30 May 2011

African History in the U.S.--References

Regarding a request to provide some resources for those interested in the history of Africans in the U.S (North and South) before WWII, we present the following short bibliography, with comments to help guide you to something of possible interest.  

[Links provided where online versions are available.  Online libraries charging a small yearly fee are a treasure trove for such sources; we, for example, highly recommend Questia.]


Bonger, Willem Adriaan. Race and Crime. (Trans. Margaret Mathews Hordyk.) New York: Columbia University Press, 1943.

(Has many tables comparing violent crime between Jews and non-Jews, between Nordics, Alpines, Mediterraneans, Baltics, as well as African-Americans, from late 1800s / early 1900s.  Fascinating.)

Braun, Gedaliah, Racism, Guilt, and Self-Deceit, Johannesburg, Jan Lamprecht, 2007. 

(Yes, this is Africa the continent, but it's an odd and interesting counterpiece.   J. Taylor: "Fascinating observations of an American who has lived in Africa for nearly 30 years. He systematically started asking Africans—even virtual strangers—what they thought about racial differences and whether they were in favor of black rule. Unlike most whites, who would be ashamed to ask such questions, Dr. Braun is utterly uninhibited.  Dr. Braun puts it this way:  '(1) Blacks cannot manage a modern industrial democratic society; (2) blacks know this and would never think of denying it were it not for white liberals insisting otherwise; (3) except for those black elites who hope to take power, black rule is in no one’s interest, especially not blacks; (4) blacks know this better than anyone and are terrified of black rule.'")

Burgess, John W. Reconstruction and the Constitution, 1866-1876. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1902.

(Constitutional lawyer from Tennessee unhappy with the system imposed by the North after the Civil War explains, in well-documented and eye-opening detail, the reasons for his unhappiness.)

(Some chapter headings: Chapter I: The Theory of Reconstruction, Chapter II: President Lincoln's Views and Acts in Regard To Reconstruction, Chapter III: President Johnson's Plan of Reconstruction And His Proceedings in Realization of It, Chapter IX: The Attempt to Remove the President, Chapter XI: President Grant and Reconstruction, Chapter XII: "A Carpet-Bag" and Negro Domination in The Southern States Between 1868 and 1876, Chapter XIII: The Presidential Election of 1876 and Its Consequences, Chapter XIV: International Relations of the United States Between 1867 and 1877)

Collins, Winfield H., The Truth About Lynching and the Negro in the South, New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1918.   


(Don't let the extremely provocative title scare you off.  When you get past the 'defending lynching' part, there is a veritable wealth of historical documentation in the book on Africans in the U.S., re: health, housing, education, employment, wealth level, religion, crime, demographic trends, etc., most of it drawn from public records of the time.  Essential resource for the subject of "Africans in the U.S., history.")

DuBois, W. E.B. The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1899.  


(The classic 1899 study by W.E.B. DuBois, first African-American to hold a Fellowship at the U. of Pennsylvania.)

(Some chapter headings:  Chapter III: The Negro in Philadelphia, 1638-1820., Chapter IV: The Negro in Philadelphia, 1820-1896., Chapter V: The Size, Age and Sex of the Negro Population., Chapter VI: Conjugal Condition., Chapter VIII: Education and Illiteracy., Chapter IX: The Occupations of Negroes., Chapter X: The Health of Negroes., Chapter XI: The Negro Family., Chapter XIII: The Negro Criminal., Chapter XIV: Pauperism and Alcoholism., Chapter XV: The Environment of the Negro., Chapter XVI: The Contact of the Races., Chapter XVII: Negro Suffrage..)

Moton, Robert Russa. What the Negro Thinks. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran and Company, Inc., 1929.

(Moton succeeded Booker T. Washington as head of the Tuskegee Institute.  Excellent snapshot of African life in the U.S. in the 1920s.  Chapters on housing, education, suffrage, the law, and various discriminations suffered.)

Murphey, Dwight D., Lynching: History and Analysis , Washington, D.C.: Journal of Social and Economic Studies Legal-Studies Monograph, 1995.


(Very recent monograph on the question, by law professor Dwight Murphey.  This is not just a history of African-American lynching, but of the practice in general, one which many forget was practiced in many times and places, on people of all races.  A thoughtful, well-sourced analysis.)

Page, Thomas Nelson. The Negro: The Southerner's Problem. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1904.

(1904 work by a Southerner who is very nostalgic for the antebellum era, and it shows on every page.  But if this dripping emotional attachment doesn't put you off, there is some decent info. here on the condition of Africans in the antebellum South, particularly the large number of skilled artisan slaves who worked in the trades, little-known subject which he spends a lot of time on.)

Redding, J. Saunders. On Being Negro in America. Indianapolis: Charter Books, 1962.

(Unusual book by an unusual man.  Saunders, man of letters, first African-American Chair at Cornell University, writes the narrative of his life—growing up, attending college, raising two boys—in the pre-Civil Rights Act American North.  Cynical, biting, heartbreaking.  His telling, in Chapter 12, the story of the first time his naïve eight-year-old son experiences racism will puncture any but the hardest of hearts.  Afro-, Euro-, Hispanic, whomever you are, if you're American, don't miss this.  It's your history.  Available on Questia.)

Reuter, Edward Byron.  The American Race Problem: A Study of the Negro. Ed. Seba Eldridge. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1927.

(Great sociologist of his day, his doctoral dissertation 'The Mulatto in the United States' won him highest honors at the U. of Chicago in 1919.  Serious, well-sourced study, with chapters on health, employment, family life, discrimination and assimilation, delinquency, religion, culture.  Very thorough treatment of the lynching question (with detailed statistics) in Chap. XV, 'Crimes Against the Negro.'  Highly recommended.)

Richburg, Keith B. Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa. 1st ed. New York: Basic Books, 1997.

(Not African-American history exactly, but compelling reading.  Journalist in Africa during the 1990s, came to some conclusions about its peoples that really upset most of the African-American community.  Brutally honest.  Highly recommended.)

Thomas, William Hannibal. The American Negro: A Study in Racial Crossing. New York: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1901. (entirely available online)


(Dubbed the 'Black Judas' by African-American leaders of his time, this Mulatto lawyer and theologian has written one of the most incendiary books on the question of the 'Negro in America.'  Reviled and denounced by many, it is a brutal and unsparing condemnation of what he took to be the very worst traits in America's Africans in his time.  Such visceral disgust I have scarcely seen from the pen of the most virulent Euro-American separatist.  There is truth here, but it is dressed in some very harsh language.  Proceed with caution.)

Any other suggestions would be welcome.  We shouldn't charge into the future without knowing our past.

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