From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up–The approximately 700 main and subentries in African American History
include biographies both of prominent African Americans and of other influential figures, such as John Brown and Lydia Maria Child, along with discussions of wider topics, such as Stereotypes of African Americans. The articles close with numerous cross-references and meaty bibliographies, enhanced in the final volume by a detailed chronology (to 1895) and index. Articles analyzing the racial attitudes of major Founding Fathers and each president, plus others that tackle many seldom-examined subjects, such as African Americans in the shipbuilding caulker's trade or relations with immigrant Asians, exemplify the unusual depth of coverage here. Palmer's expanded version of Culture and History
widens the North American focus of the original (Gale, 1996) and its 2001 supplement to include topics and people in Caribbean and Latin American history. Comprising reprints, new contributions, and updated entries in roughly equal numbers, the 1300 alphabetically arranged articles range from three paragraphs on novelist William Attaway to multipage surveys of Social Dance, Afrocubanismo, and other broad subjects. Each entry closes with a bibliography, and nearly all feature cross-references. The previous edition contained more than twice as many illustrations, but this one improves access to its many updated charts and tables by moving them to a separate volume, which also features more than 130 pages of primary-source documents and a comprehensive index. Both sets merit consideration for collections supporting academically oriented research, but next to Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s essential, monumental Africana
(Oxford Univ., 2005), they make supplemental purchases.–John Peters, New York Public Library
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*Starred Review* As researchers discover more layers of African American history, it becomes increasingly difficult to contain the whole sweep of African American experience in a few reference volumes. This set from Oxford concentrates on history during a relatively short period and is to be followed in 2007 by a second set, The Encyclopedia of African American History,
1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century. The division between the two sets is based on the fact that Douglass died in 1895, and Plessy
which ushered in segregation, was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1896.
The goal of both encyclopedias, as editor Finkelman explains in his introduction, is "not only to educate and teach people about black history, but, more importantly to show users of these volumes how the history of America is, to a great extent, the history of race and race relations." In the set under review, more than 700 alphabetically arranged entries cover aspects of daily life ( Childhood, Food, Work); concepts ( Acculturation, Perfectionism); events ( American Revolution, Harpers Ferry raid); institutions ( Democratic Party, Howard University); movements ( Great Awakening; Slave resistance; Suffrage, women's); and places (Brazil, Detroit, Kentucky) as well as topics in the arts ( Minstrel shows, Oratory and verbal arts); law ( Jim Crow car laws, Missouri Compromise, Voting rights); religion ( African Methodist Episcopal Church, Baptism, Black theology); and more. A substantial number of entries are biographical.
Entries range in length from 500 to 1,200 words, and each includes a bibliography. Composite articles, among them Black nationalism, Native Americans and African Americans, and Slave narratives, contain subentries with separate bibliographies. In volume 3 readers will find the directory of contributors, a list of entries arranged under broad topics, a chronology, and a detailed index. Approximately 300 black-and-white images are scattered throughout the text.
This is the third major set on African Americans to be published in the past year. The second editions of both Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (also from Oxford) and Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History: The Black Experience in the Americas (Macmillan) encompass wider geographical areas as well a broader range of topics. All three sets have many entry headings in common, but the tighter focus of The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895 means it has a place for African Grove Theater; Burned-Over District, New York; Caulker's trade (practiced mostly by African Americans, including Douglass, before the Civil War); Florence Settlement; Franklin, Benjamin, and African Americans; and many other topics covered only peripherally, if at all, in the other sets. Libraries that can afford just one set might do better with Africana or the Macmillan encyclopedia because they cover more ground and have more visual appeal. The latest Oxford set is highly recommended for all academic and large public libraries and any library specializing in African American studies. Mary Ellen Quinn
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