From Publishers Weekly
This groundbreaking collection, which is slated to be published in conjunction with the fall 2005 Slavery and the Making of New York exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, chronicles and analyzes New York City's African-American presence, both slave and free, from the 17th-century to the end of the 19th century. The 1991 discovery of the city's extensive African burial ground highlighted slavery's centrality to New York history, a fact editors Berlin (Many Thousands Gone) and Harris (In the Shadow of Slavery) further delineate (e.g., slaves made up over a quarter of the labor force). The 11 essays—from scholars Christopher Moore, Jill Lepore, Graham Hodges, Patrick Rael, Shane White, Carla L. Peterson, Craig Steven Wilder, Manisha Sinha, David Quigley, Iver Bernstein and Marcy S. Sacks—explore the social, cultural and political impact of the black community on the early development and growth of New York City. Though academic thoroughness and occasional repetition and contradiction may slightly cloud the collection, the work is accessible to the lay reader. Pertinent illustrations and over 30 sidebars throughout the text offer enriching sketches of many of the people, places and events that figure in the essays. (Nov.)
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The discovery of slave graveyards in the Wall Street area of New York City in 1991 uncovered a past when slavery was a central part of the social and commercial history of the city, contrary to notions that center on the antebellum South. This book, which accompanies two exhibits of the artifacts found in the graves, is a scholarly reexamination of the role of slavery in New York. Berlin and Harris include contributions by 12 leading historians of slavery, each exploring the contributions of slaves to the development of New York. The book traces slavery from Dutch New Amsterdam through British influence after the Dutch surrendered the territory, the American Revolution and the ferment to end slavery, and the Civil War. Contributors detail the differences between urban slavery--with household servants to the elite, dock laborers, and skilled tradesmen--and rural slavery. Slave insurrections, benevolent societies, and a growing class of cosmopolitan blacks eager to contribute to the culture of the city are among the varied and complex portraits of a slave population that helped shape a major American city. Vanessa Bush
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