[Reblogged from: Diaspora Hypertext, the Blog]
In 1925 Carter G. Woodson and his Association for the Study of Negro Life and History created Negro History Week. A half century later, during the U.S. bicentennial, this formal period for recognizing African American contributions to our national history was expanded to a month. At that time President Gerald Ford asked Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” During this 2014 celebration of African American History month, Readex is pleased to highlight these five new and recent resources:
via Prince William County, Virginia Digital Library
“The latest addition to our Digital Library is Joan W. Peters’ work, Slave and Free Negro Records from the Prince William County Court Minute and Order Books, 1752-1763, 1766-1769, 1804-1806, 1812-1814, 1833-1865 (Broad Run, Va.: Albemarle Research, 1996). Click on the following link http://eservice.pwcgov.org/library/digitalLibrary/index.htm and find it under Historic Records, 1700-1800. It covers all mentions of African Americans found in those records, including registrations of slaves and free Negroes, emancipations, arrests and lawsuits. The database is keyword searchable (use CTRL+F). It does not cover persons mentioned in deeds, wills, inventories, sales or tax lists. There are also gaps in the court minutes as shown in the years of coverage. We are grateful to Joan for allowing us to post her work online.”
For more: Historic Wanderings: PWC RELIC Digitizes Peters’ Slave and Free Negro Records from the Prince William County Court Minute and Order Books, 1752-1763, 1766-1769, 1804-1806, 1812-1814, 1833-1865.
Marc-Antoine Caillot, A Company Man: The Remarkable French-Atlantic Voyage of a Clerk for the Company of the Indies. Edited by Erin M. Greenwald. 1st ed. The Historic New Orleans Collection, 2013.
via the Historic New Orleans Collection:
Recently rediscovered and never before published, Marc-Antoine Caillot’s buoyant memoir recounts a young man’s voyage from Paris to the port city of Lorient, across the Atlantic to Saint Domingue, and up the Mississippi River to New Orleans. Only twenty-one when he set sail as a clerk for the French Company of the Indies in 1729, Caillot was in many ways the ultimate company man. His descriptions of flora, fauna, and native peoples mirror the sentiments and literary conventions of his class and his era. He would spend his entire adult life in service to the company, rising high in its ranks before dying, at the age of fifty-one, in a shipwreck off the coast of India.
Yet in other ways Caillot was fully his own man, possessed of a voice both witty and prescient. An incorrigible rake—if not an outright rogue—he documents with gusto a string of pranks, parties, and romantic escapades. A persuasive self-promoter, he stakes narrative claim to New World terrain. And he speaks with immediacy across the centuries, illuminating racial and ethnic politics, environmental concerns, and the birth of New Orleans’s distinctive cultural mélange.
Brilliantly introduced and annotated by Erin Greenwald, translated by Teri Chalmers, and enlivened by Caillot’s own exquisite illustrations, A Company Man provides an intimate look at the early history of one of America’s most storied cities, placing New Orleans—and the fledgling colony it anchored—within the nexus of the French-Atlantic empire.
The original manuscript, Relation du voyage de la Louisianne ou Nouvelle France fait par le Sr. Caillot en l’année 1730, is housed in the Williams Research Center of The Historic New Orleans Collection, where it is a capstone of the institution’s rich archival holdings documenting life in French-colonial Louisiana.
Spanning nearly 5,000 years and documenting virtually all forms of media, the Image of the Black in Western Art Research Project and Photo Archive is an unprecedented research project devoted to the systematic investigation of how people of African descent have been perceived and represented in art.
Started in 1960 by Jean and Dominique de Mänil in reaction to the continuing existence of segregation in the United States, the Archive contains photographs of approximately 30,000 works of art, each one of which is extensively documented and categorized by the Archive’s staff. For the first thirty years of the project’s existence, the project focused on the production of a prize-winning, four-volume series of generously illustrated books, The Image of the Black in Western Art.
Since moving to Harvard in 1994, the project is focused on the production of the final volume of The Image of the Black in Western Art and expanding access to the Archive itself (prior to its arrival at Harvard, the Archive was only available to scholars working on the published volumes). The Institute hosts conferences, fellowships for scholars, seminars, and exhibitions on issues raised by the Archive, including the African American Art Conference in 2004.
via Image of the Black in Western Art Research Project and Photo Archive | W.E.B. Du Bois Institute. A selection of documents are available online via ArtStor ($$)
For those of us who work with historical photographs (particularly images from the nineteenth century, when the medium was still in its infancy) there are few things more thrilling than stumbling on an image we didn’t know existed. But finding and then identifying historical photographs with any certainty, particularly the subjects in them, is tricky business. Retrieving the story behind the image—who took it, of whom, and why—can often be near impossible.
So I was surprised last week to see an AP story about a “rare” photograph of slave children. The accompanying image—purportedly of two boys, either enslaved or just recently freed, from North Carolina taken in the 1860s dressed in ragged clothes, seated on a wooden barrel, posed for the camera—intrigued me for several reasons. For one, my own reading of the image was quite different from what was described in the wire article and subsequent reports (recent sleuthing by collectors supports my suspicions, as I’ll explain). Second, the eagerness to accept the authenticity of this image as a reflection of daily life in the South in this era is based on, at best, a shallow reading of the history of black children in the photography of this period. Finally, the shock the image of “slave children” seemed to give reporters and readers, and even some experts, makes it clear that the picture of antebellum slavery most people hold in their heads is an outdated one. If they imagine Southern plantations were sustained largely by the sweat and blood by enslaved adults, the work of recent historians has brought another view to light, one in which young people made up the majority of the enslaved…
Read the rest at the History News Network: Portrait or Postcard? The Controversy over a “Rare” Photograph of Slave Children.