New Encyclopedia of African-American History Now Available
Over the past few years Oxford University Press has been collecting entries for a 3-volume encyclopedia of African-American history. Volume 2 is titled The World of Frederick Douglass, 1817-1895 and can be purchased separately for a whopping $120. Wait for the sale. The entries cover a broad range of topics, but even topics that focus on national issues make it a point to refernce Douglass. I took on the entry for the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It would have liked to have taken on a few more, but time simply didn’t permit it. The series is edited by Paul Finkelman and promises to be the most complete collection of entries and primary sources available. Here is a description from the OUP website:
The Encyclopedia covers an extraordinary range of subjects. Major topics such as "Abolitionism," "Black Nationalism," the "Civil War," the "Dred Scott case," "Reconstruction," "Slave Rebellions and Insurrections," the "Underground Railroad," and "Voting Rights" are given the in-depth treatment one would expect. But the encyclopedia also contains hundreds of fascinating entries on less obvious subjects, such as the "African Grove Theatre," "Black Seafarers," "Buffalo Soldiers," the "Catholic Church and African Americans," "Cemeteries and Burials," "Gender," "Midwifery," "New York African Free Schools," "Oratory and Verbal Arts," "Religion and Slavery," the "Secret Six," and much more. In addition, the Encyclopedia offers brief biographies of important African Americans-as well as white Americans who have played a significant role in African American history-from Crispus Attucks, John Brown, and Henry Ward Beecher to Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, Sarah Grimke, Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner, Phillis Wheatley, and many others.
All of the Encyclopedia’s alphabetically arranged entries are accessibly written and free of jargon and technical terms. To facilitate ease of use, many composite entries gather similar topics under one headword. The entry for Slave Narratives, for example, includes three subentries: The Slave Narrative in America from the Colonial Period to the Civil War, Interpreting Slave Narratives, and African and British Slave Narratives. A headnote detailing the various subentries introduces each composite entry. Selective bibliographies and cross-references appear at the end of each article to direct readers to related articles within the Encyclopedia and to primary sources and scholarly works beyond it. A topical outline, chronology of major events, nearly 300 black and white illustrations, and comprehensive index further enhance the work’s usefulness.
I am going to try to convince my librarian to purchase the set. It’s been a real pleasure taking part in such a worthy and scholarly project.