African-American Traditions in Song, Sermon, Tale, and Dance is undeniably the most valuable resource available to scholars engaged in Afro-American folk culture research. An untapped wealth of primary information has been chronologically cataloged within this comprehensive, annotated guide. It covers a period of over 300 years of African-American cultural history in the United States. Materials fall into three categories: literary publications, iconographical records, and collections of song, tale, and sermon texts. Focusing on folk culture, 2,328 items were chosen for their historical relevance as well as to insure broad representation. Eileen Southern and Josephine Wright's bibliography provides researchers with the tools needed to shatter myths and stereotypes and to form concise theses supported by extensive evidence.
The bibliography is divided into four major chronological sections: Colonial-Federalist, Antebellum, Post-Emancipation, and Early Twentieth Century. A fifth section, The WPA Slave Narrative Collection, includes materials (collected in the 1930s) that are essential to a serious discussion of American slavery. Within these five sections materials are classified as literature, artwork, and/or collections. Literature and artwork subsections are further divided into social activities, religious experience, song, and tale. Iconographical entries often compliment the literary ones and some themes run throughout the book. The materials are indexed by names of authors and artists, by subject, and by first lines of songs.