From School Library Journal
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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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