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19th Century

Williams, Daniel Hale (1856-1931)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Daniel Hale Williams III was a pioneering surgeon best known for performing in 1893 one of the world’s first successful open heart surgeries.  Williams was born on January 18, 1856, in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania to Sarah Price Williams and Daniel Hale Williams II.  Following the death of his father, Williams lived with family friends in Baltimore, Maryland, and with family in Illinois, from 1866 to 1878 where he was a shoemaker’s apprentice and barber until he decided to pursue his education.  In 1878, Williams’s interest in medicine began when he worked in the office of Henry Palmer, a Wisconsin surgeon.
Sources: 
http://www.biography.com/people/daniel-hale-williams-9532269?page=2; http://www.blackinventor.com/pages/danielwilliams.html; http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/chi-chicagodays-heartoperation-story,0,4001788.story; http://www.providentfoundation.org/history/index.html; http://www.providentfoundation.org/history/williams.html; Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates (eds.), Africana: Encyclopedia of The African and African American Experience (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Darlene Clark Hine (ed.), The African-American Odyssey (New York: Prentice Hall, 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Twilight, Alexander (1795-1857)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Reputed to be the first African American in the United States to graduate from college, Alexander Twilight was born on a farm in Bradford, Vermont to a white or fair-skinned mother, Mary Twilight, and a mixed-race father, Ichabod Twilight, who had served as a private in the American Revolution.  The young Alexander was forced to work as an indentured servant on a farm neighboring his parents’ farm from the ages of eight to 21. Nonetheless, he managed to graduate from Middlebury College in 1823, after which he taught school in Peru, New York, where he studied for the Congregational ministry and, in 1826, married Mercy Ladd Merrill.  Called successively to pastor congregations in Vergennes and Brownington, Vermont, Twilight also became the headmaster of the Orleans County Grammar School.  To meet growing enrollment needs, he designed, raised funds for, and built the first granite public building in Vermont, Athenian Hall, which contained classrooms and a dormitory.   
Sources: 
John Lovejoy “Alexander Twilight” in John J. Duffy, Samuel B. Hand, and Ralph H. Orth, eds.,  The Vermont Encyclopedia  (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York at Buffalo

Coffin, Alfred O. (1861- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Although he was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in a field of the biological sciences, Alfred Oscar Coffin ended his career as Professor of Romance Languages at Langston University in Oklahoma.  Born in Pontotoc, Mississippi on May 14, 1861, Coffin earned his bachelor’s degree at Fisk University and his master’s and Ph.D. in biology at Illinois Wesleyan University in 1889.  Beginning in 1887, Coffin taught for two years at Alcorn Agricultural & Mechanical College in Mississippi.  From 1889 to 1895 he was Professor of Mathematics and Romance Language at Wiley University in Marshall, Texas where he found time to write a treatise on the native plants there.  Back at Alcorn A&M from 1895 to 1898 he worked as the campus disbursement agent.  From 1898 to 1909 Coffin was a public school principal in San Antonio, Texas and in Kansas City, Missouri.  Starting in 1910 for several years he worked as an advance agent for Blind Boone Concert Company, promoting the blind ragtime musician.
Sources: 
Who’s Who of the Colored Race (Chicago: F. L. Mather, 1915); Harry H. Greene. Holders of Doctorates Among American Negroes (Boston: Meador Pub. Co., 1946); http://webfiles.uci.edu/mcbrown/display/coffin.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Foster, Andrew "Rube" (1879-1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Andrew Rube Foster was born in Calvert, Texas, on September 17, 1879.  The son of Andrew and Sarah Foster, Rube started a baseball tradition that would be followed by his brother Willie Bill Foster.  Rube quit school after the eighth grade, barnstorming with the Waco Yellow Jackets, an independent black team in 1897.  By 1902, Rube’s baseball abilities gave him an opportunity to play with the Chicago (Illinois) Union Giants.  After a short stint with Union Giants, Rube played for the Cuban X-Giants.  In 1903, Rube Foster was the top pitcher in black baseball, and was the pitcher of record as the Cuban X-Giants won the Black World Series.  Rube sometimes played with white semi-pro teams and exhibition games against white players. Rube established himself as the premier pitcher challenging major league pitchers such as Rube Waddell, Chief Bender, Mordecai Brown, and Cy Young.  Honus Wagner stated that Rube Foster was one of the greatest pitchers of all times and one of the smartest pitchers he had ever seen.

Sources: 
Robert Charles Cottrell, The Best Pitcher in Baseball: The Life of Rube Foster, Negro League Giant (New York: New York University Press, 1970).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Augusta State University

Bertonneau, E. Arnold (1834-1912)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
“Image Courtesy of Thomas F. Bertonneau”
Sources: 
Eric Foner (ed.), Freedom's Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996); James G. Hollandsworth, Jr, The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience During the Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998); and Charles Vincent, Black Legislators in Louisiana During Reconstruction (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Williams, Bert (1874-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Egbert Austin "Bert" Williams was born in New Providence, Nassau on November 12, 1874.  When he was eleven or twelve his family settled in Riverside, California, and it was not long before Williams became attracted to show business.  In 1893 Williams got his start in show business and one of his first jobs was with a minstrel group called Martin and Selig's Minstrels.  While in this group Williams met George Walker, a song-and-dance man with whom Williams soon formed an illustrious partnership called Williams and Walker.

Throughout his career Williams achieved many firsts.  In 1901 he became the first African American to become a best selling recording artist, and in 1902 he became an international star with his performance in the show In Dahomey, the first black musical to be performed on Broadway.  Also, in 1910 Williams became the first black to be regularly featured in a Broadway revue when he joined the Ziegfeld Follies, and he even came to claim top billing for the show.

Sources: 
"Bert Williams," Broadway the American Musical: Stars Over Broadway
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/broadway/stars/williams_b.html ; Eric Ledell Smith, Bert Williams: A Biography of the Pioneer Black Comedian (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland &Company, Inc., Publishers, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Washington, Booker T. (1856-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Booker T. Washington is one of the most controversial and dominant figures in African American history.  According to his autobiography Up From Slavery (1901), he did not know the exact year, date, and place of his birth or his father’s name. Yet, it is widely understood that he was born enslaved on April 5, 1856 in Hale's Ford, Virginia. His mother’s name was Jane and his father was a white man from a nearby plantation. At the age of 9, Washington was freed from slavery and moved to West Virginia.  He had always been known as simply “Booker” until he decided to add the name “Washington” after feeling the pressure to have two names when he started grammar school.

Sources: 
William L. Andrews, ed. Booker T. Washington: Up From Slavery (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996); Louis R. Harlan, The Booker T. Washington Papers: The Making of a Black Leader New, 1856-1901 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Langston, Charles Henry (1817-1892)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Charles Henry Langston
(Ohio Historical Society)

Charles Henry Langston, the grandfather of poet Langston Hughes, was born a free man on a Virginia plantation in 1817 to Captain Ralph Quarles and Lucy Jane Langston, Quarles’ mulatto slave. He had two brothers, John Mercer (who would become a Virginia Congressman in 1888) and Gideon. After the death of his father in 1834, Charles inherited a large part of his father’s estate, and he went to be educated at Oberlin College in 1842 and 1843.

Sources: 
Richard B. Sheridan, “Charles Henry Langston and the African American Struggle in Kansas,” Kansas History 22 (Winter 1999/2000); Eugene H. Berwanger, “Hardin and Langston: Western Black Spokesmen of the Reconstruction Era,” Journal of Negro History 64 (Spring 1979).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Reason, Charles Lewis (1818-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Charles L. Reason was born on July 21, 1818 in New York City. His parents, Michiel and Elizabeth Reason, were immigrants from Haiti who arrived in the United States shortly after the Haitian Revolution of 1793. His parents emphasized the importance of education, and very early on the young Reason displayed an aptitude for mathematics when he was a student at the New York African Free School.  Reason began his teaching career when he was 14 years old. He saved what he could of his teacher’s $25 per year salary to continue his own education with tutors. A political activist and abolitionist, Reason played a prominent role in the Negro Convention Movement in New York. In 1837 Reason joined Henry Highland Garnet, among others, in an effort to gain voting rights for African American men and he was later one of the co-authors of the Call for the New York Negro Convention of 1840.

Sources: 
John E. Fleming (with the assistance of Julius Hobson Jr., John McClendon and Herschelle Reed), The Lengthening Shadow of Slavery (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1974); Anthony R. Mayo, "Charles Lewis Reason," Negro History Bulletin 5 (June 1942):212-15;Scott W. Williams, “Charles L. Reason African American Mathematician,1818–1893,” http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/special/reason_charles_l.html;
John E. Fleming, “Home of McGraw Eagles: History” http://www.mcgrawschools.org/history.htm
Affiliation: 
Michigan State University

Grimké, Charlotte Forten (1837-1914)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charlotte Forten Grimké grew up in a rich intellectual and activist environment.  Born into a wealthy Black abolitionist family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Charlotte Louise Forten became famous in her own right as a writer and poet.  Her grandparents, James, Sr. and Charlotte Forten, hosted leading black and white abolitionists into their home on a regular basis.  James Forten was one of the wealthiest blacks in Philadelphia, having amassed a fortune in the sail making business. Her parents, Robert Bridges Forten and Mary Woods Forten, continued the family’s activist tradition as had her uncles and aunts, including Sarah, Harriet, and Margaretta Forten, who helped establish the bi-racial Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. 
Sources: 
Janice Sumler-Edmond, “Charlotte Forten Grimké,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. I (New York: Carlson, 1993): 505-507; Julie Winch, A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); and Brenda Stevenson, ed., The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimké (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Davis Bend, Mississippi (1865-1887)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History

Davis Bend, Mississippi was an all-black town near Vicksburg, sometimes referred to as Davis Bend colony. It was a 4,000-acre cooperative community made up of former enslaved African Americans seeking equality, justice, and race pride in a society they called their own. In 1865, this community was one of the first black towns to develop after the Civil War. The architect of Davis Bend was African American Benjamin Montgomery. Prior to 1865, when Davis Bend was simply referred to as the “Joseph Davis plantation,” an enslaved Montgomery functioned as its overseer and owned the plantation store. After the war, Davis sold the land that his plantations rested on to Montgomery for $300,000 in gold at a 6 percent interest rate.

The largest plantation at Davis Bend was Hurricane. In 1872, Benjamin Montgomery’s son, Isaiah, ran Hurricane as its property manager, informal counsel, and diplomat to white neighbors, agents, and suppliers from Vicksburg, Cincinnati (Ohio), New Orleans (Louisiana), and St. Louis (Missouri).

Sources: 
Leon Litwack and August Meier (eds.), Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991); and David H. Jackson, A Chief Lieutenant of the Tuskegee Machine: Charles Banks of Mississippi (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Bouchet, Edward Alexander (1852-1918)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Edward Alexander Bouchet was born on September 15, 1852 in New Haven, Connecticut to William Francis and Susan Cooley Bouchet. Edward attended the segregated primary school in New Haven and later finished his secondary education at Hopkins Grammar School in 1870. An outstanding student, Edward’s academic accomplishments included serving as the valedictorian of his high school class.

The Bouchet family was quite prominent in New Haven’s small African American community. In addition to holding the position of deacon in the church, William Francis Bouchet was also employed at Yale College as a janitor and Susan did the laundry of Yale students. Well aware of Edward’s talent and scholarly ability, William and Susan had hoped their son would one day join the ranks of the Yale College student body. The fulfillment of this aspiration would be no small feat given the fact that no African American had ever attended Yale.

Sources: 
Ronald E. Mickens, “Bouchet and Imes: First Black Physicists” in Ronald E. Mickens, ed., The African American Presence in Physics (Atlanta, 1999), pp. 20-24;Garry L. Reeder, “The History of Blacks at Yale University” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 26. (Winter, 1999-2000) pp. 125-126; “Yale Pays Tribute to Its First Black Graduate,” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 22. (Winter, 1998-1999), pp. 63-64.
Affiliation: 
Michigan State University

Fort Pillow Massacre (1864)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History

 

Illustration from Kurz & Allison
Image Courtesy of Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division

On April 12, 1864, some 3,000 rebels under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest overran Fort Pillow, a former Confederate stronghold situated on a bluff on the Tennessee bank of the Mississippi, some 40 miles north of Memphis. The garrison consisted of about 600 Union soldiers, roughly evenly divided between runaway slaves-turned-artillerists from nearby Tennessee communities and white Southern Unionist cavalry mostly from East Tennessee. Under a flag of truce which his men violated by creeping up on the fort, Forrest demanded the garrison’s surrender, threatening that if it refused he would not be responsible for the actions of his men. Believing Forrest was bluffing, Bradford refused, whereupon the Confederates swarmed over the parapet.

Sources: 
Andrew Ward, River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War (New York: Viking Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Grant, George Franklin (1847-1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Dr. George Franklin Grant was the first African American professor at Harvard. He was born in Oswego, New York to former slaves. When he was fifteen years old a local dentist, Dr. Albert Smith, hired him as an errand boy. He soon became a lab assistant, and Dr. Smith encouraged him to pursue a career in dentistry. In 1868 he and Robert Tanner Freeman, another son of former slaves, became the first blacks to enroll in Harvard Dental School. After receiving his degree in 1870, he became the first African American faculty member at Harvard, in the School of Mechanical Dentistry, where he served for 19 years.

While there he specialized in treating patients with congenital cleft palates. His first patient was a 14 year-old girl, and by 1889 he had treated 115 cases. He patented the oblate palate, a prosthetic device that allowed patients to speak more normally. He was a founding member and president of the Harvard Odontological  Society, and, in 1881, he was elected President of the Harvard Dental Association.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

White, George Henry (1852-1918)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

George H. White served as a member of the fifty-fifth and fifty-sixth United States Congresses (March 4, 1897-March 3, 1901) from North Carolina’s Second Congressional District during what historian Rayford Logan has termed the nadir in race relations for the post-Reconstruction South. Born in Rosindale, North Carolina on December 18, 1852, White graduated from Howard University in 1877, and was admitted to the bar in 1879.  White practiced law and served as the Principal of the State Normal School of North Carolina until he entered politics in 1881, at which time he served for a year in the North Carolina House of Representatives.  Four years later he served for a term in the state’s senate.  From 1886 to 1894, White worked for the second judicial district of North Carolina as solicitor and prosecuting attorney. 

Sources: 
Benjamin R. Justensen, George Henry White: An Even Chance In the Race of Life (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 2001); “White, George H.,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, http://bioguide.congress.gov/ ; “White, George H.,” Documenting the South, <http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/whitegh/whitegh.html>
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Johnson C. Smith University

Woodbey, George Washington (1854- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public
Domain

Born into slavery on a plantation in Tennessee, George Washington Woodbey was largely self-educated and as young man supported himself as a miner and factory worker before becoming an ordained minister in 1874 and pastoring churches in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. By the mid-1880s Woodbey, a riveting and eloquent public speaker, had adopted the cause of social reform in America.  He was Nebraska’s Prohibition Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor in 1890 and was the party’s candidate for Congress in 1894.  Woodbey later bolted the Prohibition Party to endorse William Jennings Bryan of the Populist People’s Party in Bryan’s failed 1896 presidential campaign. 

By the turn of the century Woodbey had become a committed socialist and allied himself with Eugene V. Debs’s Socialist Party.  So impressed with Woodbey’s ability to captivate and inform crowds on the street corners of Omaha, A.W. Ricker, chief editorial writer for the socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, as well as Ricker’s associates, were of the opinion that “Comrade Woodbey is the greatest of living negro in America.”

Sources: 
Philip S. Foner (Ed.). Black Socialist Preacher. San Francisco: Synthesis Publications, 1983; Robert H. Craig. Religion and Radical Politics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Woods, Granville T. (1856-1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Granville T. Woods was a prominent inventor and electrical engineer who developed over 50 significant patents over the course of his life.  Because of his significant electrical inventions he is known as the “Black Edison.”

Sources: 
Robert Hayden, Nine African American Inventors (New York: Presidio Twenty First Century Books, 1992); Portia P. James, The Real McCoy: African American Invention and Innovation 1619-1930 (Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution, 1989); David M. Foy, Great Discoveries and Inventions by African Americans (Edgewood, Maryland: APU Publishing Group,1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lowry, Henry Berry (c. 1846-1872)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

In 1853, the Lumbee Indians, a triracial people who are descendants of several southeastern Indian tribes, whites, and African Americans, named themselves after the Lumber River, which flows through their homeland in North Carolina.  According to the Lumbee historian Adolph Dial, they are also descended from the “lost” Roanoke colonists, who took up residence with American Indians farther inland.

Sources: 
Bruce E. Johansen and Donald A. Grinde, Jr., The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography (New York: Da Capo Press, 1997)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York, Buffalo

Bibb, Henry (1815-1854)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Henry Walton Bibb was the eldest of the seven male children of Mildred Jackson. Henry was told that his father, whom he never met, was a man named James Bibb. He grew up in bondage in the Deep South, and claims to have been owned by seven people including a Cherokee Indian. Bibb frequently attempted escape throughout his slavery years until he succeeded in emancipating himself in 1842 after the death of his owner. Once his freedom was assured, he assumed an active role in the abolitionist movement in Michigan and New England. In 1848 Henry Bibb married Mary Miles, a woman from Boston, Massachusetts whom he met at an anti-slavery convention in New York City, New York. Mr. Bibb is best known for his eloquent autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, which was published in New York in 1849.
Sources: 
Roger W. Hite, “Voice of a Fugitive: Henry Bibb and Ante-Bellum Black Separatism,” Journal of Black Studies, 4:3 (March 1974).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Garnet, Henry Highland (1815-1881)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born into slavery near New Markey, Maryland on December 23, 1815, Henry Highland Garnet escaped from bondage via the Underground Railroad with his parents, George and Henrietta Trusty in 1824. After residing briefly in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the family settled in New York City, New York where George Trusty changed the family name to Garnet. George Garnet found work as a shoemaker and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Garnets lived among other working class families in what would later be called the Lower East Side.
Sources: 
Alexander Crummell, “Eulogium on Henry Highland Garnet, D.D.,” in Africa and America (Springfield, Ma.: Willey and Company, 1891); Martin B. Pasternak, Rise Now and Fly to Arms: The Life of Henry Highland Garnet (New York: Garland Publishing, 1995); www.ancestry.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Turner, Henry McNeal (1834-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Stephen Ward Angell, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and African American Religion in the South (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992); Edwin S. Redkey, Black Exodus, Black Nationalist and Back-to-Africa Movements, 1890-1910 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969); The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, African American Desk Reference (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 1999); Kenneth Estall, ed., The African American Almanac 6th edition (Detroit: Gale Research, Inc. 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Tanner, Henry Ossawa (1859-1937)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

The first African American artist to gain international notoriety, Henry Ossawa Tanner, the son of a prominent cleric, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 21, 1859.  At age 13, inspired by an artist painting a landscape in a local park, he committed himself to a career in art despite his father’s initial discouragement.  Entering the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1879, he was influenced by the revered painter,Thomas Eakins, and developed his own introspective, empathetic realist style.  For quite some time Tanner had wanted to work in Europe where there was greater racial tolerance and where he could expand his artistic horizons, but his modest success as an artist in Philadelphia and as a photographer in Atlanta, Georgia, prevented him from earning enough money to cover his transportation costs to cross the Atlantic.   

Sources: 
Notable Black American Men Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc., 1999; American National Biography Vol. 21. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Internet Site: http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/tanner_henry_ossawa.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Jeffrey, Hester C. (1842-1934)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Hester Jeffrey, an organizer and activist who became involved in the women’s movement in the city of Rochester, New York, was born in Norfolk, Virginia around 1842. Jeffrey was the daughter of free parents Robert and Martha Whitehurst. In 1860 Jeffrey, along with her brother and sister, moved to Boston to live with their uncle Coffin Pitts. In 1865 she married Jerome Jeffrey, the son the Rev. Roswell D. Jeffrey, in Boston. Rev. Jeffrey was a political activist who stored the printing press of Frederick Douglass’s North Star in the basement of the Favor Street A.M.E. Church in Rochester, New York.  

Hester Jeffrey founded a number of local African American women’s clubs among the growing African American community in Rochester in the early 1890s. In 1897, Jeffrey was appointed to serve on the (Frederick) Douglass Monument Committee, to raise funds for a statue that was going to be erected in Rochester, New York, in the honor of Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, journalist, and champion of woman’s suffrage. After the commemoration of the Douglass Monument, Hester Jeffrey emerged as a leader in Rochester’s African American community. Jeffrey founded two women’s organizations, the Climbers and the Hester C. Jeffrey Club. The Jeffrey Club was an organization to raise funds for colored women to take classes at the Mechanics’ Institute (now called the Rochester Institute of Technology).

Sources: 
Ingrid Overacker, The African American Church Community in Rochester, New York, 1900-1940 (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 1998); Rosalyn Penn-Terborg, African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850- 1920 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: University of Indiana, 1998); Vicki Welch, Hester C. Whitehurst AKA Smith and Pitts, unpublished: March 14, 2006.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Afro-American Genealogical & Historical Society of Chicago

Montgomery, Isaiah T. (1847-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Isaiah Thornton Montgomery was an African American leader best known for founding the all-black town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi and for his public endorsement of black disenfranchisement.  Montgomery was born enslaved on May 21, 1847 to Benjamin Thornton and Mary Lewis Montgomery on the Hurricane Plantation at Davis Bend, an area along the Mississippi River near Vicksburg, Mississippi.  Hurricane Plantation was owned by Joseph E.
Sources: 
http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/55/isaiah-t-montgomery-1847-1924-part-I; Leon Litwack and August Meier (eds.), Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991); David H. Jackson, A Chief Lieutenant of the Tuskegee Machine: Charles Banks of Mississippi (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Forten, James (1766-1842)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image courtesy of The Historical Society of
Pennsylvania (HSP), Leon Gardiner collection
of American Negro Historical Society records
James Forten was born on September 2, 1766 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He was born a free black man. Over the course of his lifetime, he would make a significant impact upon the fortunes of the American capitalist system and the livelihood of his contemporaries.

His parents were Thomas and Sarah Forten. He was also the grandson of slaves.  His formative years were spent in Philadelphia and he attended Anthony Benezet’s Quaker school for colored children.  By the time he turned eight years old, he began working for Robert Bridges’s sail loft. This is where his father worked as well. The following year his father was the victim of an unfortunate boating accident and died. This horrible tragedy resulted in nine-year-old James having to take on additional work to support his family.
Sources: 

Julie Winch, A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); http://www.blackinventor.com/pages/jamesforten.html; http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASforten.htm.

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Matzeliger, Jan E. (1852-1887)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Rachel Kranz, The Biographical Dictionary of Black Americans (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1992), pp. 102-103; A Salute to Black Scientists & Inventors (Chicago: Empak Publishing Company), 1993, pp. 22-23.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Langston, John Mercer (1829-1897)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
William Cheek and Aimee Lee Cheek, John Mercer Langston and the Fight for Black Freedom, 1829-65 (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1989), and www.oberlin.edu.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Russwurm, John (1799-1851)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

John Russwurm was a man ahead of his time. Centuries before scholars began debating such issues as “hegemony” and “the social construction of race,” Russwurm understood how the powerful used media to create and perpetuate destructive stereotypes of the powerless. He set out to challenge this practice, via a brand new form of media: African American journalism.

Although he helped to change the terms of debate on race in America, Russwurm was not a native of America. Born in Jamaica on October 1, 1799, he moved to Quebec as a child and then to Maine, where he attended Bowdoin College and wrote term papers on Toussaint L‘Ouverture, fiery leader of the Haitian Revolution. In 1826 Russwurm became only the second African American in the U.S. to earn a college degree. His graduation speech focused on the Haitian revolution.

The next year he moved to New York, where he met Samuel Cornish, an African American Presbyterian minister and editor. On March 16, 1827, Cornish and Russwurm published the first issue of Freedom’s Journal. White publishers -- specifically Mordecai Noah of the New York Enquirer – had long denigrated and attacked free blacks. Freedom’s Journal took direct aim at them.

Sources: 
Michael Emery, Edwin Emery and Nancy Roberts, The Press and America, An Interpretive History of the Mass Media (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1988; The World Book Encyclopedia (1996); “Africans in America, Part 3” (PBS), Julius Scott on John Brown Russworm and the Haitian Revolution.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

King, John Thomas (1846-1926)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

John T. King was born in Girard (now Phenix City), Alabama in 1846. He was the son of covered bridge designer and builder Horace King.  John King carried on the family business by designing and building bridges, houses, and commercial buildings in Georgia and Alabama.  The King family did much to develop West Georgia and East Alabama and open up the area for commerce.  John King also served long tenures as a church leader, and trustee of Clark College in Atlanta.

King started his career at age fourteen as bridge keeper for the Dillingham Bridge in Columbus, Georgia.  He moved to LaGrange in 1872 with other family members.  As his father’s health began to fail, John became head of King Brothers Bridge Company, a thriving business in western Georgia and eastern Alabama in the late nineteenth century.  The company not only built bridges, but also designed and built in the town of LaGrange the Lloyd Building on East Court Square, a sash and blind factory operated by the Kings, the Hotel Andrews, numerous houses, and the LaGrange Cotton Oil Factory which was the town’s first “modern” textile mill to be built following the Civil War.  Covered bridges that John King designed and constructed included one in LaGrange, West Point, Columbus, and eastern Alabama.

Sources: 
Dreck Spurlock Wilson, ed., African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, 1865-1945 (New York: Routledge, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ruffin, Josephine St. Pierre (1842 - 1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin was born into one of Boston’s leading families on August 31, 1842.  St. Pierre’s mother was an English-born white woman and her father was from the island of Martinique, and founder of the Boston Zion Church.  The St. Pierre’s sent their young daughter to Salem where the schools were integrated due mainly to the work of John Lenox Remond. 

St. Pierre married George Lewis Ruffin at the age of 15.  Ruffin was the first African American to graduate from Harvard Law School and later served on the Boston City Council, the state legislature, and became the first black municipal judge in Boston. After marriage, Mrs. Ruffin graduated from a Boston finishing school and completed two years of private tutoring in New York.  During the civil war, the Ruffins were involved in various charity works, civil rights causes, and Mrs. Ruffin, especially, was involved in the women’s suffrage movement where she worked with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Sources: 
Susan L. Albertine, ed., A Living of Words: American Women in Print Culture (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995); Roger Streitmatter, Raising Her Voice: African American Women Journalists Who Changed History (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1994); www.in.gov/icw/archives/ruffin.html
www.mfh.org/specialprojects/shwlp/site/honorees/ruffin.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Antioch McGregor University

Foote, Julia (1823-1900)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Born in Schenectady, New York, to former slaves, Julia was converted at age fifteen. Several years later, she married George Foote, a sailor, moved to Boston, and joined an African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church, where she began to testify about her experiences of conversion and sanctification. Her husband and pastor disapproved of her teaching on sanctification, but she persisted, even though she was expelled from her home congregation in 1844.
Sources: 
Julia Foote, A Brand Plucked from the Fire (1878); Priscilla Pope-Levison, Turn the Pulpit Loose: Two Centuries of American Women Evangelists (2004).
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Haynes, Lemuel (1753-1833)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

Lemuel Haynes was born on July 18, 1753  in the home of his mother’s employer, John Haynes of Hartford, Connecticut.  His father, an enslaved African, and his mother, a Scottish immigrant servant, abandoned him at birth.  Fired after giving birth to him, his mother refused to speak to him when their paths later crossed.  John Haynes indentured the unwanted infant at the age of five months to the family of Deacon David Rose in the farming community of Granville, Massachusetts, where Lemuel remained until the age of twenty-one.  As a child he absorbed strong Calvinist theology and occasionally was permitted to attend local schools. 

In 1783, after fighting for several years in the American Revolution, Haynes married a white schoolteacher who proposed to him and over the next decades raised a family of ten children with her.  He accepted a pulpit in a predominantly white Congregational Church in the west parish of Rutland, Vermont in 1788.  Although Haynes felt that the color of his skin prevented his full acceptance in the white community, he served the Rutland congregation for thirty years.  His power to inspire revivals helped the church to grow enormously.  In 1818, however, he was dismissed from his Rutland parish due to his Federalist politics and criticism of Republicans’ policies in the War of 1812.  Haynes went on to serve for three years at a congregation in Manchester, Vermont.  Throughout his life he combined evangelical Calvinist fervor with staunch opposition to slavery and oppression.  One of the first African Americans to be ordained and to publish, Haynes authored many eloquent sermons advocating interracial benevolence, liberty, natural rights, and justice.

Sources: 
Richard D. Brown, “ ‘Not Only Extreme Poverty, but the Worst Kind of Orphanage’: Lemuel Haynes and the Boundaries of Racial Tolerance on the Yankee Frontier, 1770-1820.”  New England Quarterly 61.4 (Dec. 1988): 502-18;  Timothy Mather Cooley, Sketches of the Life and Character of the Rev. Lemuel Haynes, A.M. (New York, 1837; Rptd. New York, 1969);  John Saillant, Black Puritan, Black Republican: The Life and Thought of Lemuel Haynes, 1753-1833 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York at Buffalo

Latimer, Lewis H. (1848-1928)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Lewis H. Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts on September 4, 1848.  His parents were former slaves who escaped bondage and settled in Boston.  Abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass secured the necessary funds to obtain their freedom.  After a stint in the Union Navy during the Civil War, Latimer worked as an office assistant in the patent law firm of Crosby and Gould.  It was there that he taught himself drafting.  He quickly began to experiment with ideas for inventions. 

In 1874 Latimer received his first patent for improving the toilet paper on passenger railroad cars.  In all, he was given eight patents.  He is popularly known as the inventor who prepared drawings for Alexander Graham Bell’s patent application for the telephone.  He eventually worked on electric lights, became superintendent of the incandescent lamp department of the United States Electric Lighting Company, and supervised the installation of light for buildings in the United States and Canada. 

In 1890 Lewis Latimer published a book entitled Incandescent Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System.  He also served as chief draftsman for General Electric/Westinghouse Board of Patent Control when it was established in 1896.  Some of the individuals who worked with Edison formed the Edison Pioneers in 1918 to preserve memories of their early days together and to honor Edison’s genius and achievements.  Latimer was a founding member of this group and he was the only African American among them.  He died in Flushing, New York, on December 11, 1928.

Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, William C. Hine, and Stanley Harrold, The African-American Odyssey, Third Edition (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2005), p. 408; Rayyon Fouche, Black Inventors in the Age of Segregation: Granville T. Woods, Lewis H. Latimer, and Shelby J. Davidson (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Cary, Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1992); Jane Rhodes, Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Dickson, Moses (1824-1901)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Moses Dickson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 5, 1824. At 16, he began a three year tour of the South which persuaded him to work for the abolition of slavery. On August 12, 1846, Dickson and twelve other men gathered in St. Louis to devise a plan to end slavery in the United States. They formed a secret organization known as the Knights of Liberty which planned to initiate a national insurrection against slavery.

Dickson married widow Mary Elisabeth Butcher Peters at Galena, Illinois on October 5, 1848. They had one daughter, Mamie Augusta, and a year later the family located permanently in St. Louis.

By 1856, according to Dickson and his followers, 47,240 members of the Knights of Liberty throughout the nation stood ready to fight for freedom. In August of that year Dickson created a smaller secret organization, the Order of Twelve, in Galena, Illinois. During the war, the Knights disbanded and many of their members joined the Union Army.

Sources: 
Reverend Moses Dickson, Manual of the International Order of Twelve of Knights and Daughters of Tabor 3d. ed. (St. Louis: A. R. Fleming Printing, 1900); William A. Muraskin, Middle-Class Blacks in a White Society: Prince Hall Freemasonry in America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1975).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
National Park Service

Mound Bayou (1887- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Mound Bayou Residents in Front of Store, Late 1930s
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Mound Bayou was an all black town in the Yazoo Delta in Northwest Mississippi. It was founded during the spring of 1887 by twelve pioneers from Davis Bend, a fledgling black colony impacted by falling agricultural prices, natural disasters, and hostile race relations. This migration movement was led by Isaiah Montgomery, former patriarch of Davis Bend. Purchased from the Louisville, New Orleans, and Texas Railroad (L, NO & T), Mound Bayou bordered a new rail line between Memphis, Tennessee and Vicksburg. From 1890 to 1915, Mound Bayou was a land of promise for African Americans. Encapsulated in this “promise” were self-help, race pride, economic opportunity, and social justice, in a self-segregated community designed for blacks to have minimum contact with whites until integration was a viable option to black freedom.

Sources: 
Leon Litwack and August Meier (eds.), Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991); and David H. Jackson, A Chief Lieutenant of the Tuskegee Machine: Charles Banks of Mississippi (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Cuffe, Paul, Jr. (?-?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Paul Cuffe was born into a Pequot family that had intermarried with freed or escaped slaves in New England. His father, Paul Cuffe, Sr., became known for his attempt to begin an African American colony in Sierra Leone.  Paul Cuffe, Jr., made his living as a whaling harpooner and probably came to know Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick and other works.  It is probable that Melville modeled his character Queequeg, the aboriginal harpooner, after the younger Cuffe.
Sources: 
Bruce E. Johansen and Donald A. Grinde, Jr., The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography (New York: Da Capo Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York, Buffalo

Dunbar, Paul Laurence (1872-1906)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris, eds., The Oxford Companion to African American Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Braxton, Joanne M, ed. The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1993); http://www.dunbarsite.org/biopld.asp.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Ransier, Alonzo J. (1834-1882)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress; Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Tresse, Black Americans in Congress 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Smith, Amanda Berry (1837-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Amanda Smith, An Autobiography: The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith, The Colored Evangelist (1921); Adrienne M. Israel, Amanda Berry Smith: From Washerwoman to Evangelist (1998); Priscilla Pope-Levison, Turn the Pulpit Loose: Two Centuries of American Women Evangelists (2004.)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian, Seattle Pacific University

Cain, Richard H. (1825-1887)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress; Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Tresse, Black Americans in Congress 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Greener, Richard T. (1844-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Richard Theodore Greener, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania became the first African American to graduate from Harvard College.  He later served the United States in diplomatic posts in India and Russia.  Greener lived in Boston, Massachusetts and Cambridge as a child and entered Harvard in 1865 and received an A.B. degree from the institution in 1870.  After graduation he was appointed principal of the Male Department at Philadelphia’s Institute for Colored Youth which later became Cheyney University.  Three years later Greener became professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy at the University of South Carolina where he also served as librarian and taught Greek, Mathematics and Constitutional Law.  While there Greener entered the Law School and received an LL.B degree in 1876.

Sources: 
Allison Blakely, Russia and the Negro: Blacks in Russian History and Thought (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1986); “Figures in Black History: Richard Greener: Harvard’s First African American Graduate” http://dede.essortment.com/richardgreener_pws.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
U.S. Department of State

Freeman, Robert Tanner (1846-1873)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Robert Tanner Freeman is the first professionally trained black dentist in the United States.  A child of slaves, he eventually entered Harvard University and graduated only four years after the end of the Civil War on May 18, 1869.

Robert Tanner Freeman was born in Washington, D.C. in 1846.   His formerly enslaved parents took the surname “Freeman” as did countless other people after gaining their freedom from bondage.  As a child, Robert befriended Henry Bliss Noble, a local white dentist in the District of Columbia.   Freeman began working as an apprentice to Dr. Noble and continued until he was a young adult. Dr. Noble encouraged young Robert to apply to dental colleges. 

Two medical schools rejected Freeman’s application but with the encouragement of Dr. Nobel who had contacts at Harvard Medical School, Freeman applied there.  Initially rejected, he was accepted into Harvard Medical School in 1867 at the age of 21, after a petition by Dean Nathan Cooley Keep to end the school’s historical exclusion of African Americans and other racial minorities.

Sources: 
C.O. Dummett, “Courage and Grace in Dentistry: the Noble, Freeman Connection,” Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society, 44:3 (January 1995) , 23-26; Donald Altschiller, "National Dental Association," in Nina Mjagkij, ed., Organizing Black America: an encyclopedia of African American Organizations (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Stanley, Sara G. (1837-1918)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Born in 1837 in North Carolina, Sara G. Stanley was a member of a free, educated and economically secure family.  She attended Oberlin College and later moved to Delaware after her family immigrated there.  Following the tradition of other free black women Sara joined the local ladies antislavery society.  As a representative of her organization she delivered a strong and forceful address at the 1856 meeting of the all male Convention of Disfranchised citizens of Ohio.

Sources: 
Ellen NicKenzie Lawson and Marlene D. Merrill, “The Three Sarahs: Documents of Antebellum Black College Women” in Edwin Mellen Press Studies in Women and Religion, Vol. 13. (New York, 1984); Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women In America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. 11 (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Publishing, 1993), p. 1104.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Vermont

Remond, Sarah Parker (1824-1894)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born in 1824 Sarah Parker Remond entered the world as a part of an exceptional family. The ninth child of two free born and economically secure black parents, her life was unusual among African Americans. It was unimaginable in the minds of most white Americans. Before her death Sarah carried her family’s legacy well beyond the shores of her native land.  With financial security rooted primarily in food catering and hair salons, the men and women of the Remond clan actively supported antislavery and equal rights for all.  After honing her skills lecturing against slavery in the Northeast and Canada Sarah expanded her reach across the ocean.

Sources: 
Willi Coleman, "'...Like Hot Lead to Pour on the Americans’: Sarah Parker Remond and the International Fight Against Slavery." in Stewart James & Kish Sklar, Sisterhood and Slavery: International Antislavery and Women's Rights (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006)and Dorothy Burnett Porter, The Remonds of Salem Massachusetts: A Nineteenth Century Family Revisited.  (Boston: American Antiquarian Society, 1985) 261.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Vermont

Smith, Stephen (1795-1873)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Stephen Smith was born into slavery in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. At 21 he purchased his freedom for $50 and soon afterwards began to ally with the abolitionist cause that he would support through most of his adult life.   In 1830 Smith became the chairman of the African American abolitionist organization in Columbia, Pennsylvania while developing a successful lumber business.  The Columbia Spy reported that in 1835 his success “…excited the envy or hatred of those not so prosperous and of the ruling race.”  In that year unknown persons vandalized his office and destroyed his papers, records and books.  Shortly after this incident, Smith moved to Philadelphia where he again entered the lumber business and after a few years regained his prosperity.

Sources: 
S. Webb, History of Pennsylvania Hall Which Was Destroyed by a Mob, on the 17th of May, 1838 (Philadelphia: Merrihew and Gunn, Printers, 1838).  Ira V. Brown, “Racism and Sexism: The Case of Pennsylvania Hall,” Phylon, 37:2 (2nd Qtr., 1976), 126-136; The Columbia Spy, Sept. 9, 1830, Dec. 12, 1868 and Jan. 29, 1870.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Santa Barbara

Stewart, T. McCants (1853-1923)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Teacher, author, clergyman, and civil rights leader, Thomas McCants Stewart was born in Charleston on December 28, 1853,  to George Gilchrist and Anna Morris Stewart.  Young Stewart attended the Avery Normal Institute before enrolling in Howard University in 1869. Although only fifteen when he arrived on Howard’s campus, Stewart, nonetheless, distinguished himself as a student and contributed occasional articles to the Washington New National Era, an African American newspaper.

Yet Stewart grew increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of instruction at Howard and became one of the first black students to enroll in the University of South Carolina at Columbia in 1874. In December 1875, Stewart graduated with Bachelor of Arts and L.L.B. degrees.

After graduation, Stewart married Charlotte Pearl Harris and taught mathematics at the State Agricultural and Mechanical College in Orangeburg between 1877 and 1878. He also he joined the law firm of South Carolina Congressman Robert Brown Elliott. In 1877 Stewart became an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and three years later was appointed pastor of the Bethel AME Church in New York in 1880.

Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998); Charles E. Wynes, T. McCants Stewart: Peripatetic Black South Carolinian,@ South Carolina Historical Magazine 80 (October, 1979): 311-317.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University

Fortune, T. Thomas (1856-1928)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
T. Thomas Fortune—African American journalist, editor, and writer—was born into slavery on October 3, 1856 to Sarah Jane and Emanuel Fortune.  Raised in Marianna, Florida, he as a child witnessed the politically-motivated violence of the Florida Ku Klux Klan.  Despite minimal formal education, Fortune worked in print shops during his childhood.  Moving north in 1874, he worked as a customs inspector in Delaware’s eastern district before briefly enrolling in Howard University in 1876.  Deciding he would become a journalist, Fortune left Howard less than a year after he arrived.
Sources: 
Emma Lou Thornbrough, T. Thomas Fortune: Militant Journalist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972); John Hope Franklin and August Meier (eds.), Black Leaders in the Twentieth Century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982); Walter David Greason, Suburban Erasure: How the Suburbs Ended the Civil Rights Movement (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Monmouth University

Fisk Jubilee Singers

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

In 1866 the Fisk Free Colored School was established in Nashville, Tennessee by the American Missionary Association. Housed in abandoned Union hospital barracks, Fisk set out to educate former slaves with the support of donations from former abolitionists. As those donations declined over the next five years, Fisk fell on hard times.

To save the institution, Fisk’s treasurer, George Leonard White, decided to gamble on the extraordinary voices of the young black singers who had begun to share with him the songs of their ancestors. Over the objections of his colleagues and sponsors, White and his assistant, a frail young African American pianist named Ella Sheppard, led a choir of nine young former slaves (now called the Fisk Jubilee Singers) up from Nashville to perform for congregations in the North along the route of the Underground Railway.

The Jubilees, as they were eventually called, struggled through a schizophrenic world of liberal ministers and adoring audiences, but also poor receipts, and segregated hotels, restaurants and trains. They made their way to New York, where they chose for their debut Steal Away, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and  Deep River, the secret hymns their ancestors sang in fields and cabins and brush arbor churches, the spirituals they were about to introduce into the universal canon of Christian worship,.

Sources: 
Andrew Ward, Dark Midnight When I Rise: The story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers who introduced the world to the music of black America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Nell, William C. (1816-1874)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

William C. Nell was an African American civic activist, abolitionist, and historian. Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Nell was the son of William Guion Nell, a prominent tailor and black activist. William C. Nell was introduced to racial inequality and black activism from birth. In the 1830s, he became politically active as a member of the Juvenile Garrison Independent Society where he wrote plays and hosted political debates while being mentored by William Lloyd Garrison.  Nell was a printer’s apprentice for Garrison’s newspaper, the Liberator. Nell came of age in the 1840s, as a leader in the campaign to desegregate the Boston railroad (1843) and Boston performance halls (1853). He was also a founding member of the New England Freedom Association in 1842, a black Boston organization that assisted fugitive slaves in their efforts to gain freedom.

Sources: 
“William Cooper Nell (1816 - 1874),” in Boston African-American National Historic Site, National Park Service, (2002); William C. Nell, “The Triumph of Equal School Rights in Boston,” in Philip S. Foner and Robert James Branham (eds.), Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900 (Tuscaloosa: Univ. of Alabama Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Houston, Texas (1868- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, the first African American Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, was organized in January 1866 by former slaves.  These individuals were assisted by white missionaries from the First Baptist Church and the German Baptist Church.  Antioch’s members worshiped at the two churches until they decided to hold services on Buffalo Bayou in what was called “Brush Arbor.”  Shortly thereafter, the congregation moved to “Baptist Hill,” located at Rusk and Bagby streets.  In 1868, John Henry (Jack) Yates, one of Antioch’s members, was ordained as a minister and became the church’s first pastor.  Responding to the growth of the membership in 1875, Yates led his congregation in constructing a new edifice.  A red brick church was designed by African American Richard Allen, a former member of the Texas Legislature, and became the first house of worship owned by African Americans in Houston.     
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Matthews, William Dominick (ca. 1833-ca. 1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

 

William Matthews first comes into historical view at the outbreak of the Civil War. A black freeman from birth and a “prominent citizen” of Leavenworth, Kansas, he had arrived in Leavenworth in 1856 and established a successful boarding house.  Shortly after the War began he was appointed Superintendent of Contrabands by the Kansas Emancipation League and charged with helping escaped slaves who were coming to Kansas in large numbers. 

After receiving a specific promise from Senator James H. Lane of an officer’s commission, Matthews raised a company of 80 blacks, mostly escaped slaves. After he served several months as a captain, in early 1863 the War Department rejected Matthews’ commission. The War Department was unwilling to have black officers commanding combat troops (even though over 180,000 African Americans were to serve in the U.S. military).  Immediately, twenty-one regimental officers --all white-- endorsed a memo to Senator Lane in support of Captain Matthews. Ultimately, Matthews received a commission as a lieutenant in the Independent Kansas Colored Battery and saw combat along the Missouri River, at Reeder Farm near Sherwood, Missouri, and Cabin Creek and Honey Springs in Indian Territory. The regiment also performed garrison, engineer and escort duty. Little is known of Matthews’ life after the Civil War.

 

 

Sources: 
Maj. Michael E. Carter, USAF. "First Kansas Colored Volunteers: Contributions of Black Union Soldiers in the Trans-Mississippi West." M.A. Thesis, Webster University, 2000; Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the Civil War (Boston: Little, Brown, 1953).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brown, Charlotte L. ( ? -- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Charlotte L. Brown was the daughter of James E. and Charlotte Brown and sister to Margaret Ann.  Her mother, for whom she was named, was a free, black seamstress who purchased her husband James’ freedom before they moved to San Francisco, California during the 1840s. Charlotte L. Brown was the plaintiff in one of the most important early California civil rights campaigns.  On April 17, 1863, Brown was forcibly removed from a horse-drawn streetcar in San Francisco.
Sources: 
Charlotte L. Brown et al case (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1866). Delilah L. Beasley, The Negro Trail Blazers of California (Los Angeles: Times Mirror Publishing and Binding House, 1919), p. 65.  Marc Primus, ed. Monographs of Blacks in the West: Number 1, Manuscript Series (San Francisco: San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society, Inc., 1976), pp. 120-21
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Denver's Five Points

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Denver’s Five Points, ca. 1885
Photo Courtesy of the Denver Public Library,
Western History Collection, William Henry Jackson
Denver, Colorado’s Five Points community originated in the 1880s as an upper middle-class neighborhood for professional and business men.  The city built one of its first cable streetcar lines into the area and numerous neighborhood businesses emerged along its tracks. White residents initially occupied the area, but a few prosperous African American families began moving in around the turn of the century.

A major influx of black residents came between 1911 and 1929 when housing developments sprang up elsewhere in the city.  These new homes with their modern conveniences such as electrical wiring, plumbing, and garages, attracted many away from older neighborhoods. About the same time, the city extended Broadway, a major north-south artery, through older black neighborhoods.  These two factors provided both the impetus and the opportunity for a population shift.  Five Points soon became the focal point of activities in a community of nearly 6,000 African American residents.
Sources: 
Moya Hansen, “Pebbles on the Shore: Economic Opportunity in Five Points, 1920–1950.” Colorado History, Summer 2001; Rebels Remembered, Video production by Alweis Film and Video, Denver, Colorado
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Colorado Historical Society

Rose, Edward (c. 1780- c. 1833)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"

Edward Rose, also known by the names Five Scalps, Nez Coupe and “Cut Nose,” was the son of a white trader father and a Cherokee and African American mother.  Little else is known about his early life including where he was born. He may have spent some years working on the Mississippi River between southern Illinois and New Orleans, Louisiana

Sources: 
Bruce E. Johansen and Donald A. Grinde, Jr., The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997); Daniel F. Littlefield,   Cherokee Freedmen  (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1978); Carl Waldman and Alan Wexler, "Rose, Edward," Encyclopedia of Exploration, Vol 1 (New York: Facts on File, Inc, 2004; LeRoy R. Hafen, ed., The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol. IX (Glendale, California: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1966).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York at Buffalo

McCabe, Edward P. (1850-1920)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

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Edward P. McCabe was an African American politician and businessman most notable for his promotion of black settlement in Oklahoma and Kansas. Born in 1850 in Troy, New York, McCabe would attend school until his father’s death when he left school to support his family as a clerk on Wall Street. In 1872, he earned a job as a clerk in Chicago. Two years later, McCabe left Chicago for Kansas and arrived in the growing black community of Nicodemus in 1878.

In Nicodemus, McCabe established himself as an attorney and land agent. When Graham County was established in 1880, McCabe was appointed temporary clerk and officially elected as county clerk the next year. In 1882, he successfully stood as the Republican candidate for state auditor, a victory which made him the most important black office holder outside of the south. However, as Nicodemus’s fortunes reversed and the town began to hemorrhage residents, McCabe left first for Washington and then for Oklahoma.

Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West 1528-1990 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1998); William Loren Katz, Black People Who Made the Old West (Trenton: Africa World Press, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montana State University

Schomburg, Arturo Alfonso (1874-1938)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, writer, activist, collector, and important figure of the Harlem Renaissance was born in Saturce, Puerto Rico. His mother, a black woman, was originally from St. Croix, Danish Virgin Islands, and his father was a Puerto Rican of German ancestry. Schomburg migrated to New York City in 1891. Very active in the liberation movements of Puerto Rico and Cuba, he founded Las dos Antillas, a cultural and political group that worked for the islands’ independence. After the collapse of the Cuban revolutionary struggle, and the cession of Puerto-Rico to the U.S., Schomburg, disillusioned, turned his attention to the African American community. In 1911, as its Master, he renamed El Sol de Cuba #38, a lodge of Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants, as Prince Hall Lodge in honor of the first black freemason in the country. The same year, he also founded the Negro Society for Historical Research. In 1922 he was elected president of the American Negro Academy.

Sources: 
Jesse, Hoffnung-Garskof, “The Migrations of Arturo Schomburg: On Being Antillano, Negro, and Puerto Rican in New York, 1891-1938,” Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 21, no 1 (November 2001): 3-49; Elinor Des Verney Sinnette, Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, Black Bibliophile and Collector: A Biography (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Scott, Dred (1795-1858)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Dred Scott, was an enslaved person noted mainly for the unsuccessful lawsuit brought to free him from bondage. The decision rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857 in the Dred Scott case, said that no blacks slave or free were U.S. citizens and allowed slavery in all U.S. territories.  The decision helped propel the United States toward the Civil War.

Sources: 
Paul Finkleman, Dred Scott v. Sanford: A Brief History with Documents (New York: Bedford/St.Martin's, 1997); Thomas & Gale Online (http://www.gale.com/policy.htm#terms )
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Ray, Emma (1859-1930)

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People
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African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
For nearly thirty years, Emma Ray, who was born into slavery and raised in poverty in Missouri, ministered to the poor and homeless in Seattle slums along with her husband, L.P. They came to Seattle following the 1889 fire in order for L.P. to find work as a stonemason. Shortly after, they were converted in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Emma helped to found the Frances Harper Colored Unit of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union with fifteen women from the AME Church, and she served as its president. With her WCTU Unit, Emma visited the jail, holding religious services on Sunday afternoons. On Wednesday afternoons, she and “Mother” Ryther, who ran an orphanage in Seattle, visited prostitutes and held services in the brothels. Between 1900 and 1902, Emma and L.P. ran a mission in Kansas City, Missouri, for children living in poverty, providing clothes, meals, a warm place to gather in the winter, trips to the park in the summer, and weekly Sunday School.

The Rays eventually joined The Free Methodist Church and were licensed as Conference Evangelists. Under the auspices of the Free Methodists, they preached revival meetings in churches throughout the state of Washington. Emma’s autobiography, Twice Sold, Twice Ransomed, was published by the Free Methodist Publishing House in 1926.
Sources: 
Emma Ray, Twice Sold, Twice Ransomed (Seattle: Free Methodist Publishing House, 1926).
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Jordan, George (1849?-1904)

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People
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African American History in the West
George Jordan, buffalo soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, hailed from rural Williamson County in central Tennessee.  Enlisting in the 38th Infantry Regiment on 25 December 1866, the short and illiterate Jordan proved a good soldier.  In January 1870, he transferred to the 9th Cavalry’s K Troop, his home for the next twenty-six years.  Earning the trust of his troop commander, Captain Charles Parker, Jordan was promoted to corporal in 1874; by 1879, he wore the chevrons of a sergeant.  It was during these years that Jordan learned how to read and write, an accomplishment that certainly facilitated his advancement in the Army.

On 14 May 1880, following a difficult forced march at night, a twenty-five man detachment under Jordan successfully repulsed a determined attack on old Fort Tularosa, New Mexico, by more numerous Apaches.  The next year on 12 August, still campaigning against the Apaches, Jordan’s actions contributed to the survival of a detachment under Captain Parker when they were ambushed in Carrizo Canyon, New Mexico.  Although neither engagement received much attention initially, in 1890 Jordan was awarded a Medal of Honor for Tularosa and a Certificate of Merit for Carrizo Canyon.

By the time of his retirement in 1896 at Fort Robinson, Jordan had served ten years as first sergeant of a veteran troop renowned for its performance against the Apache and Sioux.  Jordan joined other buffalo soldier veterans in nearby Crawford, Nebraska, and became a successful land owner, although his efforts to vote bore little fruit.
Sources: 
Charles L. Kenner, Buffalo Soldiers and Officers of the Ninth Cavalry, 1867-1898: Black and White TogetherBlack Valor: Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898 (Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources Incorporated, 1997); Frank Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldiers II: New and Revised Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2004).
(Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Riley, George Putnam (1833--1905)

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People
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African American History in the West

 

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George Putnam Riley, a native of Boston, participated in both the California and Canadian Northwest Territory Gold Rushes. In 1869, Riley along with 14 other Portland, Oregon residents--11 African American men, two African American women, and one white man--formed the Workingmen’s Joint Stock Association (WJSA). The members pooled funds to purchase real estate that was divided proportionately. George P. Riley, WJSA president, was dispatched to Washington Territory to search for property. In August, the Association purchased the eastern half of the 20-acre Hanford Donation Claim in Seattle, Washington for $2,000 [in] gold coin. The tract was legally given the name, “Riley’s Addition to South Seattle.” The original purchase, in the present-day Beacon Hill neighborhood, presently embraces the four blocks bordered by South Forest and South Lander, between 19th and 21st Avenues South.

The origins of Tacoma, Washington’s African American population can also be traced to the arrival of George P. Riley in 1869. Riley and his associates purchased 67 acres of land in Tacoma, legally called the Alliance Addition but pejoratively labeled the “Nigger Tract.” Interestingly, none of the WJSA members, except Riley, ever actually set foot in Tacoma. However, the Alliance Addition would become the spatial basis for Tacoma’s African American community--the Hilltop neighborhood as it is presently known.

Sources: 
Tacoma Daily Ledger, June 22, 1889, October 2, 1905. Laurie McKay, “The Nigger Tract” 1869-1905: George Putnam Riley and the Alliance Addition of Tacoma” Unpublished Paper, Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference, April 2001. pp.1, 6. Esther Hall Mumford, Seattle’s Black Victorians, 1852-1901 (Seattle: Ananse Press, 1980), 105-107.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Washington, George (1817-1905)

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People
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African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Washington was a prominent pioneer in the state named, like he was, for America's first president.  He founded Centralia in southwest Washington and was a leading citizen and benefactor of the town.  Washington's father was a slave, his mother of English descent.  When his father was sold soon after his birth in Virginia, his mother left him with a white couple named Anna and James Cochrane (or Cochran), who raised him in Ohio and Missouri.  At the age of 33, Washington joined a wagon train and headed west with the Cochranes, seeking to escape discriminatory laws.

In 1852 he staked a claim on the Chehalis River in what was then Oregon Territory. Because Oregon law prohibited settlement by African Americans, Washington had the Cochranes file the claim. After Washington Territory was created, they deeded the property to him.

When he was in his fifties, Washington married widow Mary Jane Cooness (or Cornie).  In January 1875, the Washingtons platted a town, which they called Centerville, on their property.  The name was changed to Centralia in 1883.  The Washingtons provided land for a Baptist church, cemetery, and public square (now George Washington Park).
Sources: 
HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "George and Mary Jane Washington found the town of Centerville (now Centralia) on January 8, 1875" (by Kit Oldham), http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=5276   "History of Centralia," Centralia, Washington website, http://www.centralia.com/PageDetails.asp?ID=25&Title=Historic%20Centralia#founder
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Staff Historian, HistoryLink.org

Ruffin, George Lewis (1834-1886)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

George Lewis Ruffin

By Melvin Robbins (1918-99)

Courtesy of Historical & Special Collections,
Harvard Law Library

George Lewis Ruffin was born December 16, 1834 in Richmond, Virginia, the son of free blacks.  He was educated in Boston and soon became a force in the city’s civic leadership.  After marrying Josephine St. Pierre, Mr. Ruffin supported his family by working as a barber.  In his spare time, Ruffin read law books and wrote reviews for a weekly publication.  Eventually Ruffin was admitted to Harvard Law School where in 1869 he became the first African American to graduate.  Later that year Ruffin was admitted to the Suffolk County Bar Association.

In 1864 Ruffin served as a delegate to the National Negro Convention in Syracuse, NY where he championed black suffrage and urged the organization to support the re-election of President Lincoln.  From 1876 to 1877 Ruffin served on the Boston Common Council (city council).  In 1883 he was appointed a judge on the Charlestown, Massachusetts Municipal Court.  Ruffin was the first African American to serve in both posts. 

Sources: 
www.masshist.org ; Amistad Research Center at Tulane University.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Antioch McGregor University

Jeffrey, George S. (1830-1906)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

Although he never held public office, George S. Jeffrey barber, orator, and post-reconstruction civil rights leader, emerged as one of the most important African American political figures in late 19th Century Connecticut.  Jeffrey was born in Middletown, Connecticut in 1830, to free parents George W. and Mary Ann (Campbell) Jeffrey. By 1851, Jeffrey settled in Meriden, Connecticut and became a successful barber. Nine years later he married Martha Agnes Williams who by the late 1870s established a successful hairdressing emporium.

Sources: 
Colleen Cyr, George Jeffrey and the Insurance Bill of 1887 (October 2003); Meriden Public Library, vertical file collection; Eric A. Smith, Blacks in Early Connecticut, Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society Inc., National Conference, Washington, D.C. (October 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society, Inc.

Barnett, Ida Wells (1862-1931)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Linda O. McMurry, To Keep the Waters Troubled: the Life of Ida B. Wells, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); John Hope Franklin and August Meier, Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cotter, Joseph Seamon, Sr. (1861-1949)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr., the father of poet-playwright Joseph Seamon, Jr., distinguished himself as a playwright, poet, author, and educator. Cotter was born in Bardstown, Kentucky in 1861, but was reared in Louisville. He was one of the earliest African American playwrights to be published. His father, Michael J. Cotter, was of Scots-Irish ancestry, and his mother, Martha Vaughn, was an African American. Cotter, Sr. married Maria F.

Sources: 
Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Miller, Kelly (1863-1939)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Dr. Scott W. Williams, “Kelly Miller,” Mathematics of the African Diaspora, http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/special/miller_kelley.html (Accessed September 7, 2010); Carter G. Woodson, “Kelly Miller,” Journal of Negro History 25 (January, 1940): 126-138; August Meier, "The Racial and Educational Philosophy of Kelly Miller, 1895-1915," Journal of Negro Education 29 (July, 1960): 121-27; William M. Banks, Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life (New York: W.W. Norton & Company), 71-72, 96, 283-284.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Stanford University

Smith, Kirke (1865-1935)

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People
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African American History

 

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Kirke Smith was born July 22, 1865 in Montgomery County, Virginia. He graduated from Berea College in1894 and earned an M.A. degree from the University of Michigan.  In 1894, Smith became the Superintendent of the Lebanon Colored Schools and the following year, Superintendent of Principals in the Lebanon, Kentucky school system, a post he held for fifteen years.  During this period he also became an ordained minister.

On January 12, 1904, Democratic representative Carl Day, of Breathitt, Kentucky, introduced House Bill 25, “An Act to prohibit white and colored persons from attending the same school.”  The so-called Day Bill was aimed at Berea College since separate public schools for blacks and whites had been the law in the state for some time. After a  lawsuit to defend its interracial educational policy was defeated in the courts, Berea raised funds to establish a new school for blacks. From 1910-1912, the trustees employed Rev. Kirke Smith and Rev. James Bond, the grandfather of Julian Bond, to raise money for the new school which would be named Lincoln Institute.

Sources: 
John A. Harding, Fifty Years of Segregation: Black Higher Education in Kentucky, 1904-1934 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1997); Eric A. Smith, "Discovering History Through Genealogy: Kirke Smith and the Founding of Lincoln Institute,” Afro-American Genealogical & Historical Society of Chicago Newsletter  23:4 (June 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Afro-American Genealogical & Historical Society of Chicago

Terrell, Mary Church (1863-1954)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Mary Church Terrell, A Colored Woman in a White World (Humanity Books, 2005); Cynthia Neverdon-Morton, “Mary Church Terrell,” in African American Lives, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Davidson, Olivia A. (1854-1889)

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People
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African American History

 

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Born in Virginia in 1854, Olivia A. Davidson, the daughter of an ex-slave and freeborn mother, was the seventh of ten children.  The family moved from Virginia to southern Ohio in 1857, then moved to the northern part of the state in Albany and Athens after her father’s death.  The later move had a significant influence on her development as she attended the Enterprise Academy, which was owned, operated, and controlled by African American educators. Also, the Albany area was a focal point for anti-slavery sentiment, the site for three routes of the Underground Railroad, and it provided Davidson with the opportunity to interact with many Oberlin College graduates and faculty as well as African American activists.   

Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine Black Women in America an Historical Encyclopedia Volumes 1 and 2 (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publishing, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Pegg, John Grant (1869-1916)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Owneship: Public Domain
John Grant Pegg was born around 1869 in Virginia.  He began his career in about 1890 as a Pullman porter, working out of Chicago. It was there that he met Mary Charlotte Page of Kansas, a seamstress. After their marriage they moved to Omaha, Nebraska in 1898.  Pegg became involved in Omaha politics as a Republican committeeman who became known informally as the “councilman for the Black community.”  In 1910 Pegg became the first African American appointed Inspector of Weights & Measures for the City of Omaha.  His work in the black community led him to be known as a “race man” dedicated to improving the African American section of Omaha’s population. Pegg, for example, was a Shriner and a member of the local Masonic Lodge.

The Kincaid Homestead Act of 1904 opened up thousands of acres of northern Nebraska for homesteaders.  In 1911, John Pegg sponsored a number of black settlers who went by wagon out to Cherry County, Nebraska to homestead.  Among them were his brother Charlie Pegg and his nephew James. They homesteaded land in John Pegg’s name in Cherry County although John Pegg never lived on the homestead. His brother and nephew operated a cattle ranch that supplied beef to the South Omaha packing plants.  John Grant Pegg died in 1916 in Omaha.
Sources: 
Personal letters and journal entries of William Gaitha Pegg, son of John Grant Pegg, 1982.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ware, John (1845?-1905)

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People
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Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Ware was born a slave in South Carolina circa 1845.  When the Civil War ended, he decided to exercise his freedom by moving west.  Ware settled in Texas and got a job with a rancher who raised horses.  In 1879 Ware rode north on a cattle drive to Montana and remained in the area.  Three years later he relocated across the Canadian border to Alberta, and in 1884 he filed on a 160-acre homestead west of Calgary.  Ware raised a few cattle and supplemented his income by working as a hired hand for nearby ranchers, specializing in handling horses.

In 1892 Ware married Mildred Lewis, the daughter of one of the few black couples to move from eastern Canada to Alberta during the frontier era.  They eventually had six children but, ironically, no grandchildren.  In 1900 they sold their ranch and bought another in eastern Alberta near the town of Brooks.  The Wares were never economically prominent but they were well known and liked by their mostly Caucasian neighbors.  
Sources: 
Grant MacEwan, John Ware’s Cow Country (Edmonton:  Institute of Applied Art, Ltd., 1960); Tim O’Byrne,John Ware, Cowboy Role Model,” Western Horseman, 66:4 (April 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Juneteenth

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Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
“Juneteenth” is the common Texan’s parlance for June 19, 1865, the day that Union General Gordon Granger issued General Order #3, at Galveston, Texas, setting free all remaining African American bondsmen held in Texas.  For many former bondsmen in Texas, northwestern Louisiana, and southwestern Arkansas, this date came to symbolize the day of the “Jubilo” for black people!  They had prayed, sung, and shouted and finally their day of liberation had come.

Freedmen in Texas immediately gave meaning to Gordon Granger’s words. Beginning in 1866, Juneteenth was welcomed in the black community with barbecues, dances, and parades.  During the 1960s and 1970s, the remembrance diminished because younger blacks thought the day was a reminder of enslavement and the denial of equal opportunities.  In June 1974, Houston Mayor Fred Hofheinz issued a proclamation making June 19 “Emancipation Proclamation Day in Houston.”
Sources: 
Francis E. Abernathy, Patrick B. Mullen and Alan B. Govenar, eds., Juneteenth Texas: Essays In African-American Folklore (1996).  See also www.griotcalendar.org    
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ricketts, Matthew Oliver (1853-1917)

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People
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African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. Matthew Oliver Ricketts was the generally acknowledged political leader of Omaha’s African Americans at the turn of the 20th century.  Ricketts was born to an enslaved couple near New Castle, Kentucky in 1858.  He later received a degree from Lincoln Institute at Jefferson City, Missouri, and three years later moved to Omaha.   When he arrived in Omaha in 1880, despite scarce resources, he was admitted to Omaha Medical College, where he worked as a janitor to pay his tuition.   Elected to the state legislature for the sessions of 1892 and 1894, he became the first Nebraskan of African descent to sit in that body.   He was credited with the creation of the Negro Fire Department Company, and was also credited with securing appointments for blacks in government positions.
Sources: 
Dennis N. Mihelich, “The Origins of the Prince Hall Mason Grand Lodge of Nebraska,” Nebraska History, 76:1, (Spring, 1995), 10-21.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College (Maryland)

Langford, Sam (1886-1956)

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People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Courtesy of Clay Moyle

Sam Langford was one of the greatest fighters in boxing history. Born in Weymouth Falls, Nova Scotia on March 4, 1886, the 5’ 7” dynamo migrated to Boston, Massachusetts, and engaged in close to 300 officially recorded professional contests from 1902 to 1926. He was an exceptionally courageous and intelligent fighter with long arms and an impressive upper torso. He also packed a tremendous wallop in both hands and knocked out many of the much larger and talented boxers of his day. In 2003, Ring Magazine’s writers listed him second on their list of the 100 greatest pound for pound punchers of all-time.

Sources: 
Jack Dempsey (as told to Bob Considine and Bill Slocum), Dempsey, By the Man Himself (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960); Clay Moyle, Sam Langford: Boxing's Greatest Uncrowned Champion (Seattle: Bennett & Hastings, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Truth, Sojourner, Isabella Baumfree (ca. 1791-1883)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Olive Gilbert and Frances Titus, Narrative of Sojourner Truth; A Bondswoman of Olden Time, Emancipated by the New York Legislature in the Early Part of the Present Century; with a History of her Labors and Correspondence Drawn from her “Book of Life” (1875); Carleton Mabee, Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend (1993); Nell Irvin Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (1996), Priscilla Pope-Levison, Turn the Pulpit Loose: Two Centuries of American Women Evangelists (2004).
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Miller, Thomas E. (1849-1938)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Politician and educator, Thomas E. Miller was born in Ferrebeeville, Beaufort County, South Carolina on June 17, 1849.  Miller was the son of free black parents, and moved with them to Charleston, South Carolina in 1851 where he attended the all-black schools in the city.  After the Civil War, Miller moved to Hudson, New York where he worked and continued his education.  He then received a scholarship that allowed him to attend Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Miller graduated from Lincoln in 1872.

Miller returned to South Carolina and was appointed school commissioner of Beaufort County.  He then moved to Columbia, the state capital where he studied law at the recently integrated University of South Carolina.  Miller was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1875.

While preparing for a career in the law Miller had already entered politics.  He served as a member of the South Carolina Assembly between 1874 and 1880.  Then in 1880 he was elected to the State Senate and nominated for lieutenant governor.  Miller did not enter the race because the South Carolina Republican Party chose not to put forward a ticket in the wake of anti-black violence.  Miller nonetheless remained politically active.  He was the Republican Party state chairman in 1884.
Sources: 
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress; Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Tresse, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990); Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, Cornel West, eds.,  Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History Vol 4 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lester, Peter (1814- ? )

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Peter Lester moved with his wife Nancy and five children to San Francisco from Philadelphia in 1850, where he was appalled to find that slavery was still a fact of life in the free state of California. In an attempt to do something about this, he invited black slaves and domestic workers into his home to lecture about their rights and to teach them anti-slavery songs.

Mr. Lester was making his living as a bootblack and boot maker in San Francisco when he met Mifflin W. Gibbs in the early California gold rush days. They became partners in the firm Lester & Gibbs, and opened up a successful shoe store in 1851 bearing the name (according to Mr. Gibbs) “Emporium for Fine Boots and Shoes, imported from Philadelphia, London and Paris.” This business saw wide success in both wholesale and retail, and the pair became very wealthy.
Sources: 
Rudolph M. Lapp, Blacks in Gold Rush California (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977).
 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

The New Age, Portland, OR (1896-1907)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Between 1860 and 1900, Portland, Oregon's African American population increased from sixteen to 775, still small, but large enough to support two churches, a few businesses, and The New Age, a black paper established in 1896 by Adolphus D. Griffin, former editor of the Northwest Echo in Spokane, Washington. For the next decade, Griffin used the weekly newspaper to keep black Oregonians apprised of the "crucial racial issues of the day." These included the national debate over Booker T. Washington's accommodationist policies, and pressing local concerns such as limited job opportunities for Portland's new arrivals, housing discrimination, and inequities in the judicial system.
Sources: 
Oznathylee Alverdo Hopkins, "Black Life in Oregon, 1899-1907: A Study of the Portland New Age" (BA thesis, Reed College, 1974).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

Robert Lloyd Smith (1861-1942)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Robert Lloyd Smith, politician and businessman, was born in 1861, to free black parents, one of whom was a schoolteacher.  Smith attended the public elementary schools in Charleston.  In 1875 he entered the University of South Carolina and remained there until 1877.  Leaving the University of South Carolina when it shut its doors to black students, Smith entered Atlanta University, where he graduated in 1880 with a Bachelor of Science degree in English and mathematics.   Smith moved to Oakland, Colorado County, Texas, where he became principal of the Oakland Normal School.  Later, he became a member of the County Board of School Examiners.  In order to help blacks economically, Smith founded the Oakland Village Improvement Society and the Farmer's Improvement Society.  In 1895 he became involved in politics and ran successfully for the legislature in predominantly white Colorado County.
Sources: 
Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868-1900 (Austin: Eakin, 1985).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Bickford, Sarah Gammon (1855-1931)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sarah Blair was born into slavery on Christmas Day, 1855, on the Blair Plantation near Greensboro, North Carolina. After the Civil War Sarah lived with an aunt in Knoxville, Tennessee and changed her name to Gammon, the aunt’s name.  In 1870, Knoxville Judge John L. Murphy was appointed to a judicial post in Virginia City, Montana Territory.  Sarah, about 15 years of age, was offered free transportation to Montana in exchange for caring for the Murphy children.  She accepted and the family arrived in Virginia City, Montana in January 1871.  

Sarah entered Virginia City during its gold rush and quickly found work as a chambermaid at Virginia City’s Madison House Hotel.  In 1872 she married William Leonard Brown, a successful gold miner.  They had two sons and a daughter.  Within a few years, however, both her sons and her husband died of diphtheria.

Sarah and surviving child, Eva, relocated to Laurin, Montana Territory, where they lived with a merchant family.  Eva Brown died of pneumonia in 1881 at the age of nine.  Two years later Sarah married Stephen Bickford, a white native of Maine, in 1883.  Four children were born to that marriage, Elmer in 1884, Harriett in 1887, Helena in 1890 and Mabel in 1892.  
Sources: 
Marlette C. Lacey, From Slave to Water Magnate (Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

George, Sugar T. (1827-1900)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Sugar T. George a.k.a. George Sugar was born in approximately 1827, as a slave in the Muskogee Nation. This former slave emerged as a tribal leader. By the time of his death in 1900, Sugar T. George was also said to have been the "wealthiest Negro in the [Indian] Territory."

George escaped from bondage when in November 1861, Opothleyohola, an Upper Creek chief, led 5,000 Creeks, 2,500 Seminoles, Cherokees, and other Indians, and approximately 500 slaves and free blacks from Indian Territory into Kansas to avoid living under the domination of Pro-Confederate Indian leaders during the Civil War. George joined the Union Army in Kansas, serving in Company H of the 1st Indian Home Guards.  Because of his natural skills as a leader and his literacy he quickly became a First Sergeant in his unit.  George acted as the unofficial leader of Company H, taking charge after the white officer and Indian officer had been dismissed for improper behavior.

Sources: 
Documents found in Civil War Pension File of Sugar T. George; Claims of the Loyal Creeks, RG 75 National Archives; Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma LDS Microfiche #6016976 Volume 111---Cemeteries.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Gordon, Taylor Emmanuel (1893-1971)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Taylor Emmanuel Gordon was born in 1893 in White Sulphur Springs, Montana, one of six children of a cook and a laundress.  He is best known for his career as a singer in the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s.  After leaving Montana in 1910 for a job in Minnesota, Gordon eventually made his way to New York. There he joined a vaudeville act called “The Inimitable Five,” and toured coast to coast.  As the Harlem Renaissance gathered steam in the mid-1920s, he found more opportunities to advance his singing career.  The most important of these was a partnership with J. Rosamond Johnson, who with his brother James Weldon Johnson, composed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and compiled the classic Book of American Negro Spirituals.   Gordon joined Rosamond Johnson as a singing partner and the pair quickly achieved fame, touring the United States, France, and England.  In 1927 they gave an acclaimed concert at Carnegie Hall sponsored by the Urban League.  W.E.B. Du Bois wrote afterwards that “No one who has heard Johnson and Gordon sing ‘Stand Still Jordan’ can ever forget its spell.”  
Sources: 
Taylor Gordon, Born to Be, With a New Introduction by Robert Hemenway (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1975).  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Texas Seminole Scouts

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Texas Seminole Scouts were descendants of runaway slaves who fled into Florida before the Civil War.  The offer of freedom by the Spanish greatly encouraged South Carolina and Georgia slaves to vote for freedom with their feet.  The blacks cooperated and joined the Seminoles and in some cases were “owned” as slaves by the Seminoles.  The Seminole blacks lived an essentially separate existence from the Seminole but did cooperate militarily for their mutual defense. Other Seminole blacks intermarried with the Seminole and served as advisors and interpreters.  Between 1838-1842, most of the Seminole and Seminole blacks left Florida for Indian Territory.  
Sources: 
Kevin Mulroy, Freedom on the Border: The Seminole Maroons in Florida, the Indian Territory, and Coahuila, and Texas (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Augusta State University

The Colored Citizen, Helena, Montana (1894)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Colored Citizen published weekly in Helena, Montana, for a little over two months during the electoral campaign season, September to November 1894. The paper proclaimed its purpose to become “the mouthpiece . . . to educate the public to a full appreciation of our [African Americans in Montana] worth, that we may be judged impartially.” The paper’s political purpose, however, was embedded in the raucous and brazen contest between Helena and Anaconda to become the new State of Montana’s permanent capital, the so-called “Capital Fight.” J.P. Ball, Jr., son of a photographer who had migrated to Helena from Cincinnati, took on the position of editor. The Colored Citizen’s financing for the paper came from local boosters for Helena as the state capital, including the most vocal proponent, mining baron William A. Clark.
Sources: 
William L. Lang, “The Nearly Forgotten Blacks on Last Chance Gulch, 1900-1912,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 70 (April 1979): 50-57; Rex C. Myers, “Montana’s Negro Newspapers, 1894-1911,” Montana Journalism Review 16 (1973): 17-22; Michael P. Malone, Richard B. Roeder, William L. Lang, Montana: A History of Two Centuries, 209-215.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Portland State University

Steward, Theophilus Gould (1843-1925)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Theophilus G. Steward, African Methodist Episcopal minister, U.S. Army chaplain, and historian, was born 17 April 1843 in Bridgeton, New Jersey.  Publicly educated, he entered the ministry in 1864 and immediately sought to “go South.”  His wishes were granted in May 1865 and he departed for South Carolina where he married Elizabeth Gadsen after a short courtship.  Under the direction of Bishop Daniel Payne, Steward assisted in the establishment of AME churches in South Carolina and Georgia for the next seven years.  Between 1882 and 1891, Steward performed missionary work in Haiti and served as a pastor in Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Sources: 
Frank N Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldiers II: New and Revised Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2004); Steward, Fifty Years in the Gospel Ministry (electronic edition hosted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001 <http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/steward />); Steward, The Colored Regulars in the United States Army (New York, New York: Arno Press, 1969).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps (1861-1865)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In 1859, the all-white volunteer fire department of Victoria, British Columbia refused blacks in their ranks. Therefore, some blacks volunteered their services to Governor James Douglas as a militia unit. Concerns over an imminent Indian War and a dispute between Britain and the United States over the San Juan Islands influenced Douglas to accept the offer of a volunteer militia unit that was sponsored by a prominent black merchant, Mifflin Gibbs.
Sources: 
 A Resource Guide on Black Pioneers in British Columbia.(Victoria, B.C: The British Columbia Black History Awareness Society,1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
British Columbia Black History Awareness Society

Crogman, William H. (1841-1931)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

William H. Crogman was born on the West Indian island of St. Martin’s in 1841.  At age 12 he was orphaned; by age 14, he took to the sea with B.L. Bommer where he received an informal but international education as he traveled to such places as Europe, Asia, and South America. After the urging of Mr. Bommer, in 1868 he entered Pierce Academy in Massachusetts.  Throughout his schooling experience he was an exceptional and advanced student.  At Pierce he was considered the top student as he mastered in one quarter what usually took students two quarters to complete. Later as a student of Latin at Atlanta University, he completed the four-year curriculum in three years.

Sources: 
William H. Crogman Talks for the Times (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1971).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Leidesdorff, William Alexander (1810-1848)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Although little remembered today, Leidesdorff was a social, economic and political force in pre-gold rush San Francisco, with a number of “firsts” credited to his name. When he was named the U.S. Vice Consul to Mexico in 1845, he became the nation’s first African American diplomat.   He was elected to San Francisco’s first city council and its first school board in 1847.  He built the first hotel, the first shipping warehouse, he operated the first steamboat on San Francisco Bay, and he laid out the first horse race track in California.

Born on the island of St. Croix in the Danish West Indies in 1810, William was the son of Danish sugar planter Alexander Leidesdorff and Anna Marie Sparks, a light-skinned woman of mixed race ancestry.  In 1841 Leidesdorff sailed his 106-ton schooner Julia Ann around Cape Horn to California and settled in the Mexican village of Yerba Buena on San Francisco Bay.  Over the next three years he became a successful merchant by making frequent trips between California, Mexico and Hawaii.  In 1844 governor Micheltorena confirmed his land grant of 35,000 acres on the American River.  Ranch Rio de Los Americanos was located near the spot where James Marshall discovered gold in January 1848. When Leidesdorff died unexpectedly in May 1848 he was given the honor of being buried inside Mission Dolores Church, where his gravestone may still be seen today.

Sources: 
Gary Mitchell Palgon, William Alexander Leidesdorff: First Black Millionaire, American Consul and California Pioneer (Atlanta: Lulu Press, 2005); Sue Bailey Thurman, “William Alexander Leidesdorff” in Pioneers of Negro Origin in California ( San Francisco: Acme Publishing Company, 1952) http://www.sfmuseum.net/bio/leidesdorff.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
National Park Service

Seymour, William J. (1870-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

William J. Seymour was born in Centerville, Louisiana, to former slaves Simon and Phillis Seymour, who raised him in the Baptist church. While living in Cincinnati, Ohio, he was influenced by holiness teachings, and then he moved to Houston, where he heard Charles Fox Parham’s teaching on Apostolic Faith. The teaching, simply put, combined the baptism of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues (glossalalia), such as was experienced in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2. Seymour embraced the teaching, moved to Los Angeles, and began preaching in the spring of 1906 in an abandoned church on Azusa Street, which he named the Apostolic Faith Mission. From this place, the Pentecostal movement spread across the globe.

Sources: 
William J. Seymour, ed. The Azusa Street Papers: A Reprint The Apostolic Faith Mission Publications, Los Angeles, California (1906–08). Foley, Ala.: Together in the Harvest Publications, 1997; Grant Wacker, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2001); http://www.ag.org/enrichmentjournal/199904/026_azusa.cfm
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Wysinger v. Crookshank, 1888

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Wysinger v. Crookshank is the first case that rendered school segregation of African Americans in California contrary to the law. On October 1, 1888, 58-year-old Edmond Wysinger, a former slave who bought his freedom working in the California mines, moved to Visalia, California. When he attempted to enroll his son, Arthur, in the only high school in Visalia, he was told that because Arthur was “colored” he could not be admitted. Edmond Wysinger sued the school district to have his son be admitted to Visalia High School.

The case was tried in the Superior Court of Tulare County where a ruling was issued against the plaintiff.  Wysinger and his lawyers appealed and the case eventually ended up before the Supreme Court of California.  On January 29, 1890, the Court ruled that California Political Code 1669 had been amended in 1880 to allow the desegregation of all schools in the state.  Shortly afterwards Arthur was the first African American student to be admitted to Visalia’s high school. This case marked the beginning of a century-long campaign to eliminate all vestiges of school segregation in the state of California.

Sources: 
Deliah Beasley, The Negro Trail Blazers of California (Negro University Press, New York, 1919), 172-173.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Santa Barbara

Cooper, Anna Julia Haywood (1858-1964)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was a writer, teacher, and activist who championed education for African Americans and women. Born into bondage in 1858 in Raleigh, North Carolina, she was the daughter of an enslaved woman, Hannah Stanley, and her owner, George Washington Haywood.

In 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War, Anna began her formal education at Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute, a coeducational facility built for former slaves. There she received the equivalent of a high school education.

Sources: 
Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); Paula J. Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America (New York: HarperCollins, 2001); Kimberly Springer, “Anna Julia Haywood Cooper,” in African American Lives, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Buxton, Iowa (1895-1927)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Most coal mining communities are transitory due to the demands of the mining industry. However, that was not the case with Buxton, Iowa, a coal mining colony with a large black population that grew in southern Iowa at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Beginning in the 1890s Ben Buxton, the President and principal stockholder of the Consolidation Coal Company and North Western Railroad of Chicago, Illinois, sent agents to the southern states to recruit black laborers to work in the coal mines of Iowa following strikes by white miners. Most of those recruits settled in the town of Buxton, founded by the company in 1895 to house the new arrivals.   Most of the miners arrived from the Virginia and West Virginia coal mining regions.  

At its peak in 1910, Buxton’s population was between eight and ten thousand people. Although it was usually described as “a black man’s town” it was in fact a multi-ethnic community throughout its history. Swedes, Slovaks and Welsh immigrants were the largest European groups although African Americans were by far the largest ethnic group in the town.
Sources: 
David M. Gradwohl & Nancy M. Osborn, Exploring Buried Buxton (Ames: Iowa University State Press, 1984); Dorothy Schwieder, Buxton (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1987); Eric A. Smith, Buxton, Iowa: An Experiment in Racial Integration, The Iowa Genealogical Society, Hawkeye Heritage (Vol. 34, Issue 3, Fall 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Afro-American Genealogical & Historical Society of Chicago

Wright, Jonathan J. (1840-1885)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Jonathan Jasper Wright, the first African American to serve on a state Supreme Court, was born in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania and grew up in nearby Susquehanna County in the northeastern corner of the state.  In 1858, Wright traveled to Ithaca, New York where he enrolled in the Lancasterian Academy, a school where older students helped teach younger ones.  He graduated in 1860 and for the next five years taught school and read law in Pennsylvania.

Wright’s first known political activity came in October 1864 when he was a delegate to the National Convention of Colored Men meeting in Syracuse.  The convention, chaired by Frederick Douglass, passed resolutions calling for a nationwide ban on slavery, racial equality under the law and universal suffrage for adult males.  When Wright applied for admission to the Pennsylvania bar, however, he was refused because of his race.
Sources: 
Frederic D. Schwarz, “The Reluctant Judge,” American Legacy 10:3 (Fall 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

Louisiana Purchase and African Americans (1803)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
It is ironic that the 1803 Louisiana Purchase from France was instigated by one of the few successful slave rebellions. Toussaint L’Overture on St. Dominique (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) so bedeviled the French that Napoleon decided to sell the Louisiana Territory to the US.  This doubled the size of the infant United States and has been heralded as crucial to the American path to becoming the world superpower.
Sources: 
John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr., From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans (Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1994);
http://www.monticello.org/jefferson/lewisandclark/louisiana.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Elaw, Zilpa (1790? - ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Born in Pennsylvania to free parents, who raised her in the Christian faith, she was sent around the age of twelve, after her mother died, to live with a Quaker couple. At the age of fourteen, she began attending Methodist meetings, where she was converted. In 1810, she and Joseph Elaw were married; they settled in Burlington, New Jersey, because of his job as a fuller. They had a daughter, who was eleven years old when Joseph died of consumption in 1823.
Sources: 
Zilpha Elaw, Memoirs of the Life, Religious Experience, Ministerial Travels and Labours of Mrs. Zilpha Elaw, An American Female of Color: Together with Some Account of the Great Religious Revivals in America (1846); William L. Andrews, ed., Sisters of the Spirit: Three Black Women’s Autobiographies of the Nineteenth Century (1986).
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Turner, James Milton (1840-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of Kingdom of Callaway
Historical Society in Fulton, MO
James Milton Turner was an African American Missourian who was a prominent politician, education advocate and diplomat in the years after the Civil War. Turner was born a slave in St. Louis, Missouri in 1840. His father, John Turner (also known as John Colburn), was a well-known “horse doctor” in St. Louis who had earlier purchased his freedom. In 1843 John Turner was able to buy freedom for his wife, Hannah, and his son James. When he was fourteen James attended Oberlin College in Ohio for one term until his father’s death in 1855 forced him to return to St. Louis to help support his mother and family.

During the Civil War Turner enlisted in the Union Army and served as the body servant for Col. Madison Miller. After the war, Governor Thomas Fletcher (Miller’s brother-in-law), appointed Turner Assistant Superintendent of Schools responsible for establishing freedmen schools in Missouri. Turner was also behind the effort to establish Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City, Missouri, the first school to offer higher education for blacks in Missouri. Turner was also active in organizing African Americans as a political force in Missouri.
Sources: 
Irving Dillard, “James Milton Turner, A Little Known Benefactor of His People.” The Journal of Negro History Vol. 19, No. 4 (October 1934), 372-411; Gary R. Kremer, James Milton Turner and the Promise of America: The Public Life of a Post-Civil War Black Leader (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1991).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Saskatchewan

Fortes, Seraphim “Joe” (1865-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Seraphim “Joe” Fortes was born in Barbados, West Indies. He was a seaman and came to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1885. There he worked as a barman at the Sunnyside Hotel. English Bay became his favourite spot as he loved the water and was an excellent swimmer. Every day he swam in the bay, and finally he gave up his hotel job to live in a little cottage on the shore where he became a well-known lifeguard.


Joe guarded the beach kindly, but firmly, and taught the children who came there how to swim. He is credited with rescuing over 100 lives of both children and adults who ventured too far and got in trouble. For his community service, the City of Vancouver made him a special constable. When Beach Avenue was being improved, Joe’s little cottage was moved beside the bandstand at Alexandra Park, and he lived there until he died. In 1924, a memorial drinking fountain was erected facing the beach where he had served as guardian and teacher for over twenty years. He is honoured as the first English Bay lifeguard after the Park Board decided to create such a post.

Sources: 
A Resource Guide on Black Pioneers in British Columbia (Victoria, B.C: The British Columbia Black History Awareness Society, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
British Columbia Black History Awareness Society

Pleasant, Mary Ellen (1814-1904)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Mary Ellen Pleasant was born on Aug. 19, 1814 in Virginia and spent her early years in Nantucket.  She worked as a bond servant to the Hussey family, an abolitionist family.  She later married James Smith, a wealthy former plantation owner and an abolitionist.  Mary Ellen and James worked on the Underground Railroad.  After Smith’s death four years later, Mary Ellen continued her work as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Mary Ellen married John James Pleasant around 1848.  To avoid trouble with slavers for their abolitionist work, the couple moved to San Francisco in April 1852.  Mrs. Pleasant established several restaurants for California miners, the first named the Case and Heiser.  With the help of clerk Thomas Bell, Mrs. Pleasant amassed a fortune by 1875 through her investments and various businesses by 1875.  She also helped to establish the Bank of California.

Pleasant earned her title as the “Mother” of California’s early civil rights movement, establishing the local Underground Railroad.  She financially supported John Brown from 1857 to 1859.   In the 1860s and 1870s, Mrs. Pleasant brought several civil rights lawsuits in California, especially against the trolley companies, most of which she won.
Sources: 
Lynne Hudson, The Making of Mammy Pleasant: A Black Entrepreneur in Nineteenth Century San Francisco (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003).  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Tullahassee Manual Labor School (1850-1924)

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Tullahassee Manual Labor School was a boarding school for Creek freedmen funded by the Creek Nation in the Indian Territory.  The Tullahassee  school was originally founded in 1850 as the first of three boarding schools for the education of Creek children by the Creek Nation. The school was located at the confluence of the Arkansas and Verdigris Rivers on the northeastern edge of Creek Nation and served as the premier educational institution among the Creeks for many years.  In December 1880 the three-story brick school building was mostly destroyed in a fire.  The Creek Council used the opportunity to relocate the Indian boarding school to a new location and offered the burned-out building and the 100 improved acres surrounding the building to the African Creeks for use as a boarding school. The Council also provided funds to re-build the school, and with the cooperation of Baptist Home Mission Society reopened the school in 1883 as the Tullahassee Manual Labor School.  
Sources: 
Gary Zellar, African Creeks: Estelvste and the Creek Nation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007); Althea Bass, The Story of Tullahassee (Oklahoma City: Semco Color Press, 1960).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Saskatchewan

Waller, John Lewis (1850-1907)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

Sources: 
Randall Bennett Wood, A Black Odyssey: John Lewis Waller and the Promise of American Life, 1878-1900 (Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1981); Clay Smith Jr., Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer 1844-1944 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999); "John Waller" in  Kansapedia, the Kansas Historical Society. May 2009, http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/john-waller/12232.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Fagen, David (1875- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
David Fagen was the most celebrated of the handful of African American soldiers who defected to the Filipino revolutionary army led by Emilio Aguinaldo during the Filipino American War of 1899-1902.  Fagen was born in Tampa, Florida around 1875. Details of his life remain sketchy. His father was a merchant and a widower. For a time he worked as a laborer for Hull’s Phosphate Company.

On June 4, 1898 at the age of 23, Fagen enlisted in the 24th Infantry, one of the four black regiments of that time that was coincidentally based in Tampa. Fagen would see combat a year later as he shipped off from San Francisco, California to Manila on June 1899. By then, the Filipino American war had been raging for four months, as Filipino patriots sought to defend their newly established Republic which they had won in a revolution against Spain. Fagen was soon in combat against Filipino guerillas in Central Luzon. Reports indicate that he had constant arguments with his commanding officers and requested to be transferred at least three times which contributed to his growing resentment of the Army.
Sources: 
Michael C. Robinson and Frank N. Schubert, “David Fagen: an Afro-American Rebel in the Philippines, 1899-1901,” The Pacific-Historical Review, vol. 44, No. 1, (Feb. 1975), pp.68-83.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hampton University (1868-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Hampton University, located on the shore of Chesapeake Bay in Hampton, Virginia, was founded in 1868 by Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the son of a prominent missionary family that settled in Hawaii in the early 1800s. Armstrong was enrolled at Williams College in Massachusetts when the Civil War began.  He volunteered for the Union Army, rose quickly in rank and was given command of an African American military unit.  By the end of the Civil War Armstrong had obtained the rank of Brevet General.
Sources: 
E. A. Talbot and F. G. Peabody, Peabody Education for Life: A History of Hampton Institute (New York: Doubleday 1969); Donald Lindsey, Indians at Hampton Institute, 1877-1923 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1944); Keith Schall, ed., Stony the Road: Chapters in the History of Hampton Institute (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1977).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hawaii

Aldridge, Ira (1807-1867)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ira Frederick Aldridge was the first African American actor to achieve success on the international stage. He also pushed social boundaries by playing opposite white actresses in England and becoming known as the preeminent Shakespearean actor and tragedian of the 19th Century.
Sources: 
Bernth Lindfors, Ira Aldridge, the African Roscius (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2007); Bernth Lindfors, Ira Aldridge: The Early Years, 1807-1833 (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2011); Bernth Lindfors, Ira Aldridge: The Vagabond Years, 1833-1852 (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2011); Herbert Marshall, Ira Aldridge: Negro Tragedian (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1993); Anthony D. Hill, An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2007.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

McElwee, Samuel Allen (1857– 1914)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
During the first twenty-five years following the American Civil War and the emancipation, many African American men in the South were elected to state legislatures and local government posts. Among those in Tennessee was Samuel Allen McElwee from Haywood County, one of the two western counties with a majority black population. McElwee, a lawyer, became the most powerful Republican Party leader in Haywood County in the late 19th Century. He served in the Tennessee legislature from 1882 to the rigged election of 1888. As a legislator he earned a reputation as a skilled orator and was a presenter at the National Convention of the Republican Party in 1884 in Chicago.

McElwee was born in Madison County, Tennessee and grew up in neighboring Haywood County. He was educated at local freedmen’s schools and Oberlin College in Ohio before starting a teaching career in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. McElwee also attended Fisk University, graduating in 1883 and the following year at the age of 26 he was elected to the Tennessee Legislature, representing Haywood County. While serving in the Legislature McElwee obtained a law degree from Central Tennessee Law School in Nashville in 1886. McElwee was the first and only African American to practice law in Brownsville, Tennessee until the 1960s.
Sources: 
Richard A. Couto, Lifting the Veil: A Political History of Struggles for Emancipation (Knoxville: 1993); Dorothy Granberry, “When the Rabbit Foot Was Worked and Republican Votes Became Democratic Votes: Black Disfranchisement in Haywood County, Tennessee,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Spring 2004: 35 – 47.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Bridges Research

African Company / African Grove Theatre

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The African Company was the first known black theatre troupe. In 1816, William Henry Brown (1815-1884), a retired West Indian steamship steward, acquired a house on Thomas Street in lower Manhattan, New York. He offered a variety of instrumental and vocal entertainments on Sunday afternoons in his tea garden, attracting a sizeable audience from the five boroughs of New York City.

In 1821, Brown moved to Mercer and Bleeker Street into a two-story house with a spacious tea garden. He converted the second floor into a 300-seat theatre and renamed the enterprise The African Grove Theatre. Opening the season with a performance of Richard III (21 September 1821), the company mounted productions ranging from Shakespeare, to pantomime, to farce. Brown followed with Tom and Jerry; or, Life in London; The Poor Soldier; Othello; Don Juan; and Obi, or, Three-Finger’d Jack.

Sources: 
Errol Hill, Shakespeare in Sable: A History of Black Shakespearean Actors (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1984); Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Berea College

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Berea College Class of 1901
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Berea College, located in east central Kentucky at the base of the Cumberland Mountains, was founded in 1855 by abolitionist John G. Fee.  Berea was one of the first fully integrated colleges in the South, enrolling an essentially equal number of blacks and whites from 1865 to 1892.  Racial coeducation in a slaveholding state was a monumental experiment.  However, in 1904, the Day Law, aimed specifically at Berea, outlawed integrated education in Kentucky, thus forcing the College to turn its focus toward educating impoverished white Appalachian students.  Berea officials quickly responded to the policy change by using some of its endowment to establish Lincoln Institute in Simpsonville, near Louisville, to educate African Americans.  
Sources: 
Jacqueline Burnside, “Suspicion Versus Faith: Negro Criticism of Berea College,” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 83 (Summer 1985): 237-66; Andrew Baskin, “Berea College and the Founding of Lincoln Institute,” Griot 9 (Spring 1990): 39-56; Dwayne Mack, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Berea College’s Participation in the Selma to Montgomery March,” Ohio Valley History (Fall 2005).  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Tubman, Harriet Ross (c. 1821-1913)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Dubbed “The Moses of Her People,” escaped slave Harriet Tubman assisted hundreds of slaves on the Underground Railroad, leading them from Maryland to safety in Pennsylvania.  Born enslaved and raised in Dorchester County, Maryland to Benjamin and Harriett Greene Ross, Harriett was both a field hand and a domestic servant.  As a young girl, she suffered a lifelong injury after her master threw a piece of iron at her, which struck her in the head.  Throughout her life, Harriett suffered bouts of narcoleptic seizures.  In 1844, she married a free black man, John Tubman.  She escaped in 1849 in order to avoid being sold into the Deep South. Her husband refused to go with her.  Several months later, when she returned to get him, she learned he had taken another wife.  He died shortly after the end of the Civil War. Harriett later married Nelson Davis.

Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992) and Darlene Clark Hine, “Harriet Tubman” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. II (New York: Carlson, 1993): 1176-1180.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins (1825-1911)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A poet and essayist, Frances Ellen Watkins was born in Baltimore in 1825.  Orphaned at the age of three, Watkins went to live with her aunt and uncle, Harriet and William Watkins.  Unlike most free blacks, Frances grew up in comfortable surroundings; her uncle juggled several occupations in order to support the family, including preaching, shoemaking, and medicine. He was also a teacher and administrator at Watkins Academy, a school he had established in 1820.  Like other young women, Frances learned the female “trades” of sewing and domestic work in addition to learning academic subjects at her uncle’s school.  

While working for a white family as a nursemaid, she read extensively and began writing poetry.  She compiled her first collection of poems, Forest Leaves, in 1845.  Her early associations with influential abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and William Still helped in the publication and circulation of her work.  In addition to writing poetry, she traveled on the antislavery lecture circuit and sent the money she earned on these tours to her uncle in order to sustain the work of the Underground Railroad.  
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992); Frances Smith Foster, “Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. I (New York: Carlson, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Paul, Susan (1809–1841)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

The youngest daughter of Baptist minister Rev. Thomas Paul and Catherine Waterhouse Paul, Susan Paul was a primary school teacher and an active member of the bi-racial Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society.  The Pauls were a highly regarded family in the free black abolitionist community in Boston.  Thomas Paul’s brother, Rev. Nathaniel Paul, was also an outspoken opponent of slavery.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992) and Lois Brown, “Out of the Mouths of Babes: the Abolitionist Campaign of Susan Paul and the Boston Juvenile Choir,” New England Quarterly, 75 (March 2002): 52-79.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Stewart, Maria Miller (1803-1879)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Maria Miller was born a free-black in Hartford, Connecticut in 1803.  Little is known about her early life.  She married James Stewart in 1826 and took up public speaking in order to support herself after her husband’s death three years later.  Cheated out of her inheritance by corrupt white Boston businessmen, Stewart relied upon income from teaching and her public speaking engagements.  As one of the first women to speak in public, Stewart was not always well-received.  In a speech to a mixed audience of men and women, she asked, “What if I am a Woman,” reminding her audience that women since ancient times had been revered for their wisdom and accomplishments.  According to Stewart, free blacks had not accorded women the same respect.  

Stewart frequently encountered hostile audiences when she openly chastised black men for intemperance.  As a result, her speaking career was short.  In 1833 she delivered a farewell address in Boston, announcing her decision to leave public speaking.  Her last speech revealed her bitterness and disappointment, stating that it was “no use for me as an individual, to try to make myself useful among my color in this city.” Stewart eventually left New England to pursue a successful career in teaching in New York, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.  Before she left, she recorded the themes of her speeches in a pamphlet, Meditations from the Pen of Mrs. Maria W. Stewart in 1832, which was reprinted shortly before she died.  Stewart died in December 1879 and was buried at Graceland Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992) and Harry A. Reed, “Maria W. Stewart,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. II (New York: Carlson, 1993): 1113-14.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Tandy, Charleton (1836-1919)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charleton Tandy was born in Kentucky in 1836 to parents who were free only because his grandparents had purchased the family’s freedom three years before his birth.  Throughout his childhood, Tandy’s family worked to free slaves through the Underground Railroad, and as a young man, Tandy often led slaves on the route from Covington, Kentucky, to freedom in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Tandy moved to St. Louis in 1857 and worked a series of jobs until the Civil War began, when he became post messenger at Jefferson Barracks.  The war proved good for Tandy’s standing, as he rose from state militia volunteer to captain of “Tandy’s St. Louis Guard,” an African American state militia that he recruited; he carried the honorific “Captain” for the rest of his life.  
His service earned Tandy the notice of several political leaders, and Tandy was able to turn his connections into patronage jobs.  His positions ranged from U.S. land agent and deputy U.S. Marshal in New Mexico and Oklahoma to Custodian of Records at the St. Louis courthouse.  At heart, Tandy was a civil rights activist.  Throughout his life he worked on local issues of interest to Missouri African Americans, including fighting school and transportation segregation.    
Sources: 
Bryan M. Jack, “Bridging the Red Sea:  The Saint Louis African American Community and the Exodusters of 1879” (Ph.D. diss., Saint Louis University, 2004); The Charleton Tandy Papers at the Western Manuscript Historical Collection (University of Missouri at St. Louis); John A. Wright, No Crystal Stair: The Story of Thirteen Afro-Americans Who Once Called St. Louis Home (Florissant, MO:  Ferguson-Florissant School District, 1988).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Winston-Salem State University

Douglass, Anna Murray (c. 1813-1882)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Anna Murray Douglass is best known as the first wife of black abolitionist Frederick Douglass.  Her life illustrates the challenges facing women who were married to famous men.  Born as a free black in rural Maryland, her parents, Mary and Bambarra Murray, were manumitted shortly before her birth. She grew up in Baltimore, where she met a ship caulker six years her junior, Frederick Washington Bailey.  Although it is unclear how they met, Murray facilitated his second escape attempt by providing money for a train ticket and a sailor’s disguise.  She followed him to New York City, where they were married by the prominent black minister, Rev. J.W.C. Pennington.  They adopted the surname Douglass when they moved to a Quaker community in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), and William S. McFeeley, “Anna Murray Douglass,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. I (New York: Carlson, 1993): 347-48.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Parsons, Lucy (1853-1942)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Although Lucy Parsons was one of the first and most important African American activists on the left, there is scanty historical documentation about her origins. It is believed that Lucy Parsons was born on a plantation in Hill County, Texas around March of 1853. Significantly there is evidence that indicates Parsons was born a slave. Her biographer argues that Lucy may have lived for a while with a former slave by the name of Oliver Gathing. Later she married Albert Parsons in 1871. Albert became a white radical Republican and Reconstructionist, after first serving as a Confederate soldier in his youth. Due to their political viewpoint and interracial marriage, Lucy and Albert were forced to migrate from Texas to Chicago in 1873.

Albert and Lucy Parsons arrived in Chicago during a period stamped by an economic crisis (the Depression of 1873) and intense labor unrest. Living among Chicago’s impoverished yet militant workers served as the catalyst for the Parsons' political transformation from radical Republicanism to participants in the radical labor movement. Their initial association with the political left was through the Social Democratic Party and the First International, founded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It was through this contact that the Parsons became aware of the socialist ideology of Marxism. They later became members of the Chicago Chapter of the Workingmen's Party (WPUSA) and many of its meetings were held in the Parsons’ home.
Sources: 
John McClendon III, “Lucy Parsons (1853-1942) Anarchist, socialist, communist, journalist, poet” in Jessie Carnie Smith, ed., Notable Black American Women, Book II (New York: Gale Research, 1996) pp. 514-516; Carolyn Ashbaugh, Lucy Parsons, American Revolutionary (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 1976); Lucy Parsons, Famous Speeches of the Eight Chicago Anarchists (New York: Arno Press and New York Times, 1969); and “Lucy Parsons: Woman of Will” http://www.lucyparsons.org/biography-iww.php
Affiliation: 
Michigan State University

Turner, Nat (1800-1831)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Nathaniel “Nat” Turner was born in Southampton County, Virginia on October 2, 1800, the son of slaves owned by Benjamin Turner, a prosperous farmer. Taught to read by the son of his owner, Turner studied Christianity which he interpreted as condemning slavery. Turner also began to believe that God had chosen him to free his people from slavery. He soon became known among fellow slaves as “The Prophet.”

Turner was sold to slaveholder Joseph Travis in 1830. Less than a year after the sale, Turner received what he assumed was a sign from God when he witnessed the eclipse of the sun. After sharing this experience with a few close friends, they began to plan an insurrection. While still planning the uprising, Turner saw that the color of the sun had changed to a bluish-green, which he believed was the final sign to initiate the uprising. With this confidence, Turner and seven other slaves moved forward with their plans. They first murdered the entire Travis family and eventually fifty whites in the futile effort to incite a general slave uprising. Only 75 slaves and free blacks joined the rebellion.

Sources: 
Kenneth S. Greenburg, ed., Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_Turner; http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASturner.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Whipper, William (1804-1885)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
 William Whipper was born in Little Britain, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on February 22, 1804. Whipper was best known for his activities promoting the abolition of slavery, temperance and “moral suasion” which he defined as the power of non-violence as the most effective way to eradicate racism in America. Whipper’s philosophy of non-violence rested on two principles. “First, to be non-violent reflected humanity’s divine essence.
Sources: 
The Columbia Spy, August 4, 1866, Jan. 29, 1870, courtesy of Lancaster Historical Society; Donald Yacovone, “The Transformation of the Black Temperance Movement, 1807-1854: An Interpretation,” Journal of Early Republic, 8:3 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 281-297; and Tunde Adeleke, “Violence as an option for Free blacks in Nineteenth-Century America,” Canadian Review of American Studies, 35:1 (2005), pp.87-107.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Santa Barbara

Douglass, Frederick (1817-1895)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Frederick Douglass was born into Maryland slavery in 1817 to a slave mother and a slave master father. Young Douglass toiled on a rural plantation and later in Baltimore’s shipyards as a caulker. Douglass, however, learned to read and soon sought out abolitionist literature that alleviated what he termed the graveyard of his mind. He eventually escaped to New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1838, and took the surname Douglass, which he borrowed from the Scottish romance novel, Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott. Douglass’s wife, Anna, followed with their five children. She worked as a laborer in a New Bedford shoe factory while Douglass became a world renowned anti-slavery orator.
Sources: 
Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855); William J. Moses, The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850-1925 (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1978); Leon Litwack, North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961); Benjamin Quarles, Frederick Douglass (New York: Athenaeum, 1968); and Philip S. Foner, Frederick Douglass: A Biography (New York: Citadel Press, 1964).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Taylor, Marshall W. (1878-1932)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
He was a black pioneer in sports long before Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, and even the legendary Jack Johnson. He did not play baseball as Robinson did, nor was he a pugilist as were Johnson and Louis, and although he participated in a sport where the main objective was speed, he was not a track and field person as was Jesse Owens.

His name was Marshall "Major" Taylor, and he rode a bicycle. He was born in 1878 near Indianapolis and was soon recognized as a young black man with a natural talent for riding a bicycle. He had won a number of races in Indianapolis and Chicago by the time he was only fifteen years old. Because of the unadulterated racism directed toward him in the Midwest, he moved to Worchester, Mass., when he was seventeen, and he soon became one of the fastest American amateur cyclists. He turned professional in 1896 and became an overwhelming sensation. It is said that the spectators loved his bold courage. Because of his ability to ride and to win so often, as a black man he had to endure intense racist opposition. Yet he persevered and refused to allow racism to break his spirit.
Sources: 

Michael W. Williams ed., The African American Encyclopedia (New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1993); http://www.majortaylorassociation.org/who.htm.

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Young, Charles (1864-1922)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Colonel Charles Young enjoyed a decorated military career after his graduation from West Point Military Academy in 1889.  A Buffalo Soldier serving with the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 25th Infantry, Young eventually became the first African American to achieve the rank of Colonel in United States Army.

Charles Young was born to ex-slaves in Mays Lick, Kentucky in 1864.  His father, Gabriel, served in the Union Army during the Civil War.  At the age of 20 Charles Young was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point.  In 1889 he became the third African American to graduate from the Academy.

As a second lieutenant Young’s assignment options were limited to the four Buffalo Soldier regiments then stationed in Nebraska, Utah, and Montana.  After serving five years on the “Western Front” with the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, Young left to become a professor of Military Science and Tactics for four years, between 1894 and 1898, at all-black Wilberforce University in Ohio where he became close lifetime friends with fellow faculty member W.E.B. DuBois. Young, an accomplished linguist, taught Latin, Greek, French, Spanish and German at the school as well as military science.
Sources: 
Abraham Chew, A Biography of Colonel Charles Young (Washington, D.C.: R. L. Pendelton, 1923); TaRessa Stovall, The Buffalo Soldier (Chelsea House Publishers, Philadelphia, 1997); T. G. Stewart, Buffalo Soldiers: The Colored Regulars in the United States Army (Amherst, New York: Humanity Books, 2003); http://www.buffalosoldier.net; http://www.nps.gov.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ringold, Millie (1845-1906)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Millie Ringold was a gold prospector, boarding house proprietor, and long-time resident of the Yogo mining district in the Little Belt Mountains of central Montana. According to the 1900 census, Millie Ringold—whose names are variously spelled Molly, Ringo, and Ringgold—was born a slave in 1845 in Virginia. By the 1870s she had settled in Fort Benton, Montana Territory, and worked as a nurse for the U.S. Army.

In 1879 miners discovered gold along Yogo Creek near Helena, Montana, kicking off a short-lived gold rush. Ringold was among the prospectors who flooded the region, reportedly with a wagon, a pair of mules, and an $1,800 grub stake. Although most miners left the area by 1883, Ringold remained, never relinquishing her faith that additional gold deposits would be found.

The 1900 census listed her as prospector-owner of her claim. By that point she had hired an African American man to work for her, who may have been Abraham Carter, the other African American resident listed in the 1900 census for the Yogo District, and one of those who remained after the initial boom played out. When Ringold ran out of funds to pay him, she reportedly did the manual work herself, often wearing men’s overalls.
Sources: 
Montana Historical Society library vertical file, Ringold file, Fergus County Democrat, October 1906; and Kenneth W. Hay, “I Remember Old Yogo and the Weatherwax,” Montana the Magazine of Western History 25:2 (Spring 1975), 62-9.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Flipper, Henry Ossian (1856-1940)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born near Thomasville, Georgia on March 21, 1856, Henry O. Flipper rose to prominence as the first African American graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1877. Despite being born into slavery to Festus, a shoemaker, and Isabella Flipper, Henry was reared in a family that emphasized excellence, and he and his younger brothers all became respected members of their communities as a military officer, AME bishop (Joseph), physician (E.H.), college professor (Carl), and farmer (Festus, Jr.).

Sources: 
Henry O. Flipper, The Colored Cadet at West Point: Autobiography of Lieut. Henry Ossian Flipper, U.S.A. First Graduate of Color from the U.S. Military Academy  (New York: H. Lee & Company, 1878); Henry O. Flipper, Negro Frontiersman: The Western Memoirs of Henry O. Flipper, First Negro graduate of West Point, Theodore D. Harris, ed., (El Paso: Texas Western College Press, 1963); Charles M. Robinson, III, The Court Martial of Lieutenant Henry Flipper (Texas Western Press: El Paso, Texas, 1994); The Online Handbook of Texas.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas, El Paso

Wagoner, Henry O. (1816-1901)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in 1816 in Maryland to a freed slave mother and a German father, Henry O. Wagoner (often spelled Waggoner) had the benefit of a brief exposure to education in Pennsylvania. This limited education gave him a base for further self-education and independent thought. In the 1850s Frederick Douglass employed Wagoner as the Chicago correspondent to his Rochester, New York newspaper, known as Frederick Douglass' Paper after 1851.

Wagoner's obituary notes that he owned a "small mill " in Chicago that burned in 1860, prompting him to move to Denver City, Colorado Territory. His friend Barney Ford may have influenced that decision as the two of them had worked together in Chicago supporting Douglass's abolition movement and his Underground Railroad activities.

In Denver, Wagoner opened various barbering and restaurant businesses and was among the most affluent of Denver's African American residents. While Ford moved from place to place, Wagoner stayed in Denver where he remained a political activist in league with black pioneers Edward Sanderlin and William Jefferson Hardin.
Sources: 
Henry O. Wagoner Obituary, Rocky Mountain News, January 28, 1901; Eugene Berwanger, The Frontier Against Slavery: Western Anti-Negro Prejudice and the Slavery Extension Controversy (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1967).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Colorado Historical Society

Pico, Pio de Jesus (1801-1894)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Pio Pico was the last governor of Mexican California. He was of African, Indian and Spanish ancestry. He was born in San Gabriel in 1801 and resided there until his father’s death in 1819; he then moved to San Diego. It is not clear how he became California’s governor in 1845. Some accounts state that he took over Governor Manuel Micheltorena’s position in 1845 “following a revolt that ended with a bloodless artillery duel near Cahuenga Pass that forced out Governor Manuel Micheltorena.” As governor, Pico participated in the final process of the secularization of the California missions. There are different interpretations of this measure by the Mexican government: one asserts that it was part of the liberal discourse of the post-independence movement in Mexico; another asserts that it was a desperate measure intended to obtain revenue by selling the missions for the impending conflict with the United States over California. In any event, Pio Pico finalized the sale of the missions on October 28, 1845. Pico was said to have taken the final steps of the sale to obtain revenues to pay for maintaining order in Baja California, forestalling the United States imperialistic advance. Upon the loss of Mexico’s Southwestern territories to the United States, Pico escaped to Mexico, only to return to California two years later.
Sources: 
Jessie Elizabeth Bromilow, “Don Pio de Jesus Pico: His Biography and Place in History,” Master of Arts Thesis, University of Southern California, August, 1931. Pio de Jesus Pico (1808-1894), San Diego Historical Society; http://www.sandiegohistory.org/bio/pico/picopio.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Santa Barbara

Brown, Grafton Tyler (1841-1918)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Grafton Tyler Brown was a cartographer, lithographer, and painter, widely considered the first professional African American artist in California. Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1841, Brown learned lithography in Philadelphia and then became part of a cohort of African Americans who sought better economic and social opportunities in the West during the 1850s.
Sources: 
Thomas Riggs, ed., The St. James Guide to Black Artists (Detroit: St James Press, 1997); www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/exhibits/gtb.html; www.washingtonhistory.org/wshm/newsroom/grafton_brown.htm.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Howard, Rebecca Groundage (1827-1881)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Rebecca Howard, an outstanding hotelier and cook, was one of Olympia, Washington's earliest businesswomen. Born in 1827 in Philadelphia, Rebecca Groundage married Alexander Howard, a local cooper, in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1843. By 1859 Rebecca and her husband had moved to Olympia and opened a hotel and restaurant in the Pacific House on Main Street (now Capitol Way). In 1860 Rebecca Howard advertised the building as the “Pacific Restaurant.”

Memoirs of visitors to Olympia record the fine inn keeping provided by Mrs. Howard. The Howard’s hotel and restaurant was frequented by legislators and visitors to the city including President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy in 1880. When the building was razed in 1902, the Olympia Washington Standard said that the Pacific Hotel was the leading hotel on Puget Sound under “the ministration of Rebecca Howard, …whose wit and humor…made the Pacific an oasis in the then desert of travel.”

In June 1862, Mrs. Howard and her husband signed an agreement to take care of Isaac I. Stevens Glasgow, a part-Indian child of American settler Thomas Glasgow, who by most accounts was being mistreated by his father. The Howards officially adopted the child in 1877 and he took the name Frank A. Howard. Frank Howard became a leading citizen of the city, inheriting his adopted parents’ properties and investing in land and development.
Sources: 
Records of "Mrs. Rebecca H. Howard, 1862-1883.” Compiled 1999. Unpublished manuscript, available at Southwest Regional Archives, Olympia and Olympia Timberland Library.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Olympia Heritage Commission

Shorey, William Thomas (1859-1919)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Known affectionately as the Black Ahab, William Thomas Shorey was born on January 25, 1859 on the island of Barbados in the British West Indies. He was the son of a Scottish sugar planter and a West Indian woman of mixed African and European ancestry. In 1875 he shipped to Boston, Massachusetts as a cabin boy and in the next year made his maiden voyage on a whaler. Learning navigation and moving up rapidly through the ranks, Shorey came to San Francisco, California on the whaler Emma F. Herriman in 1878. After only ten years at sea he became the only African American ship captain on the west coast. In 1886 Shorey married Julia Ann Shelton, daughter of one of the leading black families in San Francisco. Together they had five children and Captain Shorey occasionally took his family to sea with him.
Sources: 
Tompkins, E. Berkeley, “Black Ahab: William T. Shorey Whaling Master,” California Historical Quarterly 51 (Spring): 75-84.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
National Park Service

Washington, Margaret Murray (1865-1925)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Margaret Murray Washington, born March 9, 1865, was one of ten children born to sharecroppers. Her father was of Irish descent and her mother was African American.  Murray attended Fisk University for eight years and graduated in 1889. The following year she became “Lady Principal” at Tuskegee Institute where she met Booker T. Washington. In 1892 she married Washington, becoming his third wife.

Murray wrote Washington’s speeches, assisted him in expanding the school, and accompanied him on lecture tours as his fame grew.  Her own presentations usually directed at audiences of African American women, promoted what she termed self-improvements in habits and hygiene.  Murray also served on Tuskegee’s executive board and later became dean of women.  In February 1892, Murray began a Tuskegee program which provided child care, education and training in literacy, home care and hygiene for women in central Alabama which she called “mother's meetings.”
Sources: 
Sources: Wilma King Hunter, “Three Women, at Tuskegee, 1825-1925: The Wives of Booker T. Washington,” Journal of Ethnic Studies 4 (September 1976); Jacqueline Anne Rouse, “Out of the Shadow of Tuskegee: Margaret Murray Washington, Social Activism, and Race Vindication,” The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 81, Vindicating the Race: Contributions to African-American Intellectual History (Winter-Autumn, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jacobs, Harriet (c.1815-1897)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born into slavery in Edenton, North Carolina, Harriet Ann Jacobs was the daughter of slaves, Delilah and Daniel Jacobs.  Harriet Jacobs is best known for her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, edited by white abolitionist Lydia Maria Child, and published in 1852.   Using the pseudonym “Linda Brent,” Jacobs tells the story of her life as a slave of a “Dr. Flint,” to whom she was willed as a young girl after her mistress died.  At this point in her young life, Harriet encountered unceasing sexual advances from Flint.  She escaped Flint’s household in 1835, but remained nearby, living in an attic for several years in order to stay near her son.  She made her final escape in 1842 and was able to reunite with her children. She settled in Rochester, New York, where she joined the network of abolitionists.  At the urging of white abolitionist Amy Post, Jacobs wrote her autobiography.  Still pursued by slave catchers, Jacobs fled to Massachusetts.
Sources: 
Jean Fagan Yellin, “Harriet Ann Jacobs,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. I (New York: Carlson, 1993), 627-29; Harriet Brent Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861); and Dorothy Sterling, ed., We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Day, Eliza Ann Dixon ( ? - 1800's)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
A member of the John Street Methodist Church and founding member of the A.M.E. Zion Church in New York City, Eliza Day combined religious devotion with abolitionist politics.  Day was an active abolitionist who established a pattern of activism for her children.

Eliza Day was a regular participant in the abolitionist movement and had been one of many to flee an abolitionist meeting at the Chatham Street Chapel in 1833 when it was attacked by a mob. For days after the incident, as anti-abolitionist mobs ravaged the city, the Days kept their home barricaded.

Eliza struggled to support her family after her husband, John, a sail maker and veteran, died at sea in 1829.  Her eldest son supplemented her meager resources by securing a job on a ship.  She was able to provide a good education for her youngest son, William Howard Day (1825-1900), who later went on to become a minister, newspaper editor, orator, and black nationalist leader.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), and R. J. M. Blackett, Beating Against the Barriers: Biographical Essays in Nineteenth-Century Afro-American History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1986).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Douglass, Sarah Mapps (1806-1882)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Born to a distinguished abolitionist family, Sarah Mapps Douglass was the only daughter of Robert Douglass, a baker, and Grace Bustill Douglass, a milliner.  Like many educated women, Sarah Douglass became a teacher.  She also was an active abolitionist and joined her mother as a founding member of the bi-racial Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833.  Over the years, Sarah served on its Board of Managers, fair committee, and as librarian and recording secretary.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), and Dorothy Sterling, ed., We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Douglass, Grace Bustill (1782-1842)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Grace Bustill Douglass, a Quaker abolitionist, was born into a distinguished black activist family in Burlington, New Jersey.  She was the fifth of eight children born to Cyrus Bustill, a baker, and Elizabeth Morey Bustill, the daughter of an Englishman and a Delaware Indian woman.  Grace’s father was the son of a slave and had baked bread for George Washington’s army during the War for American Independence.  As a child, Grace attended a school for black children in Philadelphia.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), and Dorothy Sterling, ed., We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Grimké, Francis (1850–1937)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Francis Grimké was a Presbyterian minister and a leading advocate of civil rights. He was born to a wealthy landowner, Henry Grimké and his slave mistress Nancy Weston. After his father’s death in 1852, he moved to Charleston, South Carolina where he lived as a free person until 1860 when his white half-brother, Montague, brought him into his household as a servant. After a severe beating he ran away, and for two years became a valet in the Confederate Army. He was discovered and returned to Montague who, after sending him to the workhouse as punishment, sold him to a Confederate officer.

After the fall of Charleston Grimke attended Morris Street School, a school for free blacks in the city. At age sixteen he moved north to attend Lincoln College, in Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1870 as class valedictorian whereupon he taught mathematics, served as the school's financial agent and studied law. Francis entered Howard Law School in 1874, but the following year enrolled in the Princeton Theological Seminary. Upon graduation in 1878 he became a Presbyterian minister at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., and remained at that church as pastor for the next half century.  
Sources: 
Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., Archibald Grimké, Portrait of a Black Independent (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993); “Francis Grimke,” American National Biography, Volume 9 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 627;
http://www.westminster-stl.org/Sermons/050220.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hayden, Harriet (c.1820-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Hayden House
Image Courtesy of the U.S.
National Park Service
Harriet Bell Hayden and her husband, Lewis Hayden (c.1811-1889), escaped slavery in Kentucky in 1844, traveling first to Ohio, then Michigan and finally settling in Massachusetts, where they became active abolitionists in Boston.  In addition to caring for their two children, Joseph and Elizabeth, Harriet ran a boarding house out of their home at 66 Phillips Street, while Lewis ran a successful clothing store.  

The Hayden home also served as a stop on the Underground Railroad and is now listed as a national historic site. In 1850, they assisted a fugitive slave couple, William and Ellen Craft, who had escaped from Georgia, protecting them from slave catchers on the prowl in Boston as a result of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  Lewis also led in the well-publicized rescue of Shadrach Minkins in 1851 from a Boston courthouse.  After Harriet died, part of the Hayden estate was donated to Harvard University to start a scholarship fund for African American students.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992); Stanley J. And Anita W. Robboy, “Lewis Hayden: From Fugitive Slave to Statesman,” New England Quarterly, 46 (1973): 591-613; and www.nps.gov.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Walker, Madam C. J. (Sarah Breedlove, 1867–1919)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of A'Lelia Bundles/
Walker Family Collection
Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove to former slaves, Owen and Minerva Breedlove in Delta, Louisiana on December 23, 1867.  Breedlove became an orphan at age seven when her parents died.  Three years later, ten-year-old Sarah and her sister moved across to river to Vicksburg, Mississippi to work as maids.  By her fourteenth birthday, Sarah married Moses McWilliams of Vicksburg and three years later gave birth to her only daughter Lelia (who later changed her name to A’Lelia).  Breedlove became a widow in 1887.  She and her daughter moved to St. Louis to join her older brothers who were barbers.  While in St. Louis she found work as a washer woman earning $1.50 per day.  She also married her second husband, John Davis, in 1894.  The marriage lasted nine years.
Sources: 
A’Lelia Bundles, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (New York: Scribner, 2001); Kathryn Lasky, Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker (Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2000); www.walkertheatre.com; www.madamcjwalker.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Hayden, Lewis (c.1811-1889)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lewis Hayden was born a slave in Lexington, Kentucky in 1811 into the household of the Rev. Adam Runkin, a Presbyterian minister.  In 1840 he married fellow slave, Harriet Bell (c.1811-1893).  The Haydens successfully escaped slavery in 1844.  They traveled to Ohio, Canada, Michigan, and finally settled in Boston, where they became active participants in abolitionist activities.  While Harriett ran a boarding house from their home at 66 Phillips Street and raised their two children, Joseph and Elizabeth, Lewis ran a successful clothing store on Cambridge Street, where he also held abolitionist meetings and outfitted runaway slaves. Their home, which contained a secret tunnel, served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. The Hayden home is now listed as a national historic site.

Lewis Hayden was a member of the city’s abolitionist Vigilance Committee, whose goal was to protect fugitive slaves from being captured and returned to slavery under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act.  In 1850, the Haydens assisted a fugitive slave couple, William and Ellen Craft, who had escaped from Georgia.  Lewis also led in the well-publicized rescues of Fredric Wilkins, alias Shadrach Minkins, in 1851 from a Boston courthouse, and Anthony Burns in 1854.
Sources: 
Stanley J. And Anita W. Robboy, “Lewis Hayden: From Fugitive Slave to Statesman,” New England Quarterly, 46 (1973): 591-613, and www.nps.gov.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Prince, Nancy Gardner (1799-c.1856)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Little is known about the early life of Nancy Gardner Prince, except from what she reveals in her 1853 autobiography, A Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince.  Prince was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  Her father, Thomas Gardner, was a seaman from Nantucket who died when Nancy was just three months old.  Her mother, the daughter of slaves, married several times.  Always on the brink of poverty, the death of Mony Vose, Nancy’s stepfather, was an economic disaster and led to her mother’s emotional breakdown.  Nancy and her six younger siblings picked and sold berries in order to support the family. She then left home to work as a servant for white families.

Nancy Gardner’s life changed dramatically when she married Nero Prince in 1824.  Prince was a founder of the Prince Hall Freemasons in Boston.  They traveled to Russia, where Nero worked as a footman at the court of the czar in St. Petersburg, and Nancy opened a boarding house and made and sold infant clothing.  When the Princes returned to the United States, they settled in Boston, where Nancy started a seamstress business and participated in the activities of the bi-racial Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society.  In 1840 and 1842 she went to Jamaica as a Christian missionary.  Prince often gave public lectures about her travels.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992); Bert James Loewenberg and Ruth Bogin, eds., Black Women in Nineteenth Century American Life (Univ. Park: Penn State Univ. Press, 1978); and Australia Tarver Henderson, “Nancy Gardner Prince” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. II (New York: Carlson, 1993): 946-47.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Coleridge-Taylor, Samuel (1875-1912)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Courtesy of the National
Museum of American History
Born on August 15, 1875 to a physician from Sierra Leone and an Englishwoman, musical composer and conductor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor grew-up in Holborn, England.  He revealed his musical talents at the age of five, began studying the violin at the age of seven, and entered the Royal College of Music in London at the age of fifteen.  By the mid-1890s, due largely to his association with the African American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar and inspired by the London performance of the visiting Fisk Jubilee Singers from the United States, Coleridge-Taylor begin reflecting the African American experience in his music.

By 1898 when only 23 years of age, Coleridge-Taylor was commissioned to write his Ballade in A Minor for Britain’s Three Choirs Festival.  He is perhaps best remembered for Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, the first of three parts based on poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha.  Coleridge-Taylor’s overture to this particular piece was drawn from the black American spiritual: “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.”  
Sources: 
Kwame A. Appiah & Henry Louis Gates, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999); see also African American Almanac (Detroit: Gale Research Group, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Wormley, James (1819-1884)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Washington D.C. on January 16, 1819, James Wormley was the son of free-born citizens Lynch and Mary Wormley. As a young boy, Wormley’s first job was working with his family’s hackney carriage business. This job would help Wormley gain skills and an appreciation for hard work involved in business ownership which he put to good use in post-Civil War Washington.

After owning a successful restaurant, Wormley decided to purchase a hotel in 1871 which he called the Wormley House. Located near the White House, at the southwest corner of 15th and H Streets Northwest, Wormley House soon became popular among the wealthy and politically prominent in the nation’s capital.  Wormley’s experience as caterer, club steward and traveler in Europe helped him to perfect his culinary skills while his keen eye for detail ensured that his hotel guests were satisfied during their stay. The hotel was most famous for its well-managed rooms, early telephone and the dining room where Wormley served European-style dishes.

Wormley also became active in Washington, D.C. community politics. On July 21, 1871, Wormley led a successful campaign to persuade Congress to fund the first public school for the city’s African Americans. The school, named after Wormley, was built in Georgetown at 34th and Prospect Streets.  Despite Congress’s allocation local politics delayed the opening of the school until 1885.
Sources: 
Sandra Fitzpatrick and Maria Goodwin, The Guide to Black Washington. (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1999); Nicholas E. Hollis, “A Hotel for the History Books” Washington Post, (March 18, 2001); http://www.culturaltourismdc.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Taylor, Susan (Susie) Baker King (1848-1912)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the
Library of Congress

Born on the Grest Farm in Liberty County, Georgia, on August 6, 1848, Susie Baker King Taylor was raised as an enslaved person.  Her mother was a domestic servant for the Grest family.  At the age of 7, Baker and her brother were sent to live with their grandmother in Savannah. Even with the strict laws against formal education of African Americans, they both attended two secret schools taught by black women. Baker soon became a skilled reader and writer.

By 1860, having been taught everything these two black educators could offer, Baker befriended two white individuals, a girl and boy, who also offered to teach her lessons even though they knew it violated Georgia law and custom.

Sources: 
Susie King Taylor, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp: An African American Woman’s Civil War Memoir (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Healy, Bishop James Augustine (1830-1900)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Augustine Healy was the first born of ten children to Michael and Mary Eliza Healy on April 6, 1830 on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Michael Healy was a former Irish soldier who immigrated to America. He became a planter after the war of 1812. In 1829 he fell in love with Mary Eliza, a mixed-race domestic slave, whom he purchased from her former owner. At that time Georgia law prohibited interracial marriage, but both decided that they would base their marriage on love and not the law, to create a family of their own.

However, James and his siblings were still considered illegitimate and slaves at birth under Georgia law. These laws banned them from attending school within the state, so to receive an education James’s parents sent their children to Quaker schools in the north in the 1840s.

In 1844, James Healy was sent to grammar, secondary and collegiate schools at the new Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. James graduated as valedictorian in the first graduating class of 1849. Two years later he earned a master’s degree. It was at Holy Cross where James decided to enter the priesthood. He enrolled in the Sulpician Seminary in Paris and in 1854 was ordained at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, thus becoming the first African American to be ordained a Roman Catholic priest. On his return to the United States, James began his ministry as assistant priest with the diocese of Boston where he served for the next 21 years.
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Black First: 2,000 Years of Extraordinary Achievement (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994); Albert Sidney Foley, Bishop Healy: Beloved Outcast; The Story of a Great Priest Whose Life Has Become a Legend (New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1954); http://www.castle town.com.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Chase, William Calvin (1854-1921)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
William Chase was born in 1854 to a free black family in Washington, D.C.  Chase was raised in integrated neighborhoods and attended local area schools including Howard University Law School.  Chase combined the practice of law with journalism for most of his career and was also active in Republican politics, serving as District of Columbia delegate to the party's national convention in 1900 and again in 1912.

William Chase is most well known for his nearly forty years of service as editor of the Washington Bee, a weekly publication that, during its run, was the oldest secular newspaper in continuous publication in the country.  As one of the great 19th-century editors, Chase served as a formidable “race man” and used his newspaper to voice a variety of opinions about all issues relating to African Americans and American race relations. William Chase’s Washington Bee was published weekly from 1882 through 1922 and documented extensive opposition to segregation and discrimination throughout the United States.  His newspaper fought for equal rights at a time when only a handful of black publications existed at all.  
Sources: 

Appiah, Kwame and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, Vols. 1-5 (New York: Basic  Civitas Books 2004); http://www.exploredc.org/index.php?id=381

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lafon, Thomy (1810-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Alecia P. Long, The Great Southern Babylon: Sex, Race, and Respectability in New Orleans, 1965-1920 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004); August Meier, Negro thought in America, 1880-1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington (Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988); http://odyssey-house.com; http://realtytimes.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Delany, Martin Robison (1812-1885)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Martin Robison Delany was an African American abolitionist, the first African American Field Officer in the U.S Army, and one of the earliest African Americans to encourage a return to Africa.
Sources: 
Victor Ullman, Martin R. Delany: The Beginnings of Black Nationalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971); Jim Haskins, Black Stars: African American Military Heroes (John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, NewYork, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Healy, Patrick (1834-1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Patrick Healy was one of the successful Healy siblings of the early 19th century who openly acknowledged being of part African or black ancestry. Known as the first American of acknowledged African descent to earn a doctorate, Patrick Healy was also the first African American to become a Jesuit priest and the first to become president of a major university in the United States.

Patrick Healy was born on February 2, 1834 in Macon, Georgia to an Irish American father and a mother who was a mulatto domestic slave. These loving parents wanted their children to receive a good education, which they could not receive in their home state due to laws restricting illegitimate children and slaves by birth from attending school. They were sent north to a Quaker school to be educated.

Patrick Healy and his two brothers, James and Sherwood, eventually enrolled at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Here the brothers would follow their Catholic faith and later join the priesthood.

In 1850, Patrick Healy graduated and entered a Jesuit order. He was sent to Europe to study in 1858.  Healy attended the University of Louvain in Belgium and earned his doctorate. At the same time, he was ordained to the priesthood on September 3, 1866. After he returned to the United States, Healy taught philosophy at Georgetown University. Eight years later, in 1874, Patrick Healy became the schools 29th president.
Sources: 
Albert S. Foley, Bishop Healy: Beloved Outcaste: The Story of a Great Priest Whose Life has Become a Legend (New York: Strauss and Young, 1954); God’s Men of Color: The Colored Catholic Priests of the United States, 1854-1954 (New York: Strauss and Young, 1955); http://www.library.georgetown.edu
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

McCoy, Elijah (1843-1929)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Elijah McCoy was born on May 2, 1843 in Colchester, Ontario to runaway slave parents who used the Underground Railroad to escape.  Once the McCoy family settled in Canada, they were extremely poor.  Nonetheless they saved money for their son to get an education.  When Elijah was 15 years old, he was sent to a boarding school in Edinburgh, Scotland to study mechanical engineering.

Once he returned to the United States, McCoy had a difficult time in finding a job because of his race despite his numerous credentials.  He eventually settled for a menial job as a fireman for the Michigan Central Railroad oiling the various working parts of the trains.  These tasks were slow and boring for the certified mechanical engineer who began to wonder why the moving parts of the train couldn’t oil themselves.  From this, he became interested in the challenges of self-lubrication for machines and began to test various ideas for automatic lubrication.
Sources: 
Gossie Harold Hudson, W. Sherman Jackson, Edward S. Jenkins and Exyie C. Ryder, American Black Scientists and Inventors (Washington D.C.: National Science Teachers Association, 1975); http://www.blackhistorysociety.ca/EMcCoy.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Pennington, James W. C. (1807-1870)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born into slavery on the eastern shore of Maryland in 1807, James William Charles Pennington escaped from slavery in 1828 and settled for a time in Long Island, where he studied in night school.  Devoted to black education, he became an antislavery preacher, teacher, activist, and writer.  Pennington attended classes at Yale College in New Haven, although Yale forbade him to officially enroll or to use its library.  In 1838 he officiated at the wedding of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray.  During the 1840s and 1850s he pastored African Congregational churches in Newtown, Long Island; Hartford, Connecticut; and New York City, gaining international recognition as an antislavery orator and civil rights activist.  Harriet Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom’s Cabin praised him as an exemplary African American leader.  In addition to many sermons and speeches, Pennington authored one of the first history textbooks for African American teachers, A Text Book of the Origin and History . . . of Colored People (1841) and a memoir of slavery, The Fugitive Blacksmith, or Events in the History of James W.C. Pennington (1849).
Sources: 
Pennington, James W.C., The Fugitive Blacksmith; Charles E. Wilson, Jr., “Pennington, James W. C.” in William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris, eds., The Oxford Companion to African American Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York at Buffalo

Smith, James McCune (1813-1865)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Although many twenty-first century readers are aware of his work only through his introduction to Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom, Dr. James McCune Smith was one of the most broadly accomplished black intellectuals and activists in antebellum America.  Born in New York on April 18, 1813, to a mother who purchased her own freedom and a father who may have been a freed slave or a white merchant, Smith attended the African Free School in New York City, where at the age of eleven he was chosen to give an address to the Marquis de Lafayette (1824).  

Upon graduation from the African Free School, James McCune Smith sought but was denied admission to several American colleges.  He then managed to raise money to attend the University of Glasgow in Scotland, where, after completing bachelor’s and masters’ degrees, he completed a medical degree in 1837. Thus he became, as far as can be determined, the first African American to be awarded a degree in medicine.  After completing a medical internship in Paris, he returned to New York City, where he opened a medical office and a pharmacy that attracted interracial clientele on West Broadway.
Sources: 
James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, and Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); John Stauffer, The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001); John Stauffer, ed., The Works of James McCune Smith: Black Intellectual and Abolitionist (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York at Buffalo

James, Jane Elizabeth Manning (1813-1908)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Jane Manning James Among Mormon Pioneers,
Salt Lake City, 1894
Image Courtesy of the Church Archives,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Jane Elizabeth Manning was born in Wilton, Connecticut, one of five children of Isaac and Phyllis Manning, a free black family.  Although Jane was a member of the local Presbyterian Church, she remained spiritually unfulfilled until 1842 when she heard the message of a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/"Mormons").  Soon afterwards she joined the Mormon Church.  One year following her conversion, Jane Elizabeth and several family members who had also converted decided to move to Nauvoo, Illinois, the headquarters of the Mormon Church.  After traveling by boat to Buffalo, New York, the African American Mormons, unable to pay additional fares, began an eight-hundred-mile journey by foot to Nauvoo. In Nauvoo, Jane lived and worked in the home of Joseph Smith, Jr. the founder of the LDS Church and his wife, Emma.    
Sources: 
Ronald G. Coleman, “Is There No Blessing for Me?,” Jane Elizabeth Manning James, A Mormon African American Woman, in Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Moore Wilson, eds., African American Women Confront the West, 1600-2000 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

Brown, William Wells (1814?-1884)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Wells Brown was an African American antislavery lecturer, groundbreaking novelist, playwright and historian.  He is widely considered to have been the first African American to publish works in several major literary genres. Known for his continuous political activism especially in his involvement with the anti-slavery movement, Brown is widely acclaimed for the effectiveness of many of his writings.  

Brown was born to a white father and enslaved mother on a plantation outside of Lexington, Kentucky, most likely in 1814.  He spent his childhood and much of his young adult life as a slave in St. Louis, Missouri working a variety of trades.  Brown slipped away from his owner's steamboat while it was docked in Cincinnati and thereafter declared himself a free man on New Year’s Day 1834.  Shortly thereafter he was taken in and helped to safety by Mr. and Mrs. Wells Brown, a white Quaker family. William would adopt their names in respect for the help they provided him.   

William Wells Brown settled briefly in Cleveland, Ohio where he married a free African American woman.  They had two daughters.  Later Brown moved his family to Buffalo, New York where he spent nine years working both as a steamboat worker on Lake Erie and a conductor for the Underground Railroad.  
Sources: 
William E. Farrison, William Wells Brown: Author and Reformer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969); Paul Jefferson, The Travels of William Wells Brown (New York: Markus Wiener, 1991); Herb Boyd, Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African American History Told by Those Who Lived It (New York: Doubleday, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Leftwich, John C. (1867-1923)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

John Carter Leftwich was born on June 6, 1867 in Forkland, Alabama.  The first son of Frances Edge and Lloyd Leftwich, one of Alabama’s last black Reconstruction Era state senators, John graduated from Selma University in 1890.  As a young man, Leftwich held a deep admiration for Booker T. Washington, and wrote to him constantly for aid and advice.  In 1897, possibly with Washington’s support, Leftwich was appointed Alabama’s Receiver of Public Money by President William McKinley.  During this time Leftwich also founded an all-black town named Klondike.  In 1902, however, Leftwich lost the support of Washington.  Later that year Alabama blacks were disfranchised.  These events led Leftwich to migrate to Oklahoma Territory to begin anew.

Sources: 
Melissa Stuckey, “‘All Men Up’: Race, Rights, and Power in the All Black Town of Boley, Oklahoma, 1903-1939” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Yale University, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Grimke, Archibald (1849-1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Moorland-Spingarn
Research Center, Howard University
Archibald Grimke was a leading intellectual, activist, and author on racial equality in early 20th Century America. Grimke was born into slavery, the son of Nancy Weston, a slave, and Henry Grimke, her owner. After his father's death, he and his brother Francis spent eight years living as freemen before his half-brother, Montague, took them as servants into his home in 1860. After suffering beatings at Montague's hand Archibald fled and hid with relatives until Charleston fell to Union forces in 1865.

Archibald Grimke attended Lincoln College in Pennsylvania, and in 1872 became one of the first African American students at Harvard Law School. Upon graduation he established a law practice in Boston, where he became an ardent supporter of suffrage for women and African Americans. From 1894 to 1898 he was consul to Santo Domingo (The Dominican Republic). In 1903 Grimke became president of the American Negro Academy, the nation's preeminent black intellectual society, a role he held until 1919.
Sources: 
Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., Archibald Grimke, Portrait of a Black Independent (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Crumpler , Rebecca Davis Lee (1831?-1895)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
For many years Dr. Rebecca Cole was considered to be the first black woman physician.  However, historical research has shown that the honor rightly belongs to Dr. Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler who completed her M.D. in 1864, three years before Dr. Cole.  

Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler was born free around 1831 to Absolum and Matilda Davis in Delaware.  She was raised by an aunt in Pennsylvania who is noted to have provided health care to her neighbors.  In 1852 Davis was living in Charlestown, Massachusetts where she worked as a nurse for eight years.  She enrolled in the New England Female Medical College in 1860.  Her acceptance at the college was highly unusual as most medical schools at that time it did not admit African Americans.  Despite its reluctance, the faculty awarded Davis her medical doctorate.  That year she also married Arthur Crumpler.

Dr. Crumpler practiced medicine in Boston and specialized in the care of women, children, and the poor.  She moved to Richmond, Virginia in 1865 to minister to freedpeople through the Freedmen’s Bureau.  Crumpler returned to Boston in 1869 where she practiced from her home on Beacon Hill and dispensed nutritional advice to poor women and children.  In 1883 she published a medical guide book, Book of Medical Discourses, which primarily gave advice for women in the health care of their families.  
Sources: 
Sarah K. A. Pfatteicher, "Crumpler, Rebecca Davis Lee," American National Biography Online, Feb. 2000.; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/partners/early/e_pioneers_crumpler.html; http://rlsonline.org/53350_12922.asp
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Chesnutt, Charles Waddell (1858-1932)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles Waddell Chesnutt was born the son of free black parents on June 20, 1858 in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents had recently moved to Cleveland from Fayetteville, North Carolina in response to the growing restrictions placed on free blacks in that slave state.
By 1866, Chesnutt worked part time in the family store while regularly attending Cleveland’s Howard School for Blacks.  

In 1872 Chesnutt was forced to end his formal education at the age of fourteen because he had to help support his parents.  However, the school’s principal invited him to stay at the school as a distinguished pupil-teacher and turn his modest salary over to his father.  

By sixteen, Chesnutt was employed in Charlotte, North Carolina as a full-time teacher and in 1877, returned to Fayetteville, North Carolina as the assistant principal of Howard School.  In 1880 Chesnutt became the school’s principal.

In search of more lucrative employment, Chesnutt resigned his school-administrator post in 1883 and moved to New York City where he worked as a stenographer and journalist on Wall Street.  By 1887, Chesnutt returned to Cleveland and was admitted to the Ohio Bar.   As a teacher, lawyer, businessman and writer, Chesnutt was a prominent member of Cleveland’s African American elite.  By 1900, however, Chesnutt gave up his business and professional life to write and lecture full-time.
Sources: 
Helen Chesnutt, Charles Waddell Chesnutt, Pioneer of the Color Line (North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1952); Linda Metzger, Black Writers: A Selection of Sketches from Contemporary Authors (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Still, William (1821-1902)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Still was born in Burlington County, New Jersey in 1821, as the last of eighteen children of former slaves Levin and Charity Still. By 1844, Still moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he spent the majority of his life and where he was appointed secretary of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. Still was the first black man to join the society and the first to hold this position.

Still was also active in the Underground Railroad in the two decades between his arrival in Philadelphia and the end of the Civil War.  Still became well known in various circles as a major “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, helping fugitives make their way to Canada and freedom.  Still also campaigned for an end to racial discrimination in Philadelphia.  In 1859 he organized the effort to end black exclusion from Philadelphia streetcars.  This campaign was described in Still’s first publication, Struggle for the Civil Rights of the Coloured People of Philadelphia in the City Railway Cars in 1867.
Sources: 
Kwame Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, Vols. 1-5 (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004); http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASstill.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Purvis, Robert (1810-1898)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Robert Purvis was born on August 4, 1810 in Charleston, South Carolina, the second of three sons to a wealthy cotton broker and a free woman of color.  With the benefits of a financially successful family, Purvis began his opposition to slavery at a very young age.  When Purvis was nine, his father moved the family to Philadelphia where Purvis attended the Pennsylvania Abolition Society’s Clarkson School.  Shortly thereafter, Purvis continued his education at Amherst College in Massachusetts.  

In 1831, Robert Purvis married Harriet Forten, the daughter of Philadelphia African American businessman and abolitionist James Forten. The death of Purvis’s father left his family financially stable and enabled Purvis to commit his efforts entirely to his antislavery activity.  He began to work very closely with the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee which sheltered runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad.  His residence soon became know as the Purvis “safe house.”  
Sources: 
Kwame Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, Vols. 1-5 (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004); Margaret Bacon, But One Race: The Life of Robert Purvis (New York: Albany State University press, 2007); Herb Boyd, Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African American History Told by Those Who Lived It (New York: Doubleday, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Andry’s Rebellion (1811)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Named after the owner of the plantation where the event originated, the revolt of 400-500 slaves in the parishes of the Andry plantation caused uproar in New Orleans. Led by a Saint Domingue slave named Charles Deslondes, the uprising was built on the fear generated by the Haitian Revolution of 1791, coupled with the large population of free Negroes to further accentuate the tension in New Orleans.
Sources: 
Mary Francis Berry, : Black Resistance White Law: A History of Constitutional Racism in America (Appleton Century Crofts: New York, 1971).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Walters, Bishop Alexander (1858-1917)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Alexander Walters was born in 1858 into a slave family in Bardstown, Kentucky, the sixth of eight children.  By the age of ten, Walters had shown such academic progress that he was awarded by the African Episcopal Zion Church a full scholarship to attend private schooling. In 1877 at the age of nineteen, Walters received his license to preach and began his pastoral duties in Indianapolis, Indiana. In his career as a pastor, Walter served in cities across the country including Louisville, San Francisco, Portland (Oregon), Chattanooga, Knoxville and New York. In 1892, as a minister at the Seventh District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Walters was selected as bishop.  

In 1898, Bishop Alexander Walters began to devote his attention to the ongoing African American civil rights struggle.  In partnership with T. Thomas Fortune, the editor of the New York Age, Walters founded the National Afro-American Council and served as its president.  This organization focused primarily on challenging racially discriminatory legislation and in particular the “separate but equal” Plessy vs. Ferguson U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1896.  Walters also challenged Booker T. Washington’s ideas of accommodation to segregation and discrimination.  
Sources: 
Kwame Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, Vols. 1-5 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Randall Burkett and Richard Newman, eds., Black Apostles: Afro-American Clergy Confront the Twentieth Century (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1978).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Burns, Anthony (1834-1862)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
The youngest of 13 children, Anthony Burns was born May 31, 1834 into slavery; his family was owned by the Suttle family of Virginia. His mother married three times; Burns’s father was her third husband. Burns’s father died when his last child was very young.

A few years later their owner, John Suttle, died leaving his wife with financial problems which prompted her to sell five of Burns’s siblings. To gain more income, she hired out the remaining siblings including Anthony. Burns performed a variety of jobs including personal servant, sawmill worker and tavern employee. He also was given the responsibility of managing four other slaves owned by Mrs. Suttle; he was allowed this freedom as long as he paid his master a fee from his earnings.

In March of 1854, Burns escaped from his master in Virginia and boarded a ship to Boston. When he arrived in Boston he found employment with a clothing store operated by Lewis Hayden, an abolitionist.

His freedom was short-lived, however.  On May 24, 1854, Burns was arrested under the Fugitive Slave Act, a component of the Compromise of 1850. This controversial federal law allowed owners to reclaim escaped slaves by presenting proof of ownership.
Sources: 
Joseph Meredith Toner, Boston Slave Riot, and Trial of Anthony Burns: Containing the Report of the Faneuil Hall (Detroit: Fetridge and Company, 1854); http://pbs.org; http://www.masshist.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Walker, Maggie Lena (1867-1934)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Maggie Lena Mitchell was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1867 to parents who were former slaves.  Walker’s mother, Elizabeth Draper Mitchell, was an assistant cook and father William Mitchell a butler in a mansion own by the Van Lew family. As a young girl she was forced to take on a number of responsibilities after the tragic death of her father. Mitchell worked as a delivery woman and babysitter while attending segregated public schools in Richmond. Nonetheless Mitchell graduated at the very top of her class in 1883. She then taught grade school for three years at the Lancaster School, at the same time she took classes in accounting and business.

In 1886, Maggie Mitchell married Armistead Walker, Jr., a wealthy black contractor and member of her church. They had two sons, Russell and Melvin, whom she took care while her husband worked.
Sources: 

Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004); http://www.nps.gov/malw/details.htm.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Loguen, Jermain Wesley (1813-1872)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Jermain Wesley Loguen was born on February 5, 1813 into slavery in Tennessee.  His mother was owned by Loguen’s father and master.  In 1834, Loguen escaped from bondage and fled to St. Catherine’s, Ontario where he stayed briefly before finding his way to Rochester, New York where, in 1837, he enrolled in Beriah Green’s Oneida Institute.  By 1840, Loguen, now an African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) minister, had married and moved to Syracuse to lead a church.  Loguen stayed only briefly in Syracuse, New York before he spent three of the next few years at Bath, Maine and another two in Ithaca, New York serving as an AME Zion minister

Loguen was also an active school teacher and a “conductor” in the Underground Railroad.  Settling permanently in Syracuse, Loguen built apartments on his privately owned property to serve as hiding posts and lodging for freedom seekers or runaway slaves.  Many historians agree that Loguen’s own home was a widely known station on the Underground Railroad and his basement was fitted with bunks and other equipment for fugitive slaves.

In 1869 Loguen’s daughter, Amelia, married Lewis Douglass, the son of orator, author and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.  Another daughter, Marinda S. Loguen, later known as Sarah Loguen, graduated from the Syracuse University College of Medicine in 1876, becoming one of the first African American women in the country to practice medicine.  
Sources: 
Carol Hunter, To Set the Captives Free: Reverend Jermain Wesley Loguen and the Struggle for Freedom in Central New York, 1835-1872 (New York: Garland, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Minkins, Shadrach (1814?-1875)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Born into slavery in Norfolk, Virginia (the actual year is uncertain), Shadrach Minkins spent the first thirty years of his life in his hometown, but in May of 1850 he decided to run for freedom and escaped to Boston, where he became a waiter.

At that time, about 2,500 blacks lived in Boston. Runaway slaves found refuge there with fellow runaways, and a population of active black and white abolitionists. Most slaves who reached Boston expected the strong anti-slavery community would protect them and that they would be able to hide or blend in without being recaptured. The other option for fugitives was to pass through Boston to another safe location using the Underground Railroad.

The Fugitive Slave Act, part of the Compromise of 1850, however, undermined Boston’s reputation as a save haven.  This law allowed slave owners, or their representatives, to reclaim runaway slaves, with proof of ownership, throughout the United States.  Slave-catching now carried the force of law which meant all law-enforcement agencies throughout the North were required to assist those seeking fugitives. Law enforcement officers were required to arrest and hold any suspected fugitives and assist their return to slaveholders.  

On February 15, 1851, Minkins was captured by two Boston police officers while he worked at Taft’s Cornhill Coffee House. While he was being taken to the courthouse, word spread and hundreds of black and white abolitionists crowded into the courthouse.
Renowned abolitionist lawyers Robert Morris, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Ellis Gray Loring, and Samuel E. Sewall came to Minkins’ assistance, but under the Fugitive Slave Act, his seizure was legal.
Sources: 
Gary Lee Collison, Shadrach Minkins: From Fugitive Slave to Citizen (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Scarborough, William S. (1852-1926)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William S. Scarborough was born in 1852 in Macon, Georgia to a free black father and a multiracial mother, who was enslaved.  Scarborough learned to read and write from his white neighbors and a free black family in Macon.  He continued his education in Macon’s Lewis High School and then attended college at Atlanta University before completing his education at Oberlin College in 1875.   

Scarborough returned to Lewis High School where he taught classical languages.  He met Sarah Bierce, a white missionary, who was then Principal and who would eventually become his wife in 1881.  Scarborough left Lewis High School when arsonists burned it to the ground.  After a brief period as Principal of Payne Institute in Cokesburg, South Carolina, Scarborough returned to Oberlin to complete a master’s degree.  

In 1877, twenty-five year old Scarborough became a professor of Latin and Greek at Wilberforce University in Xenia, Ohio.  To help his students Scarborough wrote a textbook, First Lessons in Greek.  The book was published in 1881 and eventually became widely used in colleges and universities throughout the nation including Yale University.  Scarborough published a second book, Birds of Aristophanes in 1886.  
Sources: 
William S. Scarborough and Ronnick Michele, The Autobiography of William Saunders Scarborough: An American Journey From Slavery To Scholarship (Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Rock, John S. (1825-1866)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John S. Rock was born to free black parents in Salem, New Jersey in 1825. He attended public schools in New Jersey until he was 19 and then worked as a teacher between 1844 and 1848.  During this period Rock began his medical studies with two white doctors. Although he was initially denied entry, Rock was finally accepted into the American Medical College in Philadelphia.  He graduated in 1852 with a medical degree. While in medical school Rock practiced dentistry and taught classes at a night school for African Americans.  In 1851 he received a silver medal for the creation of an improved variety of artificial teeth and another for a prize essay on temperance.   

At the age of 27, Rock, a teacher, doctor and dentist, moved to Boston in 1852 to open a medical and dental office. He was commissioned by the Vigilance Committee, an organization of abolitionists, to treat fugitive slaves’ medical needs. During this period Dr. Rock increasingly identified with the abolitionist movement and soon became a prominent speaker for that cause.  While he called on the United States government to end slavery, he also urged educated African Americans to use their talents and resources to assist their community.  
Sources: 
John A Garraty and Jerome Sternstein, eds., Encyclopedia of American Biography, 2nd edition (New York: Harper Collins, 1996); Carter, Purvis, “The Negro in Periodical Literature, Part III,” Journal of Negro History (July 1967) 92-102; http://www.nj.gov/state/history/rock.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Greenfield, Elizabeth Taylor (1819-1876)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Manuscripts,
Archives and Rare Books Division,
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture,
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and
Tilden Foundations

Born a slave in 1819 in Natchez, Mississippi, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield had little reason to dream of the life that would eventually become her own.  Because of a series of unlikely circumstances and her own relentless efforts she would eventually become known as the first African American singer to gain recognition in both Europe and the United States.
Sources: 
No Author Given, The Black Swan at Home and Abroad; or A Biographical Sketch of Miss Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield (Philadelphia: W.S. Young, Printer, 1855); Edward T. and Janet W. James, eds., Notable American Women: 1607-1950; A Biographical Dictionary Vol. II (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), pp. 87-89.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Vermont

Historically Black Colleges and Universities of Atlanta

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Spelman Students, 1895
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In the following article by Alton Hornsby, Jr., the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of History at Morehouse College and former editor of the Journal of Negro History, briefly describes the founding of Atlanta University (Georgia), Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University), Morehouse College, Spelman College, Morris Brown College and the Gammon Theological Seminary.  This article originally appeared in the Program of the American Historical Association for its Atlanta Meeting in 2007 as “The Historically Black Colleges of Atlanta.”
Sources: 
American Historical Association,  Atlanta and Historians: 121st Annual Meeting, January 4-7, 2007  (Washington, D.C.: The American Historical Association, 2007), pp. 34-35.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Morehouse College

Denmark Vesey Conspiracy of 1822

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Book Describing the
Denmark Vesey Plot, 1822
Image Ownership: Public Domain
After one loyal slave told his master about a plot to seize the city of Charlestown, South Carolina and kill all the whites, local authorities exposed the most comprehensive slave plot in the history of the United States.  More than 1,000 free and enslaved blacks intended to be a part of this uprising which was planned for sometime in July 1822. Denmark Vesey, a free black carpenter and Methodist leader, used his position to organize blacks, who were especially angry about the recent decision to suppress their African Church. South Carolina authorities moved swiftly once the plot was uncovered and Vesey and 36 of his co-conspirators were hanged after a dubious trial. Their executions were accompanied by a massive demonstration of support from defiant free and enslaved blacks that required local militia and federal troops to restore order.

Historical speculation about whether this event was a genuine slave plot or an exaggeration brought on by white panic continues to this day. Evidence brought to the trial indicated extensive correspondence between the accused slaves including names, places, times, numbers, dates and other specific information, all of which points more to conspiracy than unfounded panic among whites.
Sources: 
Robert S. Starobin, Denmark Vesey: The Slave Conspiracy of 1822 (Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1970); http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3p2976.html
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Crummell, Alexander (1819-1898)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Alexander Crummell, an Episcopalian priest, missionary, scholar and teacher, was born in New York City in 1819 to free black parents.  He spent much of his life addressing the conditions of African Americans while urging an educated black elite to aspire to the highest intellectual attainments as a refutation of the theory of black inferiority.

Crummell began his education at an integrated school in New Hampshire. He later transferred to an abolitionist institute in Whitesboro, New York where he learned both the classics and manual labor skills. However, after being denied admittance to the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church because of his race, Crummell was forced to study privately.  Nonetheless at the age of 25 he became an Episcopalian minister. 

From 1848 to 1853 Crummell lectured and studied in England.  He also graduated from Queens’ College, Cambridge University in 1853.  Crummell left England to become an educator in Liberia, accepting a faculty position at Liberia College in Monrovia.  From his new post, Crummell urged African Americans to emigrate to Liberia.
Sources: 
Jeremiah Moses, Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent (Oxford University Press, 1989);
Pbs.org/wnet/aaword/reference/articles/Alexander_crummell.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

American Negro Academy (1897-1924)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
American Negro Academy Members
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Founded on March 5, 1897 in Washington, D.C. by 78-year-old Reverend Alexander Crummell, the American Negro Academy (ANA) was an organization of black intellectuals who through their scholarship and writing were dedicated to the promotion of higher education, arts, and science for African Americans as part of the overall struggle for racial equality. The American Negro Academy brought together persons of African ancestry from around the world and was the first society of blacks that would specifically promote the “Talented Tenth” ideas later articulated by founding member W.E.B. DuBois. An all-male organization, the ANA consisted of those with backgrounds in law, medicine, literature, religion, and community activism.  Their collective goal, however, was to “lead and protect their people” and to be a “weapon to secure equality and destroy racism.”
Sources: 
John F. Marszalek, Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Present (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Yates, Josephine Silone (1852-1912)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Teacher, writer and civil rights activist Josephine Silone, the youngest daughter of Alexander and Parthenia Reeve-Silone, was born in Mattiluck on Long Island, New York in 1852.  At age eleven, Yates moved to Philadelphia to live with her uncle, Rev. J.B. Reeve, in hopes of finding greater educational opportunity. There she attended the Institute of Colored Youth run by Fannie Jackson Coppin. By the time Silone was old enough to attend high school, an aunt invited her to live and go to school in Newport, Rhode Island. Silone, the only black student in her class and the first to graduate from Rogers High School in Newport in 1877, was selected class valedictorian.  Silone’s high school teachers encouraged her to attend a university but instead she chose Rhode Island State Normal School, a teacher’s college and again graduated as the only African American student in 1879.

After passing the Rhode Island State Teacher Certification, Silone moved to Jefferson City, Missouri to begin teaching at Lincoln Institute (later Lincoln University) and to head the Department of Natural Sciences. She resigned in 1889 to marry Professor W.W. Yates, then the principal of the Wendell Phillips School in Kansas City.  Josephine Silone Yates, who also taught at the Phillips School, soon became known and admired as one of the best teachers in the state of Missouri.  
Sources: 
Daniel Wallace Culp, Twentieth Century Negro Literature: Or, A Cyclopedia of Thought on the Vital Topics Relating to The American Negro (Palo Alto, California:  J. L. Nichols & Company, 1902).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brown, Hallie Quinn (1850-1949)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Teacher, writer and women’s activist Hallie Quinn Brown was born on March 10, 1850 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the daughter of former slaves who in 1864 migrated to Ontario, Canada.  The Brown family returned to the United States in 1870, settling in Wilberforce, Ohio.  Brown attended Wilberforce College and received a degree in 1873.  She then taught in freedman’s schools in Mississippi before moving to Columbia, South Carolina in 1875 where she served briefly as an instructor in the city’s public schools.  By September 1875 she joined the faculty at Allen University.  Brown taught at Allen between 1875 and 1885 and then for the next two years (1885-1887) served as Dean of the University.  Brown also served as Dean of Women at Tuskegee Institute during the 1892-1893 school year before returning to Ohio where she taught in the Dayton public schools.     

Brown had since childhood held an interest in public speaking.  In 1866 she graduated from the Chautauqua Lecture School.  By the time she began working at Allen University Brown was already developing a reputation as a powerful orator for the causes of temperance, women’s suffrage and civil rights.  In 1895 Hallie Q. Brown addressed an audience at the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Conference in London.  In 1899, while serving as one of the United States representatives, she spoke before the International Congress of Women meeting in London.  Brown also spoke before Queen Victoria.
Sources: 
Hazel V. Carby, Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Turner, Benjamin Sterling (1825-1894)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benjamin Sterling Turner, a member of the United States House of Representatives from Alabama during the Reconstruction period, was born on March 17, 1825 in Weldon, North Carolina. He was raised as a slave and as a child received no formal education. In 1830 Turner moved to Selma, Alabama with his mother and slave owner. While living on the plantation he surreptitiously obtained an education and by age 20 Turner was able to read and write fluently. 

While still a slave Turner managed a hotel and stable in Selma.  Although his owner received most of the money for Turner’s work, he managed to save some of his earnings and shortly after the Civil War he used the savings he had accumulated to purchase the property.   The U.S. Census of 1870 reported Turner as owning $2,500 in real estate and $10,000 in personal property, making him one of the wealthiest freedmen in Alabama.

Turner also became a teacher in 1865 and helped establish the first school for African American children.  Two years later he became involved in politics.  After participating in the Republican State Convention in 1867, Turner was named tax collector of Dallas County  The following year he won his first elective office when he became a Selma City Councilman.  In 1870 Turner was elected to the United States Congress as the first African American Representative in Alabama history. 
Sources: 
Stephen Middleton, ed., Black Congressmen During Reconstruction (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002); http://bioguide.congress.gov
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Dunbar-Nelson, Alice Ruth Moore (1875-1935)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Manuscripts, Archives
and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center
for Research in Black Culture,
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox
and Tilden Foundations
Alice Ruth Moore, educator, author and social activist, was born on July 19, 1875 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Patricia (Wright) Moore and Monroe Moore.  She attended public school in New Orleans and enrolled in the teacher training program at Straight University in that city in 1890. Two years later she graduated and began teaching in New Orleans.    
Sources: 
Eleanor Alexander, Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow, The Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore (New York: Penguin Group, 2001); Patsy B. Perry, “Alice Dunbar-Nelson,”  in J.C. Smith, ed., Notable Black American Women (Detroit: Gale  Research, 1992); The Alice Dunbar-Nelson Papers, University of Delaware.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Hyman, John Adams (1840-1891)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Adams Hyman was born into slavery on July 23, 1840 in Warren County, North Carolina. Hyman's thirst for knowledge resulted in him being sold away from his family for attempting to read a spelling book that was given to him by a sympathetic white jeweler. He continued to seek knowledge at his new residence in Alabama and was sold again for fear that he would influence other slaves. Hyman was sold eight more times for his attempts to educate himself.  

At the age of 25 Hyman was freed by the Thirteenth Amendment and returned to his family in North Carolina. He quickly enrolled in school where he received an elementary education. Hyman also became a landowner and merchant.  Hyman, a Mason, soon emerged as a leader of the post-Civil War North Carolina black community.  

By 1868 John Hyman was an active member of the Republican Party.  Despite intimidation attempts by the Ku Klux Klan, Hyman and 132 other Republicans were elected to a constitutional convention which crafted a new constitution for the state of North Carolina.  The Constitution called for public education available to all students and voting rights for African American men.   
Sources: 
Stephen Middleton, ed. Black Congressmen During Reconstruction (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002); George W. Reid, “Four in Black: North Carolina’s Black Congressmen, 1874-1901” Journal of Negro History 64 (Summer 1979): 229-43; http://bioguide.congress.gov.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Joplin, Scott (1867-1917)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Scott Joplin, a musician and composer of ragtime music, was born in 1867 to ex-slave parents who worked as laborers on a Texas farm.  At an early age they moved to Texarkana, on the Texas-Arkansas border, and it was here, following his mother as she cleaned the houses of white families, that Scott was exposed to the piano and learned to play.  When his talent was recognized he was formally instructed by a German music teacher.

By the 1880s Joplin was living in Sedalia, Missouri, and playing in bands from St. Louis to Chicago as a cornet player.  While in Sedalia he played piano and in 1896 enrolled in George R. Smith College, a small black institution in Sedalia, to improve his musical abilities.  In 1898 Joplin published his first ragtime composition, Original Rags.  The following year he hired a lawyer before publishing his next and most famous song, The Maple Leaf Rag.  Joplin and his attorney negotiated with publisher John Stark, a one cent royalty for every sale which provided him an income far greater than most composers of the day.  By 1902 Joplin had moved to St. Louis and published several more compositions including The Entertainer and The Ragtime Dance.
Sources: 
Michael Erlewine, All Music Guide to Jazz (San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 1998); http://www.scottjoplin.org/biography.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

O’Hara, James Edward (1844-1905)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public domain
North Carolina congressman James O'Hara was born a free person in New York City to an Irish merchant and West Indian mother. While growing up he worked as a deckhand on ships that sailed between New York and the West Indies.  When he was eighteen O’Hara settled Halifax County, North Carolina with a group of missionaries.  

After the Civil War, James O’Hara taught at freedman’s schools in New Bern and Goldsboro, North Carolina. O'Hara also studied law at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Shortly after North Carolina’s 1868 Constitutional Convention which reorganized state government and authorized black male voting, O'Hara was elected to the North Carolina state legislature.  In 1871, while still in the legislature, he completed his law apprenticeship and passed the North Carolina bar exam.  In 1878 O’Hara won the Republican nomination for North Carolina’s heavily black Second Congressional District.  He lost the general election to white Democrat William Hodges Kitchin. Four years later, in 1882, O'Hara again faced Kitchin and won the election by 18,000 votes.  He was reelected in 1884.
Sources: 
Stephen Middleton, ed., Black Congressmen During Reconstruction (Westport, Connecticut : Praeger, 2002); George W. Reid, “Four in Black: North Carolina’s Black Congressmen, 1874-1901.” Journal of Negro History 64 (Summer 1979); http://bioguide.congress.gov; http://ead.lib.uchicago.edu.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Juneteenth: The Birth of an African American Holiday

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
General Order No. 3, Texas Emancipation
Proclamation, June 19, 1865
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In a brief 1992 article for the Eugene Register Guard Quintard Taylor explains the origins of the Juneteenth holiday. Part of that article is reprinted below.

Freedom came in many guises to the four million African Americans who had been enslaved at the beginning of the Civil War. Some fortunate black women and men were emancipated as early as 1861 when Union forces captured outlying areas of the Confederacy such as the Sea Islands of South Carolina, the Tidewater area of Virginia (Hampton and Norfolk) or New Orleans from 1861 onward. Other black slaves emancipated themselves by exploiting the disruption of war to run away to freedom, which in some instances was as close as the nearest Union Army camp. President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation liberated all blacks residing in territory captured from the Confederates after January 1, 1863. These slaves did not have to run for their freedom, they merely had to wait for Federal troops to arrive.

Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, "The Juneteenth Celebration, 1865-1992," Eugene Register-Guard, June 8, 1992, pp. 1D, 4D.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Corrothers, James David (1869-1917)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Michigan in 1869, James David Corrothers became an important literary figure in the 1890s. Corrothers grew up in South Haven, a southern Michigan town established by abolitionists, fugitive slaves, and free blacks during the years before the civil war. For a time he was the only African American child in the town who attended public school on a regular basis and he often recalled confrontations with fellow white students.  

Corrothers was raised by his grandfather.  He and his grandfather moved to Muskegon when Corrothers was fourteen where he worked odd jobs to support the two of them.    When his grandfather died two years later in 1885 Corrothers moved to Indiana and then Springfield, Ohio. He waited tables, worked as a lumberjack and for a time as an amateur boxer all by his 18th birthday.  

Corrothers moved to Chicago in 1887 where he met journalist-reformer Henry Demarest Lloyd.  After reading some of Corrothers’s poetry, Lloyd persuaded the Chicago Tribune to hire the young writer.  Corrothers eventually received an assignment to write on Chicago’s black upper class. When the article he submitted was rewritten by a white reporter in black “dialect,” Corrothers quit the paper in protest.   With support from temperance leader Francis Willard and Lloyd, Corrothers entered Northwestern University in 1890.  Although he left before earning a degree, Corrothers was now sought by the major Chicago daily newspapers.  
Sources: 
Kevin K. Gaines, Uplifting The Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in The Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., Black American Writing from the Nadir: The Evolution of a Literary Tradition, 1877–1915 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1989).   
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Neal, William “Curly” (1849 –1936)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
William Curly Neal with Granddaughter
(Photo Courtesy of the Oracle Historical Society)
William “Curly” Neal helped turn a frontier western mining camp in the Santa Catalina Mountains of Arizona into a booming town that attracted businessmen and financiers, elite vacationers, and royals from around the world. His various business ventures as a teamster, passenger and freight hauler, rancher, hotelier, and entrepreneur point toward the pioneering spirit that helped him settle Oracle, Arizona Territory and become one of the areas wealthiest citizens.

Neal was born in 1849 in Tahlequah in the Cherokee Nation. His father was of African American descent and his mother, a Native American, had walked the Trail of Tears. Not much is known about his childhood other than he ran away from home at age seven following the death of his parents. For a time Curly, so called because of his long black curls, lived in and around railway stations doing odd jobs to support himself. At age nineteen he had the good fortune of meeting Colonel W. F. Cody and found steady employment as a military scout during the Indian Wars in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Arizona. He survived numerous skirmishes so proven by multiple arrow and bullet wounds. Wild Buffalo Bill Cody, three years his senior, remained a lifelong friend.
Sources: 

Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, CT: TwoDot, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Barbara Marriott, Annie’s Guests – Tales from a Frontier Hotel. (Tucson, Arizona: Catymatt Productions, 2002). Donald N. Bentz, “The Oracle Historian.” (Oracle, Arizona: Oracle Historical Society, Summer, 1982 V5, Winter, 1984-85 V7, Summer 1983 V6, Spring, 1988 V7).

Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Johnson, Halle Tanner Dillon (1864–1901)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson was the first female physician to pass the Alabama state medical examination and was the first woman physician at Tuskegee Institute.  She was the eldest of nine children born to African Methodist Episcopal bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner and Sarah Elizabeth Miller in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1864.  Her brother, Henry Ossawa Tanner, became a noted artist.  Shortly after Halle was born the Tanners moved to Philadelphia where the children were educated.    

In the middle 1880s Halle Tanner worked with her father on the AME Church Review.  In 1886 she married Charles E. Dillon and the two moved to Trenton, New Jersey where they had a daughter, Sadie.  Charles Dillon died of an unknown cause and Halle Tanner Dillon moved back to Philadelphia to live with her parents.  Tanner decided to become a physician and enrolled at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.  The only African American woman in her class, Tanner graduated with an M.D. and high honors after three years of study in 1891.  While at the college, she learned of a job opportunity as resident physician at Tuskegee Institute.  She contacted Booker T. Washington, the Principal of Tuskegee.  Washington appointed her and helped her prepare for the Alabama state medical examination.
Sources: 
Darlene Hine, Black Women in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), Dorothy Sterling, We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984), http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_172.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Grier, Eliza Ann ( ? - 1902)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Eliza Ann Grier was born a slave, but became emancipated and eventually earned her M.D., becoming in 1898 the first African American woman to practice medicine in Georgia.  Little is known of Grier’s early life beyond her growing up in Atlanta.  In 1883, nearly 20 years after her emancipation, Grier entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee with the goal of becoming a teacher.  She earned a degree in education from Fisk eight years later in 1891 because she took every other year off to pick cotton and perform other work to earn her tuition to continue her studies.
Sources: 

Dorothy Sterling, We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984), http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_132.html

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Union Bethel AME Church, Great Falls, Montana (1890- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in Great Falls, Montana, is one of the state’s oldest active churches.  

The African American community in Great Falls dates to the town’s beginnings.  As elsewhere in the western United States, the community came together early on for mutual benefit around the construction of a church.  The AME congregation organized in 1890 and built its church the following year.  The original structure was taken down in 1917, and replaced with the current building.  
Sources: 
Barbara Behan,Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, National Register of Historic Places Registration Proposal, May 15, 2003.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brown, Clara (1803–1885)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Clara Brown was a kind-hearted, generous woman whose determination led her on a life-long quest to be reunited with her daughter. Born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia in 1803, her earliest memory was of being sold on the auction block. She grew up in Logan County, Kentucky, married at age 18, and had four children. At age 36 her master, Ambrose Smith, died and her family was sold off to settle his estate. Despite her continued enslavement, Clara Brown vowed to search for her ten-year-old daughter, Eliza Jane.
Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Roger Baker, Clara an Ex-Slave in Gold Rush Colorado (Central City, Colorado: Black Hawk Publishing, 2003). 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Fisher, Abby (1832- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Abby Fisher’s cookbook, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc. published in 1881, is the oldest known cookbook written by a former slave. Abby (maiden name unknown), was born in 1832, and grew up in the plantation kitchens in South Carolina. There she honed her culinary skills and became a phenomenal cook, which catapulted her to success later in life.

Abby Fisher married Alexander C. Fisher and the couple had eleven children.  By the end of the Civil War she and her family gained their freedom.  In 1877 the Fishers relocated from Mobile to San Francisco where her talents as a cook and caterer soon were in high demand among the city’s upper class.  Her reputation and award winning delicacies enabled the Fishers to open their own business listed in the San Francisco directories as “Mrs. Abby Fisher & Company” and later as “Mrs. Abby Fisher, Pickle Manufacturer.”

Abby Fisher expertly blended African and American cultures by combining the foods and spices from two continents. Her unique dishes with their distinctive flavor represented some of the best Southern cooking of the day. At the insistence of her friends and patrons to record her “knowledge and experience of Southern cooking, pickle, and jelly making” Mrs. Fisher authored a cookbook. Since she could neither read nor write, her recipes were carefully described to writers who compiled them in the cookbook under her name.
Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, CT: TwoDot, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Abby Fisher, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc. (Facsimile edition, with historical notes by Karen Hess. (Bedford, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, 1995); Janice B. Longone, “Early Black-Authored American Cookbooks.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture (February 2001) “Welcome to Applewood Books Publisher’s of America’s Living past”. http://www.applewoodbooks.com
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Drake, Mary Jane Holmes Shipley (1841–1925)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Mary Jane Holmes Shipley Drake, born in Missouri in 1841, was one of six children of Robin and Polly Holmes. From 1852 to 1853 Mary Jane was the subject of a fifteen-month legal battle known as Holmes v. Ford to obtain her freedom.  That battle also helped determine the status of slavery in Oregon Territory.  

The Holmes family was owned by Missouri farmer Nathaniel Ford.  In 1844 Ford brought the family west on the Oregon Trail, promising Robin and Polly their freedom if they would help him establish a farm in the Oregon Territory.   Ford refused to honor his promise for five years after their arrival, finally relenting in 1849.  He freed the parents and their newborn son but refused to release nine-year-old Mary Jane and her other siblings including two who had been born in Oregon Territory.  Ford intended to sell each of the four children when they reached adulthood.

Ford’s refusal to release Mary Jane Holmes and her siblings prompted Robin and Polly Holmes to file suit to regain custody over their children.  The case worked its way through lower courts and finally reached the bench of Chief Justice George A. Williams of the Oregon Territory Supreme Court.  Chief Justice Williams ruled that slavery could not exist in the territory without specific legislation to protect.  He then declared the Holmes children free.  The Holmes case was the last attempt to establish slavery in Oregon through the judicial process.    
Sources: 

Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, CT: TwoDot, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Fred Lockley, “The Case of Robin Holmes vs. Nathaniel Ford,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 23:2 (June 1922):111-137; Elizabeth McLagan, A Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940 (Portland: Georgian Press, 1980).  

Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Neal, Annie Box (1870–1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Annie Box Neal was the proprietor and manager of the Mountain View Hotel in Oracle, Arizona, a western mining town in the Catalina Mountains. Her secluded grand resort was recognized as the “epitome of western opulence” in its day and received distinguished guests from Russia, Australia, China and other places around the world. Neal had a flair for entertainment and was renowned for her gracious hostess skills, which brought her unprecedented success.

Anna Magdalena Box, of African American and Native American descent, was born in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, in 1870. Her grandmother had come to the Territory on the Trail of Tears.  In 1876, Neal accompanied her parents and other Cherokee Freedpeople to Tucson, Arizona Territory. Annie was enrolled in St. Joseph’s Academy next to San Augustine’s Mission for Indians while her parents supported themselves through gambling and mining investments.
Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, CT: TwoDot, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Barbara Marriott, Annie’s Guests – Tales from a Frontier Hotel (Tucson, Arizona: Catymatt Productions, 2002).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mason, Bridget “Biddy” (1818–1891)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Bridget “Biddy” Mason, born a slave in Mississippi in 1818, achieved financial success that enabled her to support her extended family for generations despite the fact that she was illiterate. In a landmark case she sued her master for their freedom, saved her earnings, invested in real estate, and became a well-known philanthropist in Los Angeles, California.

Although born in Mississippi, Mason was owned by slaveholders in Georgia and South Carolina before she was returned to Mississippi.  Her last owner, Robert Marion Smith, a Mississippi Mormon convert, followed the call of church leaders to settle in the West.  Mason and her children joined other slaves on Smith’s religious pilgrimage to establish a new Mormon community in Utah. In 1848 30-year-old Mason walked 1,700 miles behind a 300-wagon caravan that eventually arrived in the Holladay-Cottonwood area of the Salt Lake Valley. Along the route west Mason’s responsibilities included setting up and breaking camp, cooking the meals, herding the cattle, and serving as a midwife as well as taking care of her three young daughters aged ten, four, and an infant.
Sources: 

Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, Connecticut: TwoDot, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier African Americans in the American West 1528-1990 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998; Dolores Hayden, The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1995); Jessie Carney Smith, (editor). Epic Lives One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993).

Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Jordan Hatcher Case (1852)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Jordan Hatcher was a seventeen-year-old enslaved tobacco worker in Richmond, Virginia, who in 1852 rose from obscurity to notoriety when charged with assaulting and killing white overseer William Jackson.  According to newspaper accounts and trial records, Hatcher was working at the Walker & Harris tobacco factory when Jackson began flogging him with a cowhide for performing poorly.  Hatcher initially warded off the blows, but Jackson continued to beat him.  In response Hatcher grabbed an iron poker, struck Jackson unconscious, and immediately fled the factory.  When Jackson later awok
Sources: 
Midori Takagi, “Rearing Wolves to Our Own Destruction” Slavery in Richmond, Virginia, 1782-1865 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999); William A. Link, “The Jordan Hatcher Case: Politics and “A Spirit of Insubordination” in Antebellum Virginia,” Journal of Southern History 64:4 (Nov 1998); Harrison M. Ethridge, “The Jordan Hatcher Affair of 1852,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 84 (1976).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Washington University

Jackson, Lydia Flood (1862-1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lydia Flood Jackson was a champion of women’s rights and suffrage in California for African American women and other people of color. The outspoken activist was the first black student to attend an integrated public school in Oakland, California.

Flood’s mother, Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood, led the 19th Century campaign for desegregated education in California and founded the state’s first African American school in Sacramento in 1854.  Her father Isaac Flood, one of the first African American residents of Oakland, California, also fought for education and equality for blacks.

Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, CT: TwoDot, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Delilah L. Beasley, The Negro Trailblazers of California (New York: G. K. Hall & Co., 1919); “Elizabeth Flood’s School: Oakland’s First African American Institution” (Oakland Heritage Alliance News, Winter 1992-93); George F. Jackson, Black Women Makers of History (Sacramento: Fong & Fong, 1977).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Jasper, John J. (1812-1901)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Reverend John Jasper is arguably one of the most famous black ministers of nineteenth-century Richmond, Virginia, who gained popularity for his electrifying preaching style and his ability to spiritually move both black and white Baptists.  He began his career in the early 1840s, preaching at funerals of slave and free black parishioners and giving occasional sermons at the First African Baptist Church.  His popularity grew quickly and not only among Richmonders; after giving a guest sermon to the Third African Baptist Church in the nearby city of Petersburg, Jasper was invited by that congregation to preach every Sunday.  Jasper’s accomplishments are even more remarkable given the fact that he was a slave in the tobacco factories and iron mills of Richmond during the first 25 years of his ministry work during a time when Virginia law expressly prohibited blacks from preaching.
Sources: 
Mary J. Bratton, “John Jasper of Richmond: From Slave Preacher to Community Leader,” Virginia Cavalcade 29 (Summer 1979); William E. Hatcher, John Jasper: The Unmatched Negro Philosopher and Preacher (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969); John Jasper, “De Sun Do Move,” http://www.library.vcu.edu/jbc/speccoll/vbha/6th5.html

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Washington University

Bruce, John Edward (1856-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Edward Bruce was born into slavery in Piscataway, Maryland in 1856.  When Bruce was three years old his father was sold away to Georgia prompting young Bruce and his mother to escape to Washington, D.C. in fear of losing each other.  Bruce and his mother Martha resided with Martha's cousin Busie Patterson who was a body servant to Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton. This relationship with a powerful white congressman provided the Bruce family with opportunities and access to jobs in white upper-class communities. Martha Bruce, for example, obtained a job in Connecticut working closely with a white family. While in Connecticut, John Edward Bruce enrolled in an integrated school and received his first formal education. Traveling back to Washington, he received a private education and attended Howard University.
Sources: 
Ralph L. Crowder, John Edward Bruce: Politician, Journalist, and Self-trained Historian of the African Diaspora (New York: New York University Press, 2004);
http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/bruce.html; http://www.historicaldocuments.com/BloodRedRecord.htm
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hemings, Sally (1773-1835)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Hemings-Jefferson Descendants, 2001
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sally Hemings was born into slavery in Virginia, probably at Guinea Plantation in Cumberland County, the youngest of six children of Elizabeth Hemings allegedly fathered by her white master John Wayles. Her mother was herself the child of an enslaved African woman and an English sea-captain, making Sally three-fourths white in ancestry.

On Wayles’ death in 1773, the Hemings family was inherited by Martha, his eldest legitimate child, and brought to the Monticello plantation of Thomas Jefferson whom Martha had married the previous year.  There the children grew up as house slaves staffing Monticello during the years that encompassed Martha Jefferson’s death in September 1782 and Jefferson’s departure to Paris, France on diplomatic service in 1784.  Three years later, Sally Hemings traveled to France as companion and maid to Jefferson’s eight-year-old daughter Maria, staying until 1789.  
Sources: 
Fawn Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History (New York: Norton, 1974); Annette Gordon-Read, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1997); Jan Ellen Lewis and Peter S. Onuf, eds., Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: History, Memory, and Civic Culture (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Tanner, Benjamin Tucker (1835-1923)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benjamin Tucker Tanner was born on Christmas day of 1835 to Hugh and Isabella Tanner of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  As one of twelve children he brought income into the Tanner household by delivering newspapers at age nine.  In 1852 Tanner was accepted into Avery College, a training school for black youth in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania.  At Avery, Tanner met and in 1858 married fellow student Sarah Elizabeth Miller. They had four children including Henry Ossawa Tanner, the first African American artist to achieve national acclaim, and Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson, one of the first black women physicians in the United States. Benjamin Tucker Tanner continued his own education at Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny City from 1857 to 1860.  He received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Wilberforce College in 1878.

Benjamin Tanner joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in 1856.  Two years later, while at Western Theological Seminary, Tanner was given a license to preach.  In 1860 he received his pastoral certificate and two years later founded an AME Church in Washington, D.C.  Always an advocate of education, he established the nation’s first school for freedmen in the United States Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and later managed freedman’s schools in Frederick County, Maryland.
Sources: 
William Seraile, Fire in His Heart Bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner and the A.M.E. Church (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1998); Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Dixon, George "Little Chocolate" (1870-1909)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Dixon, also known as “Little Chocolate,” was born on July 29, 1870 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Standing only 5’ 3 ½” and weighing no more than 118 pounds over the bulk of his career, “Little Chocolate” was described as long armed and skinny legged, swift of hand and foot, and possessing an ideal fighting temperament and great stamina. Ring magazine founder and editor, Nat Fleischer, described him as a marvel of cleverness, yet indicated that he could slug with the best of them. Fleischer rated him as the # 1 bantamweight of all time.

Dixon became the first black man to win a world championship when he captured the bantamweight title just shy of his 20th birthday by defeating Nunc Wallace of England in 18 rounds on June 27, 1890. Only 13 months later he knocked out Abe Willis of Australia to garner the featherweight crown. He held that title for the next six years, finally losing it by decision to Solly Smith on October 4, 1897. He regained it on November 11, 1898 by defeating Dave Sullivan, but then lost it for good when Terry McGovern knocked him out on January 9, 1900.
Sources: 
John D. McCallum, The Encyclopedia of World Boxing Champions (Radner, Pennsylvania; Chilton Book Co. 1975); www.cyberboxingzone.com and www.boxrec.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Maples, William Lineas (1869-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Lineas Maples, a physician and musician, was born in Sevierville, Tennessee, on March 31, 1869. The son of Edward Maples and Martha Jane Runions, William graduated in the first class of the segregated high school in Knoxville in 1888.  Showing a talent for science, oratory, and music, he received the Dodson medal upon graduation.  

Maples taught high school for one year in Austin, Tennessee and then entered medical school at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1889.  He received an M.D. degree in 1893 and returned to Knoxville to establish a medical practice.  The Spanish-American War in 1898 interrupted that practice as he joined the U.S. Army’s medical unit of the all-black Third Regiment of the North Carolina Volunteers. He ended his service a year later and returned to Knoxville to resume his practice.

In 1900 agents for the Hawaii Commercial and Sugar Company (HC&S Co.) on Maui traveled through Tennessee and Alabama looking for workers for Hawaii’s plantations. They also sought a physician to staff the hospital that would serve the contract workers. Maples was recruited as the anesthetist for the HC&S hospital. His older brother, Samuel, a lawyer, also accepted a position as a representative of the black contract laborers recruited for the HC&S plantations.

Prior to leaving Knoxville, Maples married Sadie (maiden name unknown), who accompanied him on the voyage to Hawaii. He was assigned to the hospital in Puunene,
Sources: 
Miles M. Jackson, And They Came: A Brief History of Blacks in Hawaii (Durham: Four Gs Publishers, 2001); Paul Wermager, They Followed the Trade Winds: African Americans in Hawaii (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hawaii

Hervey, Gilford P. (1836-1920)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Gilford P. Hervey was born enslaved, the third of 14 children of Cary M. and Rose Hervey in Halifax County, North Carolina, both of whom were owned by Gideon T. Hervey.

Hervey served with Company F of the 59th United States Infantry (USCI) formerly 1st Tennessee Colored Infantry, volunteering from his home in Water Valley, Mississippi, at La Grande, Tennessee June 1863. While in military service, Gilford was involved in a number of battles including the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads on June 10, 1864 near Tupelo, Mississippi and the repulse of Nathan Bedford’s attack on Memphis on August 21, 1864. Hervey was injured during the war which prompted his claim for a pension. He was discharged from military service on January 31, 1866 in Memphis, Tennessee.

After his discharge Hervey became a minister and resided in several states including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, and California before migrating to Seattle in 1915. During those years he married three times and had one child, a son named Carey, by his first wife, Annie Rankin. Hervey maintained his Seattle residence for five years. He died, however, in a hospital in Sedro Woolley, Washington on September 8, 1920. As a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), Hervey was eligible for burial in Seattle’s GAR Cemetery located on Capital Hill. Hervey is one of three known African American Civil War soldiers buried there.

Sources: 
Civil War Pension File (542345); 59th Regimental History, online http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/template.cfm

Contributor: 
Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
Black Genealogy Research Group

Brisby, William H. (1831-1916)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
William BrisbyWilliam Henry Brisby was born free in New Kent County, Virginia in 1831 and lived on 32 acres of land that he inherited from his father.  He later bought additional land and eventually had a 179 acre farm.  Brisby worked mostly as a blacksmith and wheelwright but raised sheep, and engaged in commercial fishing.
Sources: 
Luther Porter Jackson, Negro Office Holders in Virginia, 1865-1895 (Norfolk: Guide Quality Press, 1945); John T. Kneebone, ed., Dictionary of Virginia Biography (Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hawaii

Bruce, Blanche Kelso (1841-1898)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

Blanche Kelso Bruce was born a slave in 1841 in Prince Edward County, Virginia but was raised in Missouri. Shortly after the beginning of the Civil War, Bruce fled to Kansas, becoming a free man before Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.  

After the Civil War he returned to Missouri and founded the first school for African Americans in Hannibal.  Bruce briefly attended Oberlin College, but out of funds, began working as a steamboat porter on the Mississippi River.  Hearing Mississippi gubernatorial candidate James L. Alcorn speak, Bruce decided to move to the state in 1869 to enter politics.  

Sources: 
Kenneth Eugene Mann, “Blanche Kelso Bruce: United States Senator Without a Constituency.” Journal of Mississippi History 38 (May 1976): 183-98; Howard N. Rabinowitz, “Three Reconstruction Leaders: Blanche K. Bruce, Robert Brown Eliott, and Holland Thompson” in Leon Litwack and August Meier, eds., Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), pp. 191-217; and Samuel Shapiro, “A Black Senator from Mississippi: Blanche K. Bruce (1841-1898).”  Review of Politics 44 (January 1982): 83-109.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Jones, Sissieretta (1869-1933)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sissieretta Jones was a world-famous soprano who in June 1892, became the first African American to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City, New York. Touring internationally in the late 1800s and early 1900s, she sang both classical opera and performed in musical comedies with her own troupe.

Born Matilda Sissieretta Joyner on January 5, 1869, in Portsmouth, Virginia, she was the child of Jeremiah Joyner, a pastor, and Henrietta Joyner, a singer in the church choir. After moving with her family to Rhode Island when she was six, Sissieretta began singing in the church choir, which was directed by her father. When only fourteen, she married David Richard Jones, who became her first manager. Later, she formally studied voice at the Providence Academy of Music, the New England Conservatory, and the Boston (Massachusetts) Conservatory.
Sources: 
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, African American Lives (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004); Darryl Lyman, Great African-American Women (New York: Gramercy Books, 2000 edition); http://www.aaregistry.com.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Thomas, William Hannibal (1843-1935)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
William Hannibal Thomas
at Otterbein College, 1922
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Hannibal Thomas was born in Pickaway County, Ohio, on May 4, 1843 to free black parents.  During his early childhood Thomas’s family moved frequently in search of economic advancement before returning to Ohio in 1857.  As a teenager Thomas performed manual labor, attended school briefly, and broke the color line by entering Otterbein University in 1859.  Thomas’s matriculation at the school sparked a race riot and he withdrew.  Denied entry to the Union Army in 1861 because of his race, Thomas served briefly as principal of Union Seminary Institute, a manual training school near Columbus, Ohio.

After twenty-two months’ service as a servant in two white Union regiments, in 1863 Thomas enlisted in Ohio’s first all-black military unit, the 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  Appointed sergeant, he became a decorated combat solider.  At Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in February 1865 Thomas received a gunshot wound in the right arm that resulted in its amputation.  He suffered pain and medical complications from this wound for the remainder of his life.
Sources: 
John David Smith, Black Judas:  William Hannibal Thomas and “The American Negro” (Athens:  University of Georgia Press, 2000; Chicago:  Ivan R. Dee, 2002); John David Smith, “The Lawyer vs. the Race Traitor:  Charles W. Chesnutt, William Hannibal Thomas, and The American Negro,” Journal of The Historical Society, 3:2 (Spring 2003); http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/thomas/menu.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Bruce, Josephine Beall Willson (1853-1923)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A clubwoman, teacher, society leader, and race activist, Josephine Beall Willson Bruce was born in Philadelphia on October 29, 1853, to Dr. Joseph Willson, a prominent dentist, and Elizabeth Harnett Willson, a singer and musician. In 1854 the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio where Josephine Willson received her education. An accomplished linguist, she enjoyed literature and classical music.

On June 24, 1878, she married Republican senator Blanche K. Bruce, a political leader and plantation owner from Mississippi and the only black United States senator. After touring Europe they established residence in Washington, D.C. With Josephine Bruce a cultured and charming hostess, the Bruce home became a center of Washington social life. Though Blanche Bruce's term ended in 1880 he received political appointments in Washington enabling the couple to remain active in social and community life.

Sources: 
Bruce A. Glasrud, "Josephine Beall (Willson) Bruce," in African American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, edited by Dorothy C. Salem, 75-77 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993); Willard B. Gatewood, “Josephine Beall Willson Bruce,” in Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, vol. I, 187-188 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Rawles, George Washington (1845–1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Sources: 
Stewart Sifkas, Compendium of Confederate Armies (Baltimore: Heritage Books,  2003); US Federal Census 1910, Microfilm number T624-1662, Page 3B, Enumeration District 188, Seattle Ward 11, King County, Washington acknowledges his service in the Confederate Army.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Harlan, Robert James (1816-1897)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Robert James Harlan was an entrepreneur, businessman, and army officer who devoted the second half of his life to political and civic service. Among his many accomplishments, in an 1879 speech before Congress titled "Migration is the Only Remedy for Our Wrongs," Harlan argued for the right of blacks to migrate wherever they chose within the United States.  Within the next year, 6,000 black "Exodusters" would leave Mississippi and Louisiana for Kansas.

Harlan was born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky on December 12, 1816 to a mulatto mother and a white father, Judge James Harlan. Although born enslaved, Harlan was raised in his father's home, and his keen intellect meant that he was a good fit in a household that included a future Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Harlan's half-brother, John Marshall Harlan, wrote the dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Since there were no schools for African American children in Kentucky during this era Harlan was tutored by his two older half-brothers.

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); William J. Simmons, Mark of Men: Eminent, Progressive, and Rising (Cleveland, Ohio: Geo. M. Rewell & Co., 1887).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Williams, Paul R. (1894-1980)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Architect Paul Williams in Front of His Most Famous
Project, the Theme Building, Los Angeles Airport
Paul R. Williams was one of the most well known 20th Century African American architects. Early in his career, Williams designed mostly houses, but in the 1950s and 1960s he designed some of the most distinctive public buildings in Los Angeles. Williams’s best-known building is probably the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, which he designed with William Pereira.

Paul Williams was born in Los Angeles in 1894, a few years after his parents had moved to Southern California from Tennessee. Williams’s father died in 1896, and his mother died two years later. Williams grew up in the home of C.D. and Emily Clarkson. He graduated from Polytechnic High School and studied at the Los Angeles School of Art, the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, and the engineering school at the University of Southern California. While he pursued his studies in the 1910s, Williams also worked in the offices of several different Los Angeles architects. In 1917 he married Della Mae Givens. They had two daughters, Marilyn and Norma.
Sources: 

Karen E. Hudson, Paul R. Williams, Architect: A Legacy of Style (New York: Rizzoli, 1993); “Architect Paul R. Williams,”    http://www.paulrwilliamsproject.org/about/paul-revere-williams-architect/


Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Washington University

Buffalo Soldiers in Vermont (1909-1913)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Ethan Allen
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In July of 1909, 750 10th Cavalry “Buffalo Soldiers” marched into Vermont for their assignment at Fort Ethan Allen, Colchester, Vermont.  Prior to their arrival, they had been stationed in various other locations such as Cuba, Kansas, and the Philippines, all warmer climates.  During their first fall and winter in Vermont they were ill equipped for the weather as they were still wearing summer issue clothing. The first winter at Fort Ethan Allen was long and hard with guard duty occasionally walked in blizzards.    

The 10th Cavalry performed various maneuvers, parades, and celebrations while at Fort Ethan Allen.  They participated in the Hudson-Fulton celebration in Albany, New York and served as escorts for General Oliver O. Howard’s funeral.  They took part in the dedication of the Saratoga Battle Monument and engaged in maneuvers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Virginia.  The longest and most important maneuvers were held in the summer of 1913 near Winchester, Virginia with two white cavalry regiments, the 11th and 15th, testing new cavalry tactics.
Sources: 
David Work, “The Buffalo Soldiers in Vermont, 1909-1913,” The Proceedings of the Vermont Historical Society, 73:1 & 2 (Winter/Spring 2005), John Buechler, “Buffalo Soldiers in the Green Mountains,” Chittenden County Historical Society Bulletin, 5:2 (November 1969); Rose Mary Graveline, Mary McCollum, Nick McCollum, Sharon McCollum, Mark Spencer and Reginald Wells, descendants of Vermont 10th Cavalry soldiers, “Oral history and military documents,” Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier II:  Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Lanham, Maryland: Scholarly Resources Books, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Vermont

Yates, John Henry "Jack" (1828-1897)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Henry "Jack" Yates, minister and educator, was born a slave to Robert and Rachael Yates in Gloucester County, Virginia, on July 11, 1828. As a slave, Yates learned to read and write, and acquired the skills of carpentry. During his bondage, he married Harriet Willis of a neighboring plantation and together they had eleven children. Unable to stand the pain of being separated from his family, when Harriet's master moved to Matagorda County, Texas, Jack Yates begged to go along and was granted permission.

When African American enslaved people were set free on June 19, 1865, The Yates family moved to Houston where he became drayman and Baptist preacher. As a minister, Yates did missionary work among the freedmen and women who were rapidly moving into Houston immediately after the Civil War. When the first black Baptist church (Antioch Missionary Baptist Church) was organized in Houston in January, 1866, he became its founding pastor. By 1875, the Antioch congregation, almost all of whom were former slaves, had erected a brick church edifice. With Yates at the helm of Antioch, the church had become influential in the political, social and cultural life of black Houston.

Sources: 
Rutherford B. H. Yates, Sr., and Paul L. Yates, The Life and Effort of Jack Yates (Houston:  Texas Southern University Press, 1985).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Henson, Josiah (1789-1883)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Josiah Henson was born into slavery on June 15, 1789 in Charles County, Maryland.  As a young boy he witnessed slavery’s cruelties inflicted on his immediate family.  Young Henson watched his father receive fifty lashes for standing up to a slave owner and then witnessed his father’s ear being severed as part of the punishment.   Shortly afterwards he watched his father sold off to an Alabama slaveholder.  Upon the death of his owner, Henson was separated from his mother and siblings in an estate sale.  Although he was reunited with his mother, he never saw his siblings again.

Henson remained on his new owner’s farm in Montgomery County, Maryland, until he was an adult.  As he aged he rose to become a trusted slave and supervised other enslaved people on the farm.  However, he used his new position to make his escape from slavery.  Following the Underground Railroad, Henson escaped from Maryland to the Province of Upper Canada (present-day Ontario), Canada with his wife and four children by way of the Niagara River in 1830.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Kinchlow, Ben (1846?-1939?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Ben Kinchlow began life as a free black in Texas, when most African Americans were slaves. After the Texas Revolution, the new Republic legalized slavery and free African Americans were at risk of being sold back into slavery. Ben’s mother, Lizaar Moore, a half-white slave woman obtained her freedom from Sandy Moore, in Wharton County and in 1847 with one year old Ben and her other son journeyed to Mexico.

The family settled in the border area of Matamoros where Lizaar worked washing clothes, charging $2.50 a dozen for men’s clothing and $5.00 for women’s. Young Ben learned to ride and break horses and stayed in Mexico about twelve years before moving to Brownsville, where he lived until emancipation.

Working on the Bare Stone Ranch, Kinchlow became acquainted with Captain Leander McNelly and, at nineteen became a guide for McNelly working without pay. So began the Texas Ranger life of the earliest known African American with the Special Force or McNelly’s Rangers. When McNelly died Kinchlow returned to working cattle and breaking horses. He worked on the Banqueta Ranch as well as the King Ranch with horse breaking his main responsibility. Then he moved onto Matagorda County where worked as a cowhand on the Tres Palacios Ranch. He worked for twelve years getting fifty cents a head for every Maverick he roped and branded.

Sources: 
John H. Fuller, “Ben Kinchlow: A Trail Driver on the Chisholm Trail,” Sara R. Massey, ed., Black Cowboys of Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2000), 99-116.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Peyton Colony, Texas (estab. 1865)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Peyton Colony's Mt. Horeb Baptist Church 
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Peyton Colony was a freedmen’s community established in 1865 by Peyton Roberts (c.1820-1888), an ex-slave who migrated to Caldwell County, Texas. Roberts was born enslaved on the William Roberts Plantation in Virginia.  Roberts and several families on the Roberts Plantation gained their freedom at the end of the Civil War. 

In late 1865, Peyton Roberts led these families to the Texas hill country eight miles southeast of the present-day town of Blanco. They homesteaded public land and built cabins on their new properties.  Their small community, along Boardhouse Creek, became known as the Peyton Colony.

In 1874, Rev. Jack Burch, a freedman, from Tennessee, arrived in the Colony and pitched a tent for the first meeting of the Mt. Horeb Baptist Church. Jim Upshear, one of the colonists, donated land for a permanent site and the settlers built a log church, which also served as a community school.  Part of the Colony site, now a state park, includes a cemetery with 176 graves, including Peyton Roberts and many of the original settlers.

Sources: 

Thad Sitton and James H. Conrad, Freedom Colonies: Independent Black Texans in the Time of Jim Crow, Austin, TX.: University of Texas Press, 2005; Wanda Qualls, “Peyton Cemetery – Black, Blanco County, Texas,” 2002, http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/tx/blanco/cemetery/peyton.txt (accessed April, 16, 2007); Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. “Peyton, Texas,” http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/PP/hrp77.html (accessed Aril 16, 2007).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Uncle Tom's Cabin, written and published by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852, was the most popular 19th century novel and, after the Bible, was the second-best-selling book of that century.  Over 300,000 copies were sold in the United States in its first year alone.  The book’s impact on the American public on the issue of slavery was so powerful that when President Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe at the start of the American Civil War he stated “so this is the little lady who made this big war.”  

This anti-slavery novel was controversial as soon as it appeared.  Stowe used Uncle Tom’s Cabin to publicize the horrors of slavery, bringing them to the attention of thousands who heretofore had not been particularly sympathetic to the abolitionist cause.  Its portrayal of slavery immediately increased the tensions between Southern slaveholders and non-slaveholding Northerners and as Lincoln’s comments suggested, brought the nation to civil war.
Sources: 

Mason I. Lowance, Ellen E. Westbrook and R.C. De Prospo, The Stowe Debate: Rhetorical Strategies in Uncle Tom's Cabin (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994); "Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture: A Multi-Media Archive," Edited by Stephen Railton; http://www.uncletomscabin.org/; http://zorak.monmouth.edu/~afam/stowe2.jpg; http://www.uncletomscabin.org/.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Following the Union Army victory at Antietam, Maryland on September 17, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary emancipation proclamation.  This document gave the states of the Confederacy until January 1, 1863 to lay down their arms and peaceably reenter the Union; if these states continued their rebellion all slaves in those seceding states were declared free.

Fearing the secession of neutral border slaveholding states such as Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation excluded those states, which left almost one fifth of the four million slaves in bondage. Their freedom would come with the 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865.

The Emancipation Proclamation also allowed freedmen to enlist into the Union Army.  This provision struck a series blow to the economic structure of the seceding states as many black slaves labored for the Confederate Army or were engaged in vital agricultural or industrial production for the Confederacy.
Sources: 
James West Davidson, Nation of Nation: A Concise Narrative of the American Republic.  Volume I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2006); Pauline Maier, Inventing America: A History of the United States Vol. I, 2nd edition (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cole, Rebecca J. (1846-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

Dr. Rebecca J. Cole was the first black woman doctor in the United States.  Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 16, 1846, Cole was one of five children.

Cole began her schooling at the Institute for Colored Youth and graduated in 1863.  She then attended the New England Female Medical College and graduated in 1864 after completing her thesis titled “The Eye and Its Appendages.”  With her graduation she became the first formally trained black woman doctor in the United States.  She received a second medical degree in 1867 when she graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.   

After graduation, Cole went to work at Elizabeth Blackwell’s Infirmary for Women and Children in New York.  After gaining experience there, she moved to Columbia, South Carolina to practice but then later returned to Philadelphia.  Cole also set up practices in North Carolina and Washington, D.C. during her medical career.

Sources: 
Darlene Hine, Black Women in America:an Historical Encyclopedia (New York: Carlson Pub., 1993);  Harry A. Ploski and James Williams, The Negro Almanac (Detroit: Gale Research Incorporated, 1989); http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_66.html (Accessed November 20, 2009); Sandra Harding, The "Racial" Economy of Science: Toward a Democratic Future (Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1993); Dorthy Sterling, “We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century” (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Steward, Susan Smith McKinney (1847-1918)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Steward was the first African American woman to earn a medical doctorate (M.D.) in New York State and the third in the United States.  Susan Smith was born to elite Brooklyn parents, Ann Springstead and Sylvanus Smith.  She was of mixed European, African, and Shinnecock Indian heritage. Though her early education was musical, Susan Smith entered the New York Medical College for Women in 1867.  She earned her M.D. in 1870, graduating as valedictorian.  The next year, 1871, she married Reverend William G. McKinney with whom she had two children.

Dr. Smith McKinney’s professional accomplishments were numerous.  She established her own private practice in Brooklyn which she ran from 1870 to 1895.  During this time she co-founded the Brooklyn Women’s Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary which served the African American community, completed post-graduate education at the Long Island Medical College Hospital in Brooklyn (1887-1888), practiced at the Brooklyn Home for Aged Colored People where she also served as a board member (1892-1895), and practiced at New York Medical College and Hospital for Women in Manhattan (1892-1896).  Dr. Smith McKinney specialized in prenatal care and childhood diseases and gave papers on both these topics.
Sources: 
Robert C. Hayden, “Steward, Susan Maria Smith McKinney,” American National Biography Online, February 2000; Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Carney, William H. (1840-1908)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton. Slavery and the Making of America. (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005); Jessie Carney Smith, editor. Black Firsts: 2,000 Years of Extraordinary Achievement.  (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gibbs, Jonathan (1827-1874)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born a freeman in Pennsylvania in 1827, Jonathan Gibbs was the son of Maria Jackson and the Methodist minister, Jonathan Gibbs.

Gibbs was originally trained as a carpenter until in 1848.  Then he became one of only two African Americans accepted at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.  After graduating four years later he enrolled in the seminary at Princeton University.  In 1852 Gibbs became an ordained minister to black Presbyterian congregations in New York and Pennsylvania.  

During the 1850s Gibbs was a political activist who fought of the rights of African Americans.  He aided with the Underground Railroad, campaigned for the expansion of black male suffrage in New York, joined the freedmen’s relief efforts and fought segregation on New York City streetcars.  Gibbs also served as vice president of the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League.  When the Civil War broke out Gibbs supported black enlistment into the union army.  On January 1st 1863 he gave a rousing speech “A Day to Celebrate Emancipation” to the audience of  First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia praising the efforts of African Americans through past heroes like Crispus Attucks up to the African American’s role during the Civil War.  He also praised the recently announced Emancipation Proclamation which took affect that day.  
Sources: 
James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America.  (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001); Josh Gottheimer, ed. Ripples of Hope: Great American Civil Rights Speeches.  (New York: Civitas Books, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Church, Robert Reed, Sr. (1839-1912)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of
Tennessee State University
Robert Reed Church, Sr., was a millionaire business leader and philanthropist in Memphis, Tennessee.  Born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, on June 18, 1839, he was the product of an interracial union. His father was a steamboat captain, Charles B. Church, and his mother, Emmeline, was an enslaved seamstress who died when Robert was twelve years old. His father employed Robert as a cabin boy and a steward.  Surviving a near fatal steamboat sinking in 1855, Robert in 1862 was forced to be a cabin steward on a Union steamer during the Civil War.  Church married Louisa Ayres, also a former slave, in 1862.  The couple had one child, Mary Eliza, who became a prominent civil rights and women’s rights advocate.  After his marriage to Louisa ended in divorce, Church married Anna Wright in 1885 and they had Robert, Jr. who eventually followed his father into business and politics.       
Sources: 
Annette E. Church and Roberta Church, The Robert R. Churches of Memphis: A Father and Son Who Achieved in Spite of Race (Memphis: A.E. Church, 1974); Mary C. Terrell, A Colored Woman in a White World (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2006; Lester Lamon, Black Tennesseans, 1900-1930 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1977); Robert A. Sigafoos, Cotton Row to Beale Street: A Business History of Memphis (Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1979); The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/;.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Wiley College (1873- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, is the first African-American college established in the Lone Star State.  The institution was founded in 1873 by Bishop Isaac Wiley of Methodist Episcopal Church and chartered by the Freedman’s Aid Society in 1882. Isaac Wiley grew up with dreams of becoming a minister but instead turned to medicine. In 1850 he was given the opportunity to go to China on a medical missionary trip. Following his return to the United States he entered the ministry and rose through the ranks before becoming a Bishop in 1872. In 1873 he founded Wiley College.  The college is now affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is dedicated to the idea of social responsibility and seeks to contribute and revitalize the community, which it serves.

Wiley College was established to provide an education to newly freed men and women and to prepare them for a new life. It was also established to train teachers for careers at black elementary and secondary schools in Texas and other states and territories.

Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc: 1998); Wiley College Website, http://www.wileyc.edu/ ; James Farmer Biography, http://www.umw.edu/cas/jfscholars/who/default.php ; Isaac Wiley Biography, http://www.famousamericans.net/isaacwilliamwiley/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Paul Quinn College (1872- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Paul Quinn College, Waco, Texas, ca. 1900
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Paul Quinn College, founded by members of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Austin, Texas in 1872, is the oldest African-American liberal arts college in the state and one of the oldest west of the Mississippi River.  The institution was named for Bishop Paul Quinn who presided over the AME Church in the western states for nearly 30 years.

Paul Quinn College was established to provide an education to newly free African American men and women.   They were taught carpentry, tanning, blacksmithing, and other skills.  The college also offered a curriculum which included Music, Math, Theology and Latin.
Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc: 1998); Paul Quinn College website, http://www.pqc.edu/history.htm .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jim Crow/Jump Jim Crow

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Thomas Rice Playing Jim Crow in Blackface, New York City, 1833
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The term Jim Crow originates back to 1828 when a white New York comedian, Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice, performed in blackface his song and dance that he called Jump Jim Crow.  Rice's performance was supposedly inspired by the song and dance of a physically disabled black man he had seen in Cincinnati, Ohio, named Jim Cuff or Jim Crow.  The song became a huge hit in the 19th century and Thomas Rice performed it across the country as “Daddy Jim Crow,” a caricature of a shabbily dressed African American man.
Sources: 
Eric Lott, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); Dale Cockrell and Don B. Wilmeth, Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and their World. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Gilbert Thomas Stephenson, “The Separation of The Races in Public Conveyances” The American Political Science Review 3.2 (1909): 180-204; Dance History Archives by Street Swing, http://www.streetswing.com/histmai2/d2rice1.htm ; Jump Jim Crow Lyrics, http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/master/jimcrow5.html .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Coppin, Fannie Jackson (1837-1913)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Fannie Jackson was born a slave in Washington D.C. on October 15, 1837.  She gained her freedom when her aunt was able to purchase her at the age of twelve.  Through her teen years Jackson worked as a servant for the author George Henry Calvert and in 1860 she enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio.  Oberlin College was the first college in the United States to accepted both black and female students.

While attending Oberlin College Jackson enrolled and excelled in the men’s course of studies.  She was elected to the highly respected Young Ladies Literary Society and was the first African American student to be appointed in the College’s preparatory department.  As the Civil War came to an end she established a night school in Oberlin in order to educate freed slaves.

Sources: 
Fanny Jackson Coppin, Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints on Teaching (Philadelphia: A.M.E. Book Concern, 1913); Ellen N. Lawson and Marlene Merrill, “The Antebellum ‘Talented Thousandth’: Black College Students at Oberlin Before the Civil War,” The Journal of Negro Education 87 (1983):390-402; http://www.oberlin.edu/news-info/02jun/discover_fannieJCoppin.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Winkfield, Jimmy (1882-1974)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Jimmy Winkfield, born on April 12, 1882, became famous as an early 20th Century horse jockey.  Winkfield, the youngest of 17 children, was born in Chilesburg, Kentucky, a town just outside of Lexington.  As a child, he had a routine that included performing chores on the farm where his father was a sharecropper and overseeing the thoroughbred parades down the country roads. He and his family moved to Cincinnati in 1894.


On August 10, 1898, Winkfield rode his first race. Aboard Jockey Joe at Chicago's Hawthorne Racetrack, he raced his horse out of the gate and rode across the path of the three inside horses, in an effort to get to the rail. This aggressive behavior did not go over well with racetrack officials and he earned a one year suspension.  Winkfield learned from his mistake and on September 18, 1899, won his first race.  Six months later he rode for the first time in the Kentucky Derby.

In 1901, at 19, Winkfield captured his first Kentucky Derby title astride a horse named Eminence. He went on to win 161 races that year, including key victories in the Latonia Derby on Hernando and Tennessee Derby where he rode Royal Victor. While these were spectacular accomplishments, he returned to the Kentucky Derby in 1902 and won again in the most important race of his career.  

Sources: 
Ed Hotaling, Wink: the Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004); Neil Schmidt, “Black Jockey’s journey spanned different worlds.” The Cincinnati Enquirer. April 29, 2002.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Murphy, Isaac Burns (1861-1896)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Isaac Murphy was born on April 16, 1861 as Isaac Burns near Frankfort, Kentucky on a farm to parents James Burns and a mother whose name is unknown.  Murphy was the first American jockey elected to Racing’s Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York and only one of two black jockeys (Willie Simms is the other) to have received this honor.

Burns’s father, a free black man, was a bricklayer and his mother was a laundrywoman.  During the civil war his father joined the Union Army and died in a Confederate prisoner of war camp.  After his father’s death, Burns and his mother moved to live with her father, Green Murphy, a bell ringer and auction crier, in Lexington, Kentucky.  Isaac Burns changed his last name to Murphy once he started racing horses as a tribute to his grandfather.

Sources: 
David Reed, “High Tributes Paid To Murphy,” The Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky), May 5, 1967, p. 13;  Stephen P. Savage, “Isaac Murphy: Black Hero in Nineteenth Century American Sport, 1861-1896,” Canadian Journal of History and Physical Education 10 (1979):15-32; Robert Fikes, Jr, “Issac Murphy”  Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Patsi B. Trollinger, Perfect Timing: How Isaac Murphy Became One of the World's Greatest Jockeys (New York: Viking Press, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Owens, Charles (?-1882)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

A successful business owner and real estate investor, Charles Owens became one of the most prominent African Americans in Los Angeles by the end of the nineteenth century. Born into slavery in Texas, Charles’s father, Robert Owens, purchased his family’s freedom and migrated to Los Angeles, California in 1850.

Sources: 
Beasley, Delilah, The Negro Trail-Blazers of California. Los Angeles: Times Mirror Print and Binding House, 1919; Taylor, Quintard. In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998; Flamming Douglas. Bound For Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005; “Biddy Mason.” In African American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, edited by Dorothy C. Salem. New York: Garland Publishing, 1993.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Moton, Robert R. (1867-1940)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: 
Public Domain

Robert Russa Moton was born on the William Vaughan Plantation in 1867 in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Moton attended the local freedman’s school and eventually went on to college at the Hampton Institute (now called Hampton University).

At Hampton Institute Moton distinguished himself academically and after graduation was appointed the school’s Commandant in charge of military discipline, a post he held for 25 years.  Moton also became a Hampton fundraiser, traveling north to lecture on the school’s programs. 

In 1915, Moton left the Hampton Institute to accept a post as Tuskegee Institute as its second president after the death of founder Booker T. Washington.  Soon after his arrival Moton began to expand the Institute’s academic programs, adding a new department to educate future black school teachers.  He also initiated the construction of what would become the Tuskegee Veterans Administration Hospital which would treat African American World War I veterans.  Despite local white opposition, Moton insisted that the federal hospital be staffed by black doctors, nurses, and administrators.

Sources: 
Robert Russa Moton, Finding a Way Out: An Autobiography (Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1920); William Hardin Hughes and Frederick D. Patterson, Robert Russa Moton of Hampton and Tuskegee (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1956); Lerone Bennett, “Chronicles of Black Courage: Robert R. Moton Risked Life in Fight for Black Doctors at Tuskegee Veterans Hospital,” Ebony, July 2002; www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/flood/peopleevents/p_moton.html;
www.hamptonu.edu, www.gloucesterva.info/moton1.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Five Points District, New York City (1830s-1860s)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Five Points by George Catlin, 1827
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Originally the site of New York City’s first free black settlement, by 1850 the Five Points district in lower Manhattan had instead become infamous for its dance halls, bars, gambling houses, prostitution, and for its mixed race clientele.  To the larger white community, the Five Points was both a warning about the dangers of racial mixing, and a threat to New York’s racial and social order.  To white missionaries and reformers, the area was a mission field.  To most middle class black residents of the city, the Five Points was an embarrassment.  In retrospect, the Five Points simply reflected the changing geography of poverty and race within New York City as working-class Irish immigrants moved into and “whitened” previously all-black residential areas.    
Sources: 
Leslie M. Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003); The Five Points Site: Archaeologists and Historians Rediscover a Famous Nineteenth-Century New York Neighborhood, http://r2.gsa.gov/fivept/fphome.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Walls, Josiah Thomas (1832–1905)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
First elected to the Congress in 1870, Josiah T. Walls became Florida’s first elected African American Congressman. Walls was born a slave in Winchester, Virginia on December 30, 1842.  He was conscripted by the Confederate Army and captured in Yorktown by Union forces in 1862.  Walls then enlisted in the U.S. Colored Troops Infantry Regiment in 1863 where he rose in rank to First Sergeant.  Prior to his discharge from the Army in 1865, Walls married Helen Ferguson of Newnansville, Florida

After leaving the U.S. Army Walls settled in Alachua County, Florida and became active in local politics.  After passage of the U.S. Military Reconstruction Act of 1867, Walls joined the newly formed Republican Party in Florida.  He was an elected delegate to the 1868 state constitutional conventions and shortly afterward was elected to the lower house of the State Legislature in 1868.  He advanced to the State Senate representing the 13th District, which was mostly Alachua County, in 1869.  
Sources: 
Maurice Christopher, Americas Black Congressman (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1971); http://inst.sfcc.edu/~stuorg/bsu/FEB2004/josiahwalls.html
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Negro Baseball Leagues (1920-1950)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Negro Baseball League All-Stars, Comiskey Park, Chicago, 1939
Image Courtesy of Center for Negro League Baseball Research

Baseball was originally played by men in rival athletic clubs for recreation.  After the Civil War in 1865, baseball’s popularity increased dramatically.  At this early time it was still an amateur sport that attracted all races.  There were all-white and all-black teams as well as some integrated teams.  The integrated teams were abolished when, on December 11, 1868, black ballplayers were barred from participation by the National Association of Baseball Players.  The association’s governing body voted unanimously to forbid any club which was composed of one or more people of color from participating.

Sources: 
Donn Rogosin, Invisible Men: Life in Baseball's Negro Leagues (New York : Athenaeum, 1983)  Pat McKissack and Frederick McKissack, Jr., Black Diamond : The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues (New York: Scholastic, 1994) Bill L. Weaver, “The Black Press and the Assault on Professional Baseball's ‘Color Line,’ October, 1945-April, 1947.” Phylon 40.4 (1979): 303-317
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Underground Railroad, The (1820-1861)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Underground Railroad, Fugitives Smuggled During Winter
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Underground Railroad was established to aid enslaved people in their escape to freedom.  The railroad was comprised of dozens of secret routes and safe houses originating in the slaveholding states and extending all the way to the Canadian border, the only area where fugitives could be assured of their freedom.  Shorter routes led south from Florida to Cuba or from Texas to Mexico.  The Underground Railroad also included the smuggling of fugitive slaves onto ships that carried them to ports in the North or outside the United States.
Sources: 
William Still, The Underground Railroad (Chicago, Johnson Publishing Company, 1970)
David W. Blight, Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books in association with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 2004); J. Blaine Hudson, Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2006); http://www.nationalgeographic.com/railroad/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Craft, William and Ellen (1824-1900; 1826-1891)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownershp: Public Domain
William and Ellen Craft were born into slavery.  William was born in Macon, Georgia to a master who sold off his family to pay his gambling debts.  William’s new owner apprenticed him as a carpenter in order to earn money from his labor.  Ellen was born in Clinton, Georgia and was the daughter of an African American slave and her white owner.  Ellen had a very light complexion and was frequently mistaken for a member of her white family.  At the age of 11, she was given away as a wedding gift to the Collins Family in Macon, Georgia.  It was in Macon, Georgia where William and Ellen met.

In 1846 Ellen and William were allowed to marry, but they could not live together since they had different owners.  The separation took its toll and they started to save money and plan an escape.  In December of 1848, the Crafts escaped enslavement.  Ellen’s light complexion allowed her to dress as a white man.  She then claimed William was her slave.  This plan worked and they settled in Boston, Massachusetts, where they became famous because of their remarkable and romantic escape.  Their story briefly generated a sizeable income. 
Sources: 
William and Ellen Craft, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; or, The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery [originally published in 1860] Miami, Florida: Mnemosyne Pub. Company, 1969); Georgia Douglas Camp Johnson, William and Ellen Craft (Alexandria, Va.: Alexander Street Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Harris, Moses [aka Black Moses / "Black Squire"] (1800?-1849)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Moses (Black) Harris on Left in Alfred Jacob Miller Painting
Image Ownership:  Public Domain
Information on Moses Harris’ birth and lineage is limited.  It is believed that he was born in either Union County, South Carolina or somewhere in Kentucky.  Harris was also known as Black Moses or the “Black Squire.”  During the 1820’s Harris moved west and began work as a fur trapper.  His work brought him as far west as the Yellowstone River valley.  During his years as a trapper, Harris gained valuable information on wilderness, mountain and winter survival.  

Moses Harris’ reputation as both a mountain man and his knowledge of wilderness gave him employment as a wagon train guide.  While still fur trapping, he began working as a trail guide, leading trains of supplies to other fur traders.

As the fur trade declined in the 1840s, Harris began regularly working as a guide for missionaries and wagon trains heading west to Oregon.  In 1844 he led one of the largest immigrant wagon trains heading to Oregon.   Later that year, after successfully guiding the wagon train to the Willamette Valley, Harris helped rescue another wagon train lost in the desert of central Oregon.  This would not be the last time Harris would rescue lost and stranded immigrants; a few years later in 1846 he was called on again to help a wagon train stranded in the same desert.
Sources: 
Elizabeth McLagan, A Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940. (Portland: Georgian Press Company, 1980); Jerome Peltier, Black Harris (Fairfield, Washington: Ye Galleon Press, 1996)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Alphonse Trent Orchestra

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West


Jazz arose in 19th century America from music brought from West Africa by slaves.  It is therefore not surprising that the many of the most successful jazz musicians come from the African American communities in the South.  While there is a common belief that Jazz was fermented only in urban centers like New Orleans and Chicago, an entire group of innovative jazz musicians traveled the American southwest in territory bands; bringing into being the “Kansas City” sound.  These nomadic orchestras traveled across the Midwest and south in trains, cars, and buses carrying quality jazz to the public and providing forums for young talent to develop.   Alphonse Trent was one of these “troubadours.”  He was born in Fort Smith Arkansas on August 24, 1905, played the piano as a child and began playing with local bands as a young man.  Trent started his first band at 18 and went on to lead one of the most famous of the Midwest bands, the Alphonse Trent Orchestra.   For ten years, the band traveled the circuit which included Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and the smaller towns in between.

The Alphonse Trent orchestra lasted only ten years and only recorded eight songs but it was a legend in its time.  Over its life, the Trent orchestra featured jazz greats Snub Mosley on trombone, Peanuts Holland and Terrence Holder on trumpets, and A.G. Godley on drums.  Although there were few recordings, the ones that do exist demonstrate the quality of the musicians and the elegance of the group.  Many of the soloists went on to successful careers of their own.
Sources: 

Scott Yanow, Jazz: a Regional Exploration (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2006); Potomac River Jazz Club, http://www.prjc.org/roots/williams.html; Doug Ramsey, Jazz Matters – Reflections on Some of its Makers (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1989); Joe Bailey, “The Texas Shuffle”: Lone Star Underpinnings of the Kansas City Jazz Sound. (Journal of Texas Music History: Volume 6, Issue 1, 2006); David Oliphant, Texan Jazz. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Forty Acres and a Mule

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Sharecroppers in the Post-Civil War South
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The phrase “forty acres and a mule” evokes the Federal government’s failure to redistribute land after the Civil War and the economic hardship that African Americans suffered as a result.  As Northern armies moved through the South at the end of the war, blacks began cultivating land abandoned by whites.  Rumors developed that land would be seized from Confederates, and given or sold to freedmen.  These rumors rested on solid foundations: abolitionists had discussed land redistribution at the beginning of the war, and in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln ordered 20,000 acres of land confiscated in South Carolina sold to freedmen in twenty-acre plots.  Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase expanded the offering to forty acres per family.  
Sources: 
Claude Oubre, Forty Acres and a Mule: The Freedmen’s Bureau and Black Land Ownership (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978); Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863-1877 (New York: Harper and Row, 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

54th Massachusetts Infantry (1863-1865)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Part of the Col. Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts
54th Infantry Regiment Memorial in Boston
Image Courtesy of Peter Walton
The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry was the first Northern black volunteer regiment enlisted to fight in the Civil War.  Its accomplished combat record led to the general recruitment of African-Americans as soldiers. They ultimately comprised ten percent of Union Army and Navy.  The Fifty-fourth’s successful campaign for equal pay also signaled a move toward racial justice in the military.
Sources: 
Martin H. Blatt, Thomas J. Brown, and Donald Yacovone (Eds.), Hope and Glory: Essays on the Legacy of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001); John David Smith (Ed.), Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); Susan Wilson, Boston Sites and Insights: A Multicultural Guide to Fifty Historic Landmarks in and Around Boston (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994). 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Smalls, Robert (1839-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Robert Smalls was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, on April 5, 1839 and worked as a house slave until the age of 12. At that point his owner, John K. McKee, sent him to Charleston to work as a waiter, ship rigger, and sailor, with all earnings going to McKee. This arrangement continued until Smalls was 18 when he negotiated to keep all but $15 of his monthly pay, a deal which allowed Smalls to begin saving money. The savings that he accumulated were later used to purchase his wife and daughter from their owner for a sum of $800. Their son was born a few years later.
Sources: 
Okon Edet Uya, From Slavery to Public Service, Robert Smalls 1839-1915 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971); Dorothy Sterling, Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls (New York: Pocket Books, 1978); Edward A. Miller, Gullah Statesman: Robert Smalls from Slavery to Congress, 1839-1915 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995); http://www.robertsmalls.org/
http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=S000502
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle