Sources for researching the history of African Americans in New Jersey. This guide highlights materials available from the New Jersey State Library's collections and is not intended to represent all information sources for this topic.
In Union County, New Jersey, many soldiers and sailors of African ancestry answered President Lincoln's call for troops during the Civil War and enlisted in regiments organized in Union County, the United States Colored Troops (USCT), out of-state-regiments and the United States Navy and Marine Corps. ¬They fought not only for country but also for their comrades in chains in the South and for the promise of equality that they had for so long been denied. ¬ rough their stories, never-before-seen photographs, documents and service records, local historian Ethel M. Washington tells a largely overlooked but riveting history of patriotic black servicemen in the North who defended the nation's ideals on the battle field even as they faced discrimination in the ranks and back home.
Scarlet and Black documents the history of Rutgers's connection to slavery, which was neither casual nor accidental--nor unusual. Like most early American colleges, Rutgers depended on slaves to build its campuses and serve its students and faculty; it depended on the sale of black people to fund its very existence. Men like John Henry Livingston, (Rutgers president from 1810-1824), the Reverend Philip Milledoler, (president of Rutgers from 1824-1840), Henry Rutgers, (trustee after whom the college is named), and Theodore Frelinghuysen, (Rutgers's seventh president), were among the most ardent anti-abolitionists in the mid-Atlantic. See also: the Scarlet and Black Project website.
This groundbreaking volume explores the archaeology of African American life and cultures in the Upper Mid-Atlantic region, using sites dating from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. Sites in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York are all examined, highlighting the potential for historical archaeology to illuminate the often overlooked contributions and experiences of the region's free and enslaved African American settlers.
Contrary to popular perception, slavery persisted in the North well into the nineteenth century. This was especially the case in New Jersey, the last northern state to pass an abolition statute, in 1804. Because of the nature of the law, which freed children born to enslaved mothers only after they had served their mother's master for more than two decades, slavery continued in New Jersey through the Civil War. Passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 finally destroyed its last vestiges.
In this intriguing book, Hendrik Hartog uses a forgotten 1840 case to explore the regime of gradual emancipation that took place in New Jersey over the first half of the nineteenth century. In Minna's case, white people fought over who would pay for the costs of caring for a dependent, apparently enslaved, woman. Hartog marks how the peculiar language mobilized by the debate--about care as a "mere voluntary courtesy"--became routine in a wide range of subsequent cases about "good Samaritans." Using Minna's case as a springboard, Hartog explores the statutes, situations, and conflicts that helped produce a regime where slavery was usually but not always legal and where a supposedly enslaved person may or may not have been legally free. In exploring this liminal and unsettled legal space, Hartog sheds light on the relationships between moral and legal reasoning and a legal landscape that challenges simplistic notions of what it meant to live in freedom. What emerges is a provocative portrait of a distant legal order that, in its contradictions and moral dilemmas, bears an ironic resemblance to our own legal world.
A comprehensive history of African Americans in New York City and its rural environs from the arrival of the first African--a sailor marooned on Manhattan Island in 1613--to the bloody Draft Riots of 1863. Throughout, he explores the intertwined themes of freedom and servitude, city and countryside, and work, religion, and resistance that shaped black life in the region through two and a half centuries.
This work reunites black and labor history, including the formation of slavery in the North, the American Revolution, blacks and the Workingmen's Movement, and interracial marriage before the Civil War.
James Collins Johnson was a Black man who escaped enslavement in Maryland and traveled to Princeton, New Jersey, where he was tried and sentenced to be returned to enslavement. Instead, he was purchased by local Princetonians and remained a servant of the University in perpetual pseudo-enslavement.
In this extended interview, conducted in 1883 on Sourland Mountain, New Jersey, Sylvia Dubois - then nearly one hundred years old - tells her life story to Dr. Cornelius Wilson Larison. No one knows for sure whether Dr. Larison's account of Sylvia's life is mostly history or mostly folklore. In either case, it remains a fascinating view of slave life and the life of the uneducated free black in the North during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Public domain: read online at Hathitrust
Manhood Enslaved reconstructs the lives of three male captives to bring greater intellectual and historical clarity to the muted lives of enslaved peoples in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century central New Jersey, where blacks were held in bondage for nearly two centuries.
In 1786, an enslaved man named Prime became one of only three enslaved people to be manumitted by act of the New Jersey legislature in exchange for his service during the Revolutionary War. More information about the manumission of Prime
For slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad, names like Springtown and Snow Hill promised sanctuary and salvation. Under the pressures of racial prejudice, free blacks, runaway slaves and even many Native Americans formed island communities on the periphery of South Jersey towns. While Lawnside and others continue to thrive today, "fringe communities"? like Marshalltown and Timbuctoo now exist only in memory.
Betty Livingston Adams examines the oft overlooked role of non-elite black women in the growth of northern suburbs and American Protestantism in the first half of the twentieth century. When a domestic servant named Violet Johnson moved to the affluent white suburb of Summit, New Jersey in 1897, she became one of just barely a hundred black residents in the town of six thousand. In this avowedly liberal Protestant community, the very definition of "the suburbs" depended on observance of unmarked and fluctuating race and class barriers. But Johnson did not intend to accept the status quo. Establishing a Baptist church a year later, a seemingly moderate act that would have implications far beyond weekly worship, Johnson challenged assumptions of gender and race, advocating for a politics of civic righteousness that would grant African Americans an equal place in a Christian nation.
On March 1, 1894, two African American men broke into a home in rural Franklin Park and murdered a white woman and her daughter before her husband fought and killed the attackers. The newspapers called it the "Franklin Park Tragedy," and the story captivated public attention nationally and abroad. Another tragedy came afterward, with the racist forced expulsion of many local African American residents. Author Brian Armstrong tells the shocking story of this "sundown town" and how it evolved into the diverse community that exists today.
Beginning in the 1880s, the economic realities and class dynamics of popular northern resort towns unsettled prevailing assumptions about political economy and threatened segregationist practices. Exploiting early class divisions, black working-class activists staged a series of successful protests that helped make northern leisure spaces a critical battleground in a larger debate about racial equality.
Liberty and equality required the sacrifices of many African Americans who lived and made a difference in New Jersey, including the Russell, Ham and Brown families whom Walter Greason documents in this book. This contemporary narrative of community uplift offers a fresh appreciation of just how long the path to justice is.
Suburbanization simultaneously erased the physical architecture of rural segregation in New Jersey and ideologically obscured the deepening, persistent injustices that became the War on Drugs and the prison-industrial complex. His solution for the twenty-first century involves the most fundamental effort to racially integrate state and local government conceived since the Reconstruction Era. Suburban Erasure is a must read for people concerned with democracy, human rights, and the future of civil society.
A heartfelt, and riveting biography of the short life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets-and of one's own nature-when he returns home.
Black New Jersey tells the rich and complex story of the African American community's remarkable accomplishments and the colossal obstacles they faced along the way. Drawing from rare archives, historian Graham Russell Gao Hodges brings to life the courageous black men and women who fought for their freedom and eventually built a sturdy and substantial middle class. He explores how the state's unique mix of religious, artistic, and cultural traditions have helped to produce such world-renowned figures as Paul Robeson, Cory Booker, and Queen Latifah, as well as a host of lesser-known but equally influential New Jersey natives.
In The Northside, Johnson brings the untold story of Atlantic City's black community vividly to life, from the arrival of the first African Americans to Absecon Island in the early 19th century through the glory days of the "World's Playground." Drawing on dozens of personal interviews and painstaking archival research, he reveals long-forgotten details about the people on whose backs the gambling mecca was built and offers a wide-ranging survey of the accomplishments of more recent generations.
This book gives an intimate look into the history of an African American National Historic Site that was located in Bordentown, New Jersey. It was known by many names: Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth; M.T.I.S.; or the Tuskegee of the North. Most commonly, however, it was called just the "Bordentown School." Bordentown was founded in 1886 by an ex-slave, Walter Allen Simpson Rice.
The case of the Trenton Six attracted international attention in its time (1948-1952) and was once known as the "northern Scottsboro Boys case." Yet, there is no memory of it. The shame of racism evident in the case has been nearly erased from the public record. Now, historian Cathy D. Knepper takes us back to the courtroom to make us aware of this shocking chapter in American history.
African American Women Writers in New Jersey, 1836-2000 is the first and only reference book to identify and document the lives, intellectual contributions, and publications of over one hundred African American women writers in the Garden State from 1836 through 2000. Many, such as Jessie Redmon Fauset, Alice Perry Johnson, Sharon Bell Mathis, Ntozake Shange, Claudia C. Tate, Ruby Ora Williams, and Marion Thompson Wright, were born in the state. Others, like Amina Baraka, E. Alma Flagg, Helen Jackson Lee, Gertrude Williams Pitts, and Dorothy Porter Wesley, although not born there, were residents of New Jersey for more than fifteen years, and made significant contributions during that time. Sibyl E. Moses has enhanced the text with characteristic excerpts from the poetry and prose of selected writers.
Newark's volatile past is infamous. The city has become synonymous with the Black Power movement and urban crisis. Its history reveals a vibrant and contentious political culture punctuated by traditional civic pride and an understudied tradition of protest in the black community.
Stories of Newark's postwar decline are easy to find. But in The Fixers, Julia Rabig supplements these tales of misery with the story of the many imaginative challenges to the city's decline mounted by Newark's residents and suburban neighbors, "fixers" who devised ways to work with limited resources and pull together the threads of a patchwork welfare state.
Founded in 1930 as the result of efforts by several black Catholic laywomen, Queen of Angels was the first African American Catholic congregation in Newark, New Jersey. The church quickly embarked on an outreach campaign that endured for decades and affected the entire Newark community - black and white, Catholic and Protestant. By the 1960's, many people looked to Queen of Angels as a model of social and civil rights activism.
Was New Jersey the most resistant to ending slavery among northern states, or was it a progressive place where former slaves found unique opportunities to pursue freedom, self determination, and defense from determined slave-catchers? The answer depends on where you look.
The North presents a multimedia, interactive website offering documentation and analysis of black resistance movements and community building activities in the urban north in the United States, from the 1950s to 2015, with a focus on the 1960s-70s.
"This dissertation examines abolition in New Jersey between 1770 and 1857. It argues that the American Revolution did not lead white New Jerseyans to abolish slavery. Instead, the Revolutionary War and the years following it reinforced the institution of slavery in the Garden State."
This collection includes texts, or links to texts at other sites, for published New Jersey statutes and court decisions about slavery. An annotated bibliography of statutes, cases, and secondary sources is provided, with links to the statute and case texts.