Afro-American Imprints


‘Catch the Itch’: Three Newly Digitized Works from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

The January release of Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a 17th-century report on the British territories across the Atlantic, an 18th-century essay on diseases of the West Indies and their remedies, and a 19th-century collection of casually racist drawings.


 

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The Present State of His Majesties Isles and Territories in America (1687)

By Richard Blome

Richard Blome (1635-1705) was an English author and cartographer. His report on the American Territories is accompanied by maps, astronomical charts, and “a table by which, at any time of the day or night here in England, you may know what hour it is in any of those parts.”

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In addition to charts and tables, Blome’s book contains thrilling descriptions of the natural world of the Caribbean. Here’s his account of dangers beneath the surface of the seas around Antigua.

‘Catch the Itch’: Three Newly Digitized Works from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

The current release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes three important perspectives on African Americans in the armed forces. John Henry Paynter writes of being a cabin-boy in the U.S. Navy and seeing much of the world in the late-19th century; Theophilus Gould Steward, himself a Buffalo Soldier, explores the role of African Americans in American military conflicts from the Revolution to the Spanish-American War; and Kelly Miller presents an account of the contributions of African Americans in World War I.


Joining the Navy: Abroad with Uncle Sam (1895)

By John Henry Paynter

I believe that the public generally desires to be informed somewhat of the personal history of the author whose work engages their attention; in deference to that impression I may say briefly that I was born at New Castle, Delaware, on the 15th of February, 1862, in the house where my paternal grandmother now lives. My father came to Washington…in 1858…having been given a place under the government. My mother, whom I do not remember, survived but a little while the birth of my sister, who in turn after a few brief months followed her into the angel land.

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

“Doubt, darkness and mystery”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The October release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes the autobiography of an African prince; an account by an African American missionary, sailor, and minister; and an early 19th-century murder mystery.


A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw: An African Prince (1774)

By Ukawsaw Gronniosaw

James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw’s own Narrative was the only major source of his life story until an obituary dated October 2, 1775, was uncovered in a U.K. newspaper:

On Thursday died, in this city, aged 70, James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African prince, of Zoara. He left the country in the early part of his life, with a view to acquire proper notions of the Divine Being, and the worship due to Him. He met with many trials and embarrassments, was much afflicted and persecuted. His last moments exhibited that cheerful serenity which, at such a time, is the certain effect of a thorough conviction of the great truths of Christianity. He published a narrative of his life.

Gronniosaw’s “trials and embarrassments” included being sold into slavery and brought to New York via Barbados where he was sold again. He would eventually gain his freedom, serve in Martinique and Cuba as a soldier in the British army, and, upon his discharge, cross the Atlantic to England. Gronniosaw’s slave narrative is thought to be the first autobiography published by an African in Britain. He begins his chronicle by describing his early life and inquisitive nature:

“Doubt, darkness and mystery”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“Ventilated Crudities, Absurdities, and Blasphemies”: African Exploration, Abolition, Women’s Rights, and Voodoo

From an 18th-century report on an African expedition to a 19th-century compilation of American folklore, the February 2015 release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922, contains a wide variety of valuable documents, all from the holdings of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Additional highlights include a work by Harriet Beecher Stowe describing the foundation and inspiration for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a compilation of her articles promoting women’s rights, and an autobiography by James Still, illustrating some of the best and worst aspects of 19th-century America.

A Narrative of Four Journeys into the Country of the Hottentots, and Caffraria (1789)
By Lieut. William Paterson
“Ventilated Crudities, Absurdities, and Blasphemies”: African Exploration, Abolition, Women’s Rights, and Voodoo

The Back-to-Africa Movement, American Colonization Society, and the Know Somethings

The July release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia has several items about the American Colonization Society and the movement to return freedman to Africa. Founded in 1816, the American Colonization Society was a coalition between two distinct groups: abolitionist evangelicals and Quakers on one side, and, on the other, slaveholders who saw in the repatriation of freedmen a way to prevent slave rebellions. Beginning in 1821, thousands of freedmen would eventually emigrate from the United States to what would become the Republic of Liberia.

A Sermon, Preached at New-Ark, October 22d, 1823, Before the Synod of New-Jersey, for the Benefit of the African School, under the Care of the Synod. By Samuel Miller, D.D., Professor in the Theological Seminary at Princeton (1823)
The Back-to-Africa Movement, American Colonization Society, and the Know Somethings

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