Monday, February 28, 2011


Black History Month is coming to an official end, but the study of history never ends, and thanks to resources such as the Library of Congress African American History Month collection, we will never run out of interesting avenues to explore.

The Library of Congress African American History Month collection provides an endlessly fascinating array of historical photographs, an online exhibition from the Smithsonian Museum of African Art titled "African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting," and online exhibits of materials related to arts and culture, civil rights, government & politics, religion, and sports.

Click here to read about the history of African American History Month and the work of Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) and the first Negro History Week in 1925.

Note, in particular, a link to the extraordinary collection of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, who over the span of 40 years collected a variety of important documents, rare artifacts, and works of art, such as an early version of the Emancipation Proclamation to correspondence between Malcolm X and Alex Haley.

The Kinsey collection includes items such as an 1854 letter, written by one A.M. Crawford, the owner of a young slave named Frances, offering her for sale. (This letter can be viewed at the top of this posting. Click on the image to enlarge it.) The letter states: "She is the finest chamber-maid [sic] I have ever seen in my life." In the letter, Crawford goes on to say: "She does not know that she is to be sold. I could not tell her. I own all her family." Crawford is aware of the heartbreak the separation will cause, but his only concern is for making the sale and avoiding a "distressing leave-taking." The proceeds from the sale are earmarked for the construction of a new stable.

This year's theme for African American History Month, chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, was "African Americans and the Civil War." (See This theme "...honors the efforts of people of African descent to destroy slavery and inaugurate universal freedom in the United States."

The Association "...urges all Americans to study and reflect on the value of their contribution to the nation."

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