Researching Black Adventist History Online

There has never been more resources available at the swipe or press of a finger. This is now especially true of materials on Seventh-day Adventist history, which numerous church entities have dedicated themselves to making freely available on the web. Below is a suite of sites for those wishing to research any aspect of black Seventh-day Adventism, be it geneaology, biography, local church, church structure, institutions, etc.

Google, or Other Search Engine

It is probably wisest to start any research project off with a search on a search engine, be it Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. A thorough search should include one for the subject alone, and then a search for the subject plus additional terms, in this instance "Adventist" or "SDA." For Google, go four to five pages into the search, and also be sure to explore the Images, Videos, and Books tabs.

General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research

This is the site of the official archives of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. It is home to some two million pages of materials, including official church periodicals, GC session and NAD minutes, the Annual Statistical Report, and the SDA Yearbook. Below are the links that those researching black SDA history will find especially useful.

Periodicals: Any name or search term can be plugged in here. Bear in mind that search terms more than one word should contain quotation marks.

Review and Herald (1850-1998): This is the best source for primary source information on the Seventh-day Adventist past. Perform searches here for names of black people, local churches, locales, etc.

The Gospel Herald (1898-1923): Begun by James Edson White as an organ for the Southern Missionary Society's evangelistic and educational efforts in the Deep South, these issues contain eyewitness reports of the early work in the South.

The North American Informant (1946-1978): With the inauguration of Regional Conferences, this was the organ of Black Adventism in the United States. It was replaced by The North American Regional Voice.

The North American Regional Voice (1979-1990): This periodical contains invaluable information on Regional Conferences in their golden age. 

Adventist Heritage (1974-1998): Solely dedicated to Adventist history, this journal is a gem. There could have been more on ethnic Adventism, but there are occasional issues that feature articles on the topic. 

Note: The Periodicals website also features conference and union periodicals. These will contain stories and updates on items pertinent to the black work.

Minutes: Here are minutes of official church boards, committees, councils and meetings. Spring Meeting and Annual (Fall and Autumn) Council minutes can be found in the General Conference Committee Minutes. Items on the black work are in abundance in the North American Division Minutes. The General Conference Session Minutes are also a gold mine.

Books: Performing a general search in this section is advised. There are general histories of the church that have sections on the black work, although most of these are extraced here. These are the books completely dedicated to aspects of black Adventist history:

A Place Called Oakwood

E.G. White and Church Race Relations

Lights and Shades in the Black Belt

Mission to Black America

People of Providence

Telling the Story

The Christian Experience of William E. Foy

The Southern Work

Sabbath School Quarterlies: Every Sabbath School Quarterly, except for within two years of the most current issue, is here. There have been a number of black authors of quarterlies, and if one wishes to do a study of the contribution of blacks to Adventist theology, this is a good place to begin.

Regional Conference Origins, Parts 1-3: These are compilations of original documents on the black work, with a focus on 1940-1945. There is a good deal of minutes, but also correspondence and manuscripts from the GC Archives vault.

SDA Yearbook (1884-2017): This is the official record of the church employees and institutions in a given year, and this page contains each Yearbook that the church has produced. 

Annual Statistical Report (1899-2017): This official annual church publication contains the essential stats of the church.

Adventist Digital Library

ADL is geared to be the clearinghouse for Adventist history resources on the internet. Although at this early stage it is still amassing materials, it boasts an impressive amount of sources. Searches can be done in specific collections, or over the entire site. 

SDA Periodical Index

The SDAPI allows you to search for articles in Adventist periodicals. The Periodicals section of the GC Archives above should have most of the full articles that your searches yield; for the others, you may have to visit the archives/back issues section on the relevant periodical's website.

SDA Obituary Index

The SDAOI is the source for obituaries found in church publications. The Periodicals section of the GC Archives above should have most of periodical issues that the obituaries searches yield; for the others, you may have to visit the archives/back issues section on the relevant periodical's website.

Ellen G. White Estate

The Ellen G. White Estate now has several websites that can assist in your research. Most important is which now has all of Ellen White's writings, including the previously unreleased 40,000 pages that were made available on this site upon the centenary of her death in 2015. Also on this site is the Adventist Pioneer Library, which can be searched by selecting the title in the left-hand menu. Although an exhaustive compilation of White's statements on blacks is now available, searches on black SDA topics can be done over all of White's corpus. also contains a wealth of materials on the life of Ellen White and those with whom she interacted. In the Resources tab you will notice that the White Estate is steadily uploading the incoming letters to Ellen White.

Digital Commons @ Andrews University

Digital Commons has made available for free download thousands of dissertations, theses, and other academic papers from Andrews University, a scholarly center of Adventism. Searches can be done over all the holdings, or for dissertations and theses.

Oakwood University, Eva B. Dykes Library Collection

Oakwood University is Adventism's sole HBCU, and thus has been both a training ground and headquarters for the black work. This site contains most of Oakwood's bulletins and yearbooks.

Genealogy Sites

Genealogy sites such as, heritagequest, and countless others contain invaluable primary source materials on people of yesterday such as birth, marriage, and death records; censuses; applications; passport information; obituaries, and other items essential to piecing together the past. Many libraries provide users free access to these genealogical sites through their webpages.