Race Relations in America

Surveys and Papers from The Amistad Research Center, 1943-1970

Explore three pivotal decades in the struggle for civil rights in America.

Outstanding Academic Title 2017
Choice Reviews

Discover a wealth of primary source material on the Civil Rights Movement, segregation, discrimination and racial theory in America during three pivotal decades of the twentieth century.

The Race Relations Department, based at Fisk University, was a highly influential think tank offering a forum for discussion and research on racial topics. The work of the Department highlighted topics such as poverty and inequality, class, housing, employment, education and government policy. Its programme attracted many well-known figures in the Civil Rights Movement, including Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin, Charles Houston, and Marguerite Cartwright.

This resource sheds light on the fascinating work of the Department through the digitisation of extensive records from the Department’s archives, now held at the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans.

Read an interview with Consultant Editor and Associate Professor, Educational Policy and Leadership at the University of Iowa, Katrina M. Sanders, on the content of the collection, from the December 2016 issue of Library Journal.

Key Data

Period Covered

  • 1928-1970


  • Over 100 hours of audio recordings of speeches given by prominent members of the Civil Rights Movement, eminent sociologists, economists, industrial experts and psychologists.
  • A wealth of survey material covering school desegregation, church integration, employment practices, housing and recreation.
  • Detailed case studies and community self-surveys on key cities across the United States.
  • Campaigns against voter suppression in African American communities.
  • Photographs of the participants at the annual Race Relations Institute.
  • Scrapbooks for several of the annual Institutes, collating rosters, photographs, publicity material, media coverage and key speeches.

Source Archive

  • Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, LA

Material Types

  • Audio recordings
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • Correspondence
  • Reports
  • Minutes
  • Statistics and raw data
  • Photographs
  • Maps
  • Scrapbooks
  • Periodicals

Editorial Board

  • Marybeth Gasman, Rutgers University 
  • John Giggie, University of Alabama
  • Christopher Harter, Amistad Research Center, New Orleans
  • Thomas Pettigrew, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Carmelita Pickett, University of Virginia
  • Katrina M. Sanders, University of Iowa


  • Crime and police brutality
  • Community protests and race riots
  • Poverty and discrimination
  • Voting rights
  • Urban renewal and housing problems
  • Health care and welfare programmes
  • Migration from the South into northern cities
  • Demographics
  • The role of the church in African American communities
  • Labour movements
  • Student protests and other non-violent demonstrations
  • African American culture
  • Ethnic groups such as Indigenous Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Chinese and Japanese citizens

Key Features

  • Interactive map allowing users to browse the extensive survey material produced by the Race Relations Department.
  • Audio recordings of speeches and panel discussions featuring key members of the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall.
  • Contextual essays
  • Thematic guides
  • Interactive chronology
  • Data association tool to explore the participation of the Race Relations Institute.


Race Relations in America is a significant, well-curated, proprietary digital archive for scholars and students conducting research on civil rights.

The database provides several tools for teaching and research. Of particular note, it includes an interactive map to relate survey and studies documents to the dates and places across the ......