HomeBlack Historians and the Writing of History in the 19th and early 20th centuries : What Legacy?

HomeBlack Historians and the Writing of History in the 19th and early 20th centuries : What Legacy?

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Published on Thursday, June 05, 2014


Almost 100 years after The Journal of Negro History was founded by Carter G. Woodson, this conference aims to reassess the legacy of those black historians who wrote the history of their community between the 1830s and World War II. Through slavery and segregation, self-educated and formally educated black Americans wrote works of history in order to inscribe, or re-inscribe, African Americans in American history. This served a two-fold objective: to make African-Americans proud of their past and to enable them to fight against white prejudice. Over the past decades, historians have turned to the study of these pioneers, but a number of issues remain to be addressed.



Thursday 12 June 2013

9:00       Registration

9:30       Opening address: François Brunet (University Paris Diderot)

  • 10:00 Plenary session: Pero Dagbovie (Michigan State University) From the Margins to the Mainstream: Reflections on a Century of the African American Historical Enterprise

11:00    Coffee break

11:30    Writing the History of the Diaspora

Chair: Claire Bourhis-Mariotti (University of Cergy-Pontoise)

  • Patrick Rael (Bowdoin College): Slave Resistance and Antislavery Ideology: The Haitian Revolution and the Coming of the Civil War
  • Violet M. Showers Johnson (Texas A&M University): Writing Afro-Caribbean History into African American History in the 1920s and 1930s: The Claims, the Rows and the Legacy
  • Michael Benjamin (Armstrong Atlantic State University): From the Margins: Self-Taught Black Historians and the Project to Publish a Diasporic Encyclopedia

1:00       Lunch

2:30       Alternative Sources: Art(s) and History

Chair: Claudine Raynaud (University Montpellier 3)

  • James Smalls (University of Maryland): Freeman Murray and the Art of Social Justice
  • Mary Ann Calo (Colgate University): Art History, Racial Art Theory and Adult Education: Remembering Alain Locke’s Negro Art: Past and Present (1936)
  • Adena Spingarn (Stanford University): James Weldon Johnson’s Black Manhattan and the Popular Stages of History

4:00       Coffee break

4:30       Historians or “Leaders of the Race”      

Chair: Hélène Le Dantec-Lowry (University Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3)

  • Nicole Topich (Harvard University): Black Histories and Historians in Petitions
  • Zachery Williams (University of Akron): From the Bottom to the Top: Howard University Historians and Policy History in the United States
  • Glenn Jordan (University of South Wales): A Vindicationalist Voice: George Washington Williams and History From the Margins

6:00       Cocktail party

Friday 13 June 2014

9:00       Pre-session coffee

  • 9:30       Plenary session: Claire Parfait (University Paris 13) Early African American Historians: a Book History Perspective

10:30    Coffee break

11:30    The Writing of African American History: the Construction of Specific Objects and Methods

Chair: Marie-Jeanne Rossignol (University Paris Diderot)

  • John Ernest (University of Delaware):The Negro in the American Rebellion: William Wells Brown and the Design of African American History
  • Stephen G. Hall (Alcorn State University): One Hundred Years Before Woodson: Assessing the Development of African American History in the 19th Century

12:00    Race and History, Race in History

Chair: Chris Weedon (Cardiff University)

  • Martha S. Jones (University of Michigan): Who Were the “Negro Historians”?: Reading William Yates on Race and Citizenship
  • Nicolas Martin-Breteau (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales): Historian of Himself, Historian of His Race: W. E. B. Du Bois and the History of Race Oppression in the U.S.

1:00       Lunch

2:30       Incorporating Slavery into the Historical Narrative

Chair: Myriam Cottias (CNRS, CIRESC)

  • Clare Corbould (Monash University): Talking and Writing about Slavery in the Interwar Years, and the Origins of American Social History
  • Kate Masur (Northwestern University): “The Colored Side of Lincolniana”: John E. Washington and the Black History of the Lincoln Presidency

3:30     Taking up the Challenge: Publishing African American Historical Works

Chair: Claire Parfait (University Paris 13)

  • Cheryl Knott (University of Arizona): Merl R. Eppse and the Publication of The Negro, Too, in American History
  • Aaron Pride (Kent State University): Selling The Souls of Black Folk: The Legacy and Tradition of the Trotter Family in the African American Historical Enterprise

4:30       Coffee break

5:00       Roundtable with all the participants: Black Historians: What Legacy?

6:00       Closing address: Pap Ndiaye (Sciences Po Paris)


  • University Paris Diderot Paris 7 - 5 Rue Thomas Mann
    Paris, France (75013)


  • Thursday, June 12, 2014
  • Friday, June 13, 2014


  • Histoire, Africains Américains, marges


  • Matthieu Renault
    courriel : matthieu [dot] renault [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Matthieu Renault
    courriel : matthieu [dot] renault [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Black Historians and the Writing of History in the 19th and early 20th centuries : What Legacy? », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Thursday, June 05, 2014, https://doi.org/10.58079/qaz

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