African American History in Atlantic City


African Americans are Atlantic City's largest racial group. Many great African American performers and entertainers, sports professionals, and business professionals spent time in Atlantic City. Resources about African Americans in Atlantic City are found in the Atlantic City Free Public Library's Atlantic City Heritage Collections. Resources in the Heston Collection are available for public use during research hours or by appointment.

Online Research Library

Oxford African American Studies Center . (Available through library website from home with your library card or inside the library.)
Biographical information, maps, primary source documents, timelines, tables, charts and more on thousands of African Americans and related topics.

Online Local News Index. (Available through library website from home or inside the library.) Searchable index to local news articles published from 1984 to the present.

Published Resources

"The Black Experience in Southern New Jersey: Events of 1984. " Various Articles. (Heston 305.896 Bla)
Articles about the election of Atlantic City's first African American mayor James Usry, and articles about casinos and urban redevelopment.

Butler, Rebecca Batts.  Bronze Stars of the Delaware Valley: From 1998 to the Millennium.  Deptford, New Jersey: C C Publishers, 2000.
Includes brief biographies of a few African American women from Atlantic City.

Camden County Historical Society. The Black Experience in Southern New Jersey : Papers Presented at a Symposium at the Camden County Historical Society, February 11-12, 1984.  (Heston 325.26 Bla)
A collection of papers written by three scholars: Clement Price, Spencer Crew, and Herbert Foster.  Papers focus on the impact African-Americans made in the development of Atlantic City and Camden, New Jersey.

Corbin, Raymond A.  1999 Facts About Blacks: A Sourcebook of African-American Accomplishment. United States: Beckham House Publishers, Inc., 1986.  (Heston 305.896 Cor)
A source book of African-American accomplishments presented in a question and answer format. Some facts listed apply to Atlantic City, NJ.

Cross, June. Secret Daughter: A Mixed-Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away. New York: Viking, 2006.
Friends of Cross' family in Atlantic City raised June Cross, the daughter of a black man and a white woman.

Dixon, Phil.  The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History.  Mattituck, New York: Amereon House, 1992.

Ellis, Catherine and Stephen Drury Smith, editors.  Say It Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches.  New York: The New Press, 2005.  (Heston 815.508 Say)
An anthology of African-American political speeches.  Includes Fannie Lou Hamer’s address at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City.  Book includes text transcripts and audio of all speeches.

Foster, Herbert James.  The Urban Experience of Blacks in Atlantic City , New Jersey, 1850-1915.  Ph.D. diss., Rutgers University, 1981. (Heston 305.896 Fos) Study of the essential role African-Americans played in the development of Atlantic City as a successful resort.

Goddard, Richlyn F.  Three Months to Hurry and Nine Months to Worry: Resort Life for African Americans in Atlantic City, New Jersey (1850-1940).  Ph.D. diss., Howard University, 2001. (Heston 305.896 God) Historical and socio-cultural study of the African-American community in Atlantic City.

Goddard, Richlyn F.  The Other Side of the Boardwalk: The African American Experience in Atlantic City, N.J., 1880 to 1940.  Temple University, Spring, 1991.  (Heston 305.896073 God) Paper written about the role African- Americans played in the development of Atlantic City.

Griffin, Sean Patrick.  Philadelphia’s ‘Black Mafia’: A Social and Political History.  Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003.  (Heston 364.106 Gri) 
This book uses primary source documents to explore the mafia’s activities and crimes in detail and includes mafia activity in Atlantic City. 

Hammond, Cynthia, comp.  Atlantic City African-American History Trail (Black History Month).  Atlantic City, New Jersey: City of Atlantic City, 2001-present. (Heston 305.874986 Atl)
The annual African-American History Trail is designed to bring awareness to African-Americans in Atlantic City.  The trail book is a guide to important African-American establishments, both past and present, found in Atlantic City.

Hogan, Lawrence.  Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball.  Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2006.

Johnson, Nelson. The Northside: African Americans and the Creation of Atlantic City. Medford, NJ: Plexus Publishing, 2010.

Kyle, Howard J.  An Early African-American History of Atlantic City, February 28, 1992.  Prepared for the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, Black History Observance, February 28, 1992.  (Heston Stack #5)
A discussion of the early history of African-Americans in Atlantic City from about 1869 to the First World War.

Lee, Chana Kai.  For Freedom’s Sake: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer.  Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1999.  (Heston Bio Hamer, Fannie Lou) A biography of the life and accomplishments of Fannie Lou Hamer.  Hamer’s appearance at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City brought national attention to Hamer and black Mississippians.

The New Jersey Conference of Social Work. The Negro in New Jersey: Report of a survey by the Interracial Committee of the New Jersey Conference of Social Work.  Newark: New Jersey Conference of Social Work, 1932. (Heston Stack #5)
Survey conducted by the New Jersey State Department of Institutions and Agencies in cooperation with the Interracial Committee of the New Jersey Conference of Social Work to explore the social and economic status of the African American population in New Jersey.

Palmer, Walter, comp.  American Racism: Community Cooperative Ideas.  Atlantic City: Atlantic Community College, 1994.  (Heston Stack #5)
A collection of student papers prepared in connection with “American Racism,” a course taught at Atlantic Community College by Dr. Walter Palmer during the 1993-1994 academic year.

Raheem, Turiya S.A. Growing Up in the Other Atlantic City. Xlibris Corporation, 2009.
Experiences of the Washington Family of Wash's Restaurant.

Ruck, Rob and Molly Youngling, producers.  Kings on the Hill: Baseball’s Forgotten Men.  Pittsburgh, PA: San Pedro Productions, Ltd., 1993. VHS.

Tate, Celestine. Some Crawl and Never Walk. Pittsburgh, PA: Dorrance Publishing, 1995.
The inspiring autobiography of an Atlantic City artist with mulitple physical disabilities.

Wright, Giles.  A Civil Rights Turning Point: Fannie Lou Hamer in Atlantic City, 1964. New Jersey Historical Commission, 2005.
VHS tape documents the life and achievements of Civil Right’s activist, Fannie Lou Hamer.  Ms. Hamer addressed the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, 1964.  A teacher’s guide accompanies the video tape.


Black Atlantic City Magazine, 1979-1986; Black New Jersey Magazine (formerly Black Atlantic City Magazine), 1987-1990.

Black News and Events
, 1987-1996 (incomplete).

The Network News
, 1994 – 1997.

Local History Biography Files

Local History Subject Files

Archival Collections

Archival Collections related to African Americans in Atlantic City include:

  • 101 Women Plus Records (Heston Collection H059) .
  • Dorothy J. Beatty "Black History of Atlantic City" Oral History Project (H057).
  • Board of Trade Directories: 1936, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1945, 1947.
  • African American Churches in Atlantic City: photographs, church histories, Local History Subject Files, History of the Negro Church in New Jersey (WPA).
  • Federal Writers Project, New Jersey Ethnic Survey, African Americans in Atlantic City. Survey of Negro Life in New Jersey: Atlantic City.  Interracial Committee Department of Institutions and Agencies, July 1932. 
    "The Negro in Business (in Atlantic City)"
    "The Rise of the Negro Professional Man (in Atlantic City)"
    "Economic Shifts and Migratory Influences (in Atlantic City)"
    "The Negro Laborer (in Atlantic City)" – incomplete
    "Earning a Living in Atlantic City" – incomplete
    "Social Agencies (in Atlantic City)" – incomplete
    "Education of Negroes in Atlantic City"
  • The Links, Inc. (Atlantic City Chapter) Records (H060): minutes (1948-1996), Linkages…Toward the Possible: Celebrating 50 years of friendship and service, The Links Scrapbook: 1946 to 1997 From the Beginning, Local History Subject File.
  • Pop Lloyd Collection (H012).
  • Organization of Teachers of Colored Children in the State of New Jersey (founded in Atlantic City Area): Annual meeting programs 1923-1931 and 1933-1945 (missing 1932); Bulletin (1927, 1942).
  • Records of Fay-Mor-Wee, Home for the Aged and Infirmary, Inc. (H011).
  • Chicken Bone Beach Collection (H030).
  • Harold P. Abrams Collection (H007).
  • Alma Fay Horn Photograph Collection (H008).
  • Sand Snipers Basketball Team Photograph Collection (H037).
  • Apex Country Club Photograph Collection (H038).
  • Club Harlem Collection (H039).
  • Walls Family Photograph Collection (H063).
  • Pearl Chapman Collection.