Tag: African American history

Imperfect Justice in the Imperfect Archive: Uncovering Extrajudicial Black Resistance in Richmond's Civil War Court Records

Imperfect Justice in the Imperfect Archive: Uncovering Extrajudicial Black Resistance in Richmond’s Civil War Court Records

As the guest editors and article authors of the December 2022 JCWE special issue, "Archives and Nineteenth-Century African American History" demonstrate, there is no perfect archive.  Historians must therefore read every imperfect archive with a particular perspicacity, to uncover the histories so many archives were meant to suppress or erase.[1] ...
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Printed newspaper ad for the return of a self-liberating African American woman.

For the Cause of Freedom: William Still and Abolitionist Data Collection

Emeline Chapman faced a difficult choice in the summer of 1856. As an enslaved woman in Washington, D.C., Chapman and her husband John Henry were raising a young family while enduring the daily struggles of enslavement. Chapman’s enslaver, Emily Thompson, profited by regularly hiring her out to different White residents ...
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Guest Editors' JCWE December 2023 Note: Researching Nineteenth-Century African American History

Guest Editors’ JCWE December 2023 Note: Researching Nineteenth-Century African American History

In 1985, The Historic New Orleans Collection purchased one of the few known nineteenth-century paintings of a free woman of color in the United States. François Fleischbein’s Portrait of a Free Woman of Color, completed in 1837, is mounted in an elaborate and expensive goldleaf frame. The woman wears a ...
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White clapboard house with a field and fence in background.

Walking with Enslaved and Enslavers at Pickett’s Charge (and Retreat)

Trampling down Black people and Black property in order to remake history, memory and geography was a quotidian activity in the post-Civil War United States. In the states that Robert E. Lee’s soldiers hailed from, this was often done with ugly, tortuous violence against Black southerners. In 1938, in the ...
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Capital Building in background with a large crowd in foreground of the sepia tone photograph.

“An Earthquake”: Lincoln’s First Inaugural, Fugitive Slave Rendition, and Virginia’s Secession

[Editor's Note: This article is adopted from Evan Turiano’s forthcoming  “‘Prophecies of Loss’: Debating Slave Flight During Virginia’s Secession Crisis,” which will appear in the September 2022 issue of the Journal of the Civil War Era. The Virginia secession convention was set into motion on November 15, 1860, barely a ...
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Historic map with a river at top and historic fort identified.

Haunted Former Safe Havens of Reconstruction

I had had enough of ghost stories as the author of a book about the Colfax Massacre.  I had discovered the awkwardness of being a white woman who became the expert on the suffering of Black people. And while no one had told me it was not right, I came ...
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Hollywood Has Yet to Capture the Relationship that Developed between African Americans and Lincoln

Hollywood Has Yet to Capture the Relationship that Developed between African Americans and Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln has been featured in movies since the dawn of cinema, but it’s only been in recent years that his connection with African Americans has gained significant attention. Released in 2012, two films highlighted the role of Black men and women in the Lincoln White House. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire ...
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Older Black man in gray hair standing next to a younger black man draped in a blanket and wearing a hat.

Reclaiming Roots for the Next Generation

Sometimes, a new historical study can raise new questions to previously discussed topics while reintroducing classic works with refreshing perspectives. Tyler D. Parry’s Jumping the Broom is one such work. Parry uncovers the complex and interconnected histories of Europeans, Africans, and African Americans' marital ceremonial practice of jumping the broom ...
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Newspaper text of ad

Enslaved children, trauma, and “American Family Values:” A Recap of the 2021 Southern’s SAWH Keynote

Though attendees lamented their inability to meet up for drinks afterward, the Southern Association for Women Historians’ annual keynote remained an illuminating and fascinating event. Judith Giesberg’s address "'I desire some information about my mother': Henry Tibbs' Search for His Mother and What It Can Tell Us about How Slavery ...
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Outdoor funeral procession

The Case for Posthumously Awarding André Cailloux The Congressional Medal of Honor

Now that a brigade of Confederate commanders has been hauled down from their pedestals, there’s scant consensus about what should take their place. In Richmond, Virginia, monumentalizing social justice activists is all the talk.  Kentucky leans toward a rotating cast of deserving figures from across the spectrum.[1] But in my ...
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Historical marker with text

Jousting with History-on-a-stick: Centering African American Women in Civil War Public History

In April 2021, Governor Ralph Northam announced that Virginia would add five new markers focused on African American history to its state historical marker program. Playfully referred to as "history-on-a-stick," historical markers are intended to inform passersby about a significant person, place, or event. As useful as they might be ...
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Congratulations to the Winner of The Journal of the Civil War Era’s George and Ann Richards Prize!

Congratulations to the Winner of The Journal of the Civil War Era’s George and Ann Richards Prize!

Catherine A. Jones has won the $1,000 George and Ann Richards Prize for the best article published in The Journal of the Civil War Era in 2020. The article, “The Trials of Mary Booth and the Post-Civil War Incarceration of African American Children,” appeared in the September 2020 issue. Drawn ...
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We’ve Always Been Here: Rediscovering African American Families in the U.S. Census

We’ve Always Been Here: Rediscovering African American Families in the U.S. Census

When I initially began examining United States Colored Troops (USCT) soldiers, I primarily focused on Civil War pension records. As previously noted, these rich primary sources can illuminate the forgotten lives of African Americans in many ways but do not (nor does any single historical record) tell the whole story ...
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Black Virginians in Blue: A Digital Project Studying Black Union Soldiers and Sailors from Albemarle County, Virginia

Black Virginians in Blue: A Digital Project Studying Black Union Soldiers and Sailors from Albemarle County, Virginia

For the last four years, the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia has been working to uncover the untold story of Albemarle County, Virginia’s Black men who served in the United States Colored Troops (USCT) or Union navy. Our project, which we ...
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Black Families’ Unending Fight for Equality: Teaching Civil War Pension Records

Black Families’ Unending Fight for Equality: Teaching Civil War Pension Records

When teaching the history of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), students often ask how we can find historical records from these historically marginalized people? Since many of the soldiers were working poor and formerly enslaved, they did not have (for various reasons) the time, resources, or (in some cases) ...
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Responding to the Call: Engaging the Public in Conversations about African American Civil War Participation

Responding to the Call: Engaging the Public in Conversations about African American Civil War Participation

Located at the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp, refuge to runaway slaves for over two centuries of American slavery, and connected to North Carolina’s coastline by a complex series of waterways, Elizabeth City and its surrounding rural counties present a verdant landscape filled with unknown, unspoken, or unwritten African ...
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