Internet Sources

Before using information you find on the internet for assignments and research, it is important to establish that the information comes from a reliable and appropriate source. The following websites, from government, academic and nonprofit organizations, have been evaluated for authority, accuracy, content and currency.

The Greenwood Cultural Center is the keeper of the flame for the Black Wall Street era, the events known as the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and the astounding resurgence of the Greenwood District in the months and years following the tragedy. Their webpage contains a number of primary source documents and photos.
Primary source audio, photos, and documents curated by the Tulsa Historical Society.
Article exploring Black Wall Street's prominence before the 1921 massacre from History.com
Guide to further research with Library of Congress.

Contact the Reference Services department for help with your research project