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Black History is American History: Perspectives from Historical Primary Sources

Posted on 02/23/2023

Explore Black history and American history with these resources and articles for research, teaching and learning. Discover more in the Readex blog archives.

Celebrating the Remarkable Life and Work of Frederick Douglass

While America’s Historical Newspapers includes The North Star, the forceful anti-slavery newspaper Douglass began publishing in Rochester, New York, in 1847, America’s Historical Imprints contains a wealth of primary source material recording, remembering...More



'Forwarded as Merchandise': News Coverage of Henry Box Brown’s Remarkable Quest for Freedom 

As an enslaved man, Henry Brown’s experience was not atypical; he was allowed to marry and have children, but as human property he and his family could be permanently separated from each other on a slaveholder’s whim. His escape from slavery, however, was anything but typical. Details of Brown’s life...More




“A Blessing No Doubt”: Works of Parody and Satire in the Anti-slavery Cause

The March release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes two works that employ parody and satire to counter the arguments of the pro-slavery faction...More



Illustrated Comic or Satirical Publications in Afro-Americana Imprints

Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several illustrated comic or satirical works published in the 19th century...More



Why de dickens?: The Lampooning of African Americans as an American Form of Entertainment 

Included in the second release of Nineteenth-Century American Drama: Popular Culture and Entertainment, 1820-1900, are several minstrel plays. Developed in the United States beginning in the 1830s...More



‘Imagination! Who can sing thy force?’—Highlights from Black Authors 

The January release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes: a description of the first major yellow fever epidemic in the United States, a collection of verse by an African slave who became a leading American poet...More



“A common railer and brawler”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection

The May release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a document arguing that slavery enslaves the owners as well as the enslaved, written by a woman who had...More


Rebellion, Riot, and Mutiny: Compelling Criminal Trials in Afro-American Imprints

A recent release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922, includes compelling accounts of several significant criminal trials. Five of these, spanning the years 1824 to 1851, are highlighted below...More



Noyes Complaints: A White Mob (and 90 Yoke of Oxen) Drag a Racially Integrated School from Its Foundations in 1835 New Hampshire 

Blame it on a literal reading of the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1834, the New Hampshire state legislature granted a charter to found Noyes Academy in the rural Town of Canaan. Because the Declaration of Independence made no distinction as to the...More



‘Mutterings of Pent-up Wrath’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints

The July release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes examinations of slavery and the slave trade by a poet, an abolitionist society, and a Methodist minister...More



“A Land under the Curse of Slavery”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection

The February release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes letters of dissent from within the Presbyterian Church, a compilation of judicial biographies...More



The Early Histories of HBCUs

Part 1: Howard University

“This institution bids fair to do great good.” — New York Evening Post (1867)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities, commonly referred to as HBCUs, have graduated tens of thousands of men and women who have achieved professional, political...More



Part 2: Fisk University and the Jubilee Singers

Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee opened on January 9, 1866 more than year before Howard University. While Howard was beset by controversy from its beginning, Fisk seems to have had a considerably less...More




Part 3: Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee Institute

Booker Taliaferro Washington was born April 5, 1856 in Virginia the son of an enslaved woman named Jane who later, after emancipation, was able to reunite with her husband, Washington Ferguson, in West Virginia. Booker’s father...More




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