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Bessie Coleman: First African American and Native American Aviator

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Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman around the time of her French visit, circa 1922. Smithsonian Institution.

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

Bessie Coleman
African American Women Air Pilots

Genealogy, African American and Western History Resources

The Western History & Genealogy department focuses on Colorado and the West. These materials do not check out, but are available to view on Floor 5 of the Central Library.

The Blair Caldwell African American Research Library archives and reference collection contain primary and secondary source materials about African Americans who helped shape the West. These materials do not check out, but are available to view at the Blair Caldwell library. Email askblaircaldwell@denverlibrary.org or call 720-865-2401 for more information.

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.

U.S. History (Gale in Context)

Provides a complete overview of our nation’s past that covers the most-studied events, decades, conflicts, wars, political and cultural movements, and people from reference sources, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted web sites.

Available in library or 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.

Site authored and updated by the family of Bessie Coleman
Website for Black Wings exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Biography created by the National Women's History Museum
Biography and entry into the National Aviation Hall of Fame

Contact the Reference Services department for help with your research project