Catalogue


Black Gotham : a family history of African Americans in nineteenth-century New York City /
Carla L. Peterson.
imprint
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2011.
description
ix, 446 p.
ISBN
0300162553 (cloth), 9780300162554 (cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2011.
isbn
0300162553 (cloth)
9780300162554 (cloth)
catalogue key
7450323
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Frederick Douglass Prize, USA, 2012 : Nominated
New York City Book Awards, USA, 2011 : Won
PSP Prose Awards, USA, 2011 : Nominated
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2011-02-15:
Armed only with the name of her great-grandfather, Peterson (English, Univ. of Maryland, College Park; Doers of the Word: African-American Women Speakers and Writers in the North [1830-1880]) entered the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem with the hope of documenting her family's history. She was lucky. While examining an old manuscript collection, she happened upon two pages, evidently once part of a scrapbook. On one of these pages was a detailed newspaper obituary of Philip Augustus White, her great-grandfather. The obituary contained names of friends, associates, and organizations, giving Peterson the ammunition to launch a detailed study of her family and of black life in 19th-century New York City. Peterson's exhaustive research, fueled by her passion to discover her family roots, has produced a detailed and fascinating glimpse of life for the elite members of the African American community in the nation's largest city during the 1800s. VERDICT Peterson has produced a monumental account that is not well known to most Americans. Scholars, African Americans, New Yorkers, and history buffs will all find the book worthwhile.-Robert Bruce Slater, Stroudsburg, PA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2011-07-01:
Despite a misleading title and subtitle--the former claims too much and the latter too little--this study effectively demonstrates how a family history can make a major contribution to a community's history. The book provides important insight into the author's family's 19th-century experience and that of an emerging elite black community in New York City and Brooklyn. Peterson (English, Maryland) places her story in five concentric worlds. She masterfully interweaves the first two, family and community history; the latter comprised friends, neighbors, St. Philip's Episcopal Church congregants, school classmates, and members' other community organizations. Friends included major figures of the period: James McCune Smith, Alexander Crummell, and Henry Highland Garnet. Other worlds are contextual and less developed: the cities' histories, black elites elsewhere, and universal elite culture. As with white elite Knickerbocker society, black elites emerged as a shopkeeping aristocracy; they also had important ties to white elites. Unlike white elites, they experienced both discrimination and violence, most notably in the 1863 draft riots. There are holes in the story resulting from limited sources and the book's structure, but this is a well-researched and written book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. J. Borchert emeritus, Cleveland State University
Reviews
Review Quotes
Won Honorable Mention in the 2012 New York Book Festival General Non-Fiction category, sponsored by the New York Book Festival
Winner of the 2011 New York City Book Awards sponsored by the New York Society Library. The winning book must evoke the spirit of New York City, with the city playing an essential, invigorating role beyond that of the setting.
Won an Honorable Mention for the 2011 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) in the U.S. History category, as given by the Association of American Publishers
Won Honorable Mention in the 2011 New York Book Festival Biography/Autobiography Category, sponsored by the New York Book Festival
"What makes her seminal opus so significant is how she painstakingly reconstructs her forefathers'' past in light of the overall African-American struggle for emancipation and equality in the 1800s. . . . Calra Peterson''s overdue tribute to her intrepid ancestors [is] an invaluable addition to the annals of African-American literature."Kam Williams, Arizona Informant
" Black Gotham challenges many of the so-called truths about African-American history." The Prince George''s Post
" Black Gotham is a wonderful and rare portrait of New York City, told through the lens of a truly remarkable African-American family. Peterson''s historical detective work is fascinating."Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher
"Black Gothamis a wonderful and rare portrait of New York City, told through the lens of a truly remarkable African-American family. Peterson''s historical detective work is fascinating."Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author ofThe Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher
"Carla Peterson''s Black Gotham is at once a tender labor of love and a tour de force of historical scholarship; both a romantic journey into her family''s past and a clear-eyed restoration of an essential, long-lost element in a people''s history. A story of New York, it resounds with implications for all of America. Peterson deserves our rapt attention and our gratitude."Arnold Rampersad, Stanford University
"Carla Peterson''sBlack Gothamis at once a tender labor of love and a tour de force of historical scholarship; both a romantic journey into her family''s past and a clear-eyed restoration of an essential, long-lost element in a people''s history. A story of New York, it resounds with implications for all of America. Peterson deserves our rapt attention and our gratitude."Arnold Rampersad, Stanford University
"Carla Peterson''s Black Gotham presents the best, most detailed portrait of New York City's nineteenth-century black elite. Using her own search for her family roots as a thread to pull the reader through the narrative, Peterson provides insight into the work lives, political roles, and personal lives of this small but highly influential group of black New Yorkers."Leslie M. Harris, Emory University
"Carla Peterson''sBlack Gothampresents the best, most detailed portrait of New York City's nineteenth-century black elite. Using her own search for her family roots as a thread to pull the reader through the narrative, Peterson provides insight into the work lives, political roles, and personal lives of this small but highly influential group of black New Yorkers."Leslie M. Harris, Emory University
"Carla Peterson travels the well known streets of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn to uncover the rich and hidden history of New York''s black elite in the nineteenth century. That the book arose from her research into her own family history reminds us that in all of our families lies the story of this country."Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
"Dr. Peterson took a hard, uphill journey to give greater life to the 'scraps' she had about her family in nineteenth-century New York City and returned with a vital gift for all of us. It is a gift that not only offers a portrait of her family in that city but a larger, fairly unknown view of a pre-Harlem integrated society where many blacks were prosperous, enlightened, and thriving. Her book is a precious addition to the paucity of information we have about what blacks have done to make New York City and, indeed, America itself."Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Known World
"Dr. Peterson took a hard, uphill journey to give greater life to the 'scraps' she had about her family in nineteenth-century New York City and returned with a vital gift for all of us. It is a gift that not only offers a portrait of her family in that city but a larger, fairly unknown view of a pre-Harlem integrated society where many blacks were prosperous, enlightened, and thriving. Her book is a precious addition to the paucity of information we have about what blacks have done to make New York City and, indeed, America itself."Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning author ofThe Known World
Honorable Mention for the 2011 PROSE Award in U.S. History, as given by the Association of American Publishers.
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, February 2011
Library Journal, February 2011
Choice, July 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Part detective tale, part social and cultural narrative,Black Gothamis Carla Peterson's riveting account of her quest to reconstruct the lives of her nineteenth-century ancestors. As she shares their stories and those of their friends, neighbors, and business associates, she illuminates the greater history of African-American elites in New York City. Black Gothamchallenges many of the accepted "truths" about African-American history, including the assumption that the phrase "nineteenth-century black Americans" means enslaved people, that "New York state before the Civil War" refers to a place of freedom, and that a black elite did not exist until the twentieth century. Beginning her story in the 1820s, Peterson focuses on the pupils of the Mulberry Street School, the graduates of which went on to become eminent African-American leaders. She traces their political activities as well as their many achievements in trade, business, and the professions against the backdrop of the expansion of scientific racism, the trauma of the Civil War draft riots, and the rise of Jim Crow. Told in a vivid, fast-paced style,Black Gothamis an important account of the rarely acknowledged achievements of nineteenth-century African Americans and brings to the forefront a vital yet forgotten part of American history and culture.
Main Description
Part detective tale, part social and cultural narrative, Black Gotham is Carla Peterson's riveting account of her quest to reconstruct the lives of her nineteenth-century ancestors. As she shares their stories and those of their friends, neighbors, and business associates, she illuminates the greater history of African-American elites in New York City. Black Gotham challenges many of the accepted "truths" about African-American history, including the assumption that the phrase "nineteenth-century black Americans" means enslaved people, that "New York state before the Civil War" refers to a place of freedom, and that a black elite did not exist until the twentieth century. Beginning her story in the 1820s, Peterson focuses on the pupils of the Mulberry Street School, the graduates of which went on to become eminent African-American leaders. She traces their political activities as well as their many achievements in trade, business, and the professions against the backdrop of the expansion of scientific racism, the trauma of the Civil War draft riots, and the rise of Jim Crow. Told in a vivid, fast-paced style, Black Gotham is an important account of the rarely acknowledged achievements of nineteenth-century African Americans and brings to the forefront a vital yet forgotten part of American history and culture.
Bowker Data Service Summary
This work challenges many of the accepted 'truths' about African-American history, including the assumption that the phrase '19th-century black Americans' means enslaved people, that 'New York state before the Civil War' refers to a place of freedom, and that black elite did not exist until the 20th century.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
A Note on Languagep. ix
Prologue: Family, Memory, Historyp. 1
Lower Manhattan, 1795-1865
Collect Street: Circa 1819p. 35
The Mulberry Street School: Circa 1828p. 63
The Young Graduates: Circa 1834p. 93
Community Building: Circa 1840p. 117
A Black Aristocracy: Circa 1847p. 147
Whimsy and Resistance: Circa 1853p. 188
The Draft Riots: July 1863p. 223
Union and Disunion: Circa 1864p. 261
Brooklyn, 1865-1895
Peter Guignon's Private Wars: Circa 1862p. 283
Philip White in Brooklyn: Circa 1875p. 310
New Women, New Men at Century's Endp. 345
Epilogue: Commemorationsp. 385
Notesp. 395
Bibliographyp. 415
Indexp. 431
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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