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Black Voices - African American Autobiography and Biography: Jim Crow Narratives

Published personal accounts of African Americans from slavery to freedom.

Jim Crow Narratives

  • Barlow, Leila Mae. Across the Years: Memoirs. Montgomery, AL: Paragon Press, 1959. Professor at Alabama State, educated at Spelman.
  • Browne, Rose Butler (1897-  ), and James English. Love My Children: An Autobiography.  Index.  New York: Meredith Press, 1969. College educator; taught at North Carolina College (Central) during career.
  • Campbell, Thomas Monroe (1883-  ). The Movable School Goes to the Negro Farmer.  Introduction by Bradford Knapp.  Illustrated.  Appendix.  Tuskegee Institute, AL: Tuskegee Institute Press, 1936. Reprinted New York: Arno Press,1969. Extension Service of the US Dept of Agriculture field agent; raised in GA and attended Tuskegee; focuses on history, practices, and goals of the educational services offered by his organization.
  • Carrothers, James D. (b. 1869). In Spite of the Handicap: An Autobiography. Introduction by Ray Stannard Baker. Illustrated. New York: George H. Doran, 1916. Straightforward story of author’s life: a northern Negro who becomes minister, successful newspaper and short story writer.
  • Clark, Septima Poinsette (1898-  ), with LeGette Blythe. Echo in My Soul. Foreword by Harry Golden. Illustrated. New York: Dutton,1962. Educator and community leader in SC, work with Highlander Folk School—civil rights activist.
  • Coppin, Levi Jenkins (1848-1924). Unwritten History. Illustrated. Philadelphia: AME Book Concern, 1919. Reprinted New York: Negro Universities Press, 1968. Educator and AME bishop recounts religious life in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Delaware.
  • Crumes, Cole, Sr. (1906-1968). My Life is an Open Book. Illustrated. New York: Carlton Press, 1965. Louisiana native and educator, education at Prairie View (TX), Leland College (LA), WWII experiences and LA teaching career.
  • Day, Helen Caldwell (1926-  ). Color, Ebony. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1951. [avail in first edition] Religious conversion, youth in TX, Catholic volunteer in Memphis, work in Harlem during WWII.
  • Edwards, William James (1869-1950). Twenty-Five Years in the Black Belt. Illustrated. Appendix.  Boston: Cornhill Co., 1918. Reprinted Westport, CT: Negro Universities Press, 1970. [avail in first edition] Tuskegee graduate and founder of Snow Hill Institute (AL). Youth in Snow Hill, essays on racial problems.
  • Evers, Charles (1922-  ). Evers. Edited and Introduction by Grace Halsell.  Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1971. [avail in first edition] Brother of Medgar Evers covers childhood in MS, migration to Chicago and political work in MS.
  • Green, [Elisha] Ely (1893-1968). Ely: An Autobiography. Introduction by Lillian Smith. New York: Seabury Press,1966. Story of author’s youth in TN.
  • Green, [Elisha] Ely (1893-1968).  Ely: Too Black, Too White. Edited by Elizabeth N. and Arthur Ben Chitty.  Foreword by Arthur Ben Chitty.  Amherst, MA: U of Massachusetts P, 1970. Laborer, and personal advocate of civil rights, experiences in TX, CA, and in Army in WWI.
  •  Harris, Charles Jacob (1885-  ).  Reminiscences of My Days with Roland Hayes.  Orangeburg, SC: The Author, 1944. In this brief pamphlet, the piano accompanist to concert singer Roland Hayes describes their adventures and music performances in Boston, New England, and the South from 1911-1917.
  •  Haskin, Sara Estelle (b. ?).  The Handicapped Winners. Nashville, TN: Publishing House of the M.E. Church, South, Lamar & Barton, Agents, 1925. Special Collections Off-Site Stacks 326.81 H351H; second edition, good condition.
  •  Herndon, Angelo (1913-  ) Let Me Live. Illustrated. Appendixes. New York: Random House,1937. Reprinted New York: Arno Press,1969. Communist labor activist in AL and GA, discusses work as coal miner, court cases, prison years.
  • Himes, Chester (1909-  ).  The Quality of Hurt: The Autobiography of Chester Himes. Vol.1. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1972. MI native, novelist describes extensive US travel south and north, OH state education, criminal activities, imprisonment, career as fiction writer.
  • Holtzclaw, William Henry (1870?-1943). The Black Man’s Burden.  Introduction by Booker T. Washington. Illustrated. New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1915. Reprinted New York: Haskell House, 1970. Reprinted New York: Negro University Press, 1970.
  • Hudson, Hosea (1898-  ). Black Worker in the Deep South: A Personal Record. Introduction by Ralph David Abernathy. New York: International Publishers, 1972. Labor, civil rights activist, GA native, former sharecropper, organizer for the Communist Party.
  • Hunter, Jane Edna Harris  (1882-1971). A Nickel and a Prayer. Introduction by George Bellamy. Cleveland: Elli Kani Publishing,1940. Reprinted Nashville: Parthenon Press, 1940. SC Native, civil service worker and social activist in Cleveland, OH, nurse in SC and FL.
  • Johnson, James Weldon (1871-1938). Along this Way: The Autobiography of James Weldon Johnson. Illustrated. Index. New York: Viking Press, 1933.  Reprinted New York: Penguin Books, 1941.  Reprinted New York: Compass Books-Viking Press, 1968. NAACP secretary, educator, attorney, writer and diplomat, FL native, educated Atlanta University and Columbia.
  • Jones, Laurence Clifton (1884-  ). Piney Woods and Its Story. Introduction by S. S. McClure. Illustrated. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1922. Description of school life (see above entry).
  • Lynch, John Roy (1847-1939). The Facts of Reconstruction. Illustrated. New York: Neale Publishing,1913. Reprinted New York: Neale Publishing, 1913.  Reprinted New York: Arno Press, 1968. Reprinted Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1970. Citizen and politician in MS and Washington, DC; defends Reconstruction programs.
  • McDonald, [Emanuel] Sam [B.] (1884-1957). Sam McDonald’s Farm: Stanford Reminiscences. Preface by Tully C. Knoles. Illustrated. Index.  Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1954. Grew up in Louisiana and later migrated to Southern CA; CA farmer and steamship laborer, began working at Stanford in 1903.
  • Morant, John James (1870-1961). Mississippi Minister. Illustrated. New York: Vantage Press, 1958. Born in AL, AME minister, dean of E. W. Lampton Theological Seminary School of Religion (Vicksburg, MS) and dean of the School of Religion at Campbell College (Jackson, MS)
  • Morton, Lena Beatrice (1901-  ). My First Sixty Years: Passion for Wisdom. New York: Philosophical Library, 1965. Born in KY, attended U of Cinn and Western Reserve U, and taught at various southern colleges; includes author’s essays on education and racial topics, some of her speeches, and some of her poems.
  • Moton, Robert Russa (1867-1940). Finding a Way Out: An Autobiography. Index. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, 1920.  Reprinted College Park, MD: McGrath Publishing, 1969.  Reprinted New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969. Grew up in VA, attended Hampton Institute, distinguished scholar, educator, college administrator, lawyer, and later succeeded Booker T. Washington as principal of Tuskegee Institute.
  • Owens, [Jones] Jesse [Cleveland] (1913-  ), with Paul G. Neimark. Blackthink: My Life as Black Man and White Man. New York: William Morrow, 1970. Reprinted New York: Pocket Books,1971. Track star of the 1936 Olympics, grew up in AL and OH, attended Ohio State University.
  • Patterson, Haywood. (1913?-1952), and Earl Conrad. Scottsboro Boy.  Foreward by Earl Conrad. Illustrated. Appendixes. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1950. Reprinted New York: Collier Books, 1969 [first edition widely available] One of the eight “Scottsboro Boys” accused of raping two white girls in Alabama in 1931, describes the experience of going on trial, spending time in Alabama prisons, and his escape to the North in 1948.
  • Perry, John Edward (1870-1962-). Forty Cords of Wood: Memoirs of a Medical Doctor. Introduction by John A. Kenney. Illustrated. Jefferson City, MO: Lincoln UP, 1947. Kansas City, MO, physician, taught in AR, grew up in TX, attended Bishop College and the Post Grad Medical College (Chicago), and served as curator of Lincoln University, MO.
  • Phillips, Charles Henry (1858-1951). From the Farm to the Bishopric: An Autobiography. Nashville: Parthenon Press,1932. CME bishop, grew up in GA, attended Atlanta U, Central TN College, Walden U, and Meharry College (studied medicine and religion).
  • Pickens, William (1881-1954). Bursting Bonds. Boston: Jordan & More Press, 1923. Professor at Wiley U, administrator at Morgan College (Baltimore), and a leader in the NAACP (continuation of story below).
  • Pickens, William (1881-1954). The Heir of Slaves: An Autobiography. Boston: Pilgrim Press,1911. Grew up in SC and AR, attended Talladega College and Yale U, and taught at Talladega.
  • Pope, Oliver R. (1876-  ). Chalk Dust. New York: Pageant Press, 1967. Describes his years from 1912-1947 as a teacher and supervising principal of Negro schools in “Duraton” (probably Rocky Mount, NC).
  • Powell, Adam Clayton, Sr. (1865-1953).  Against the Tide: An Autobiography. Introduction by William P. Hayes. New York: Richard R. Smith, 1938. Grew up in VA, WV, and OH, pastored Abyssinian Baptist in Harlem, attended Howard and VA Union, visited Europe and the Middle East in 1924.
  • Proctor, Henry Hugh (1868-1933). Between Black and White: Autobiographical Sketches. Introduction by S. Parkes Cadman. Illustrated.  Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1925.  Reprinted Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1972. Congregational minister, grew up in TN, attended Fisk and Yale Div School, discusses racial issues.
  • Rutland, Eva (1917-  ). The Trouble with Being a Mama. New York: Abingdon Press, 1964. Describes life as a housewife and mother of four in AL, OH, and CA; discusses racial issues, topics, and incidents.
  • Sams, Jessie Bennett (1917-  ). White Mother. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1957. Los Angeles school teacher; describes the financial and moral support of a white woman to her and her sister in their youth in FL; graduated from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College.
  • Starks, John Jacob (1876-1944). Lo These Many Years: An Autobiographical Sketch. Introduction by C. A. Johnson. Illustrated. Columbia, SC: State Co, 1941. Baptist minister, professor, and college administrator in GA and SC, born and raised SC, attended the Atlanta Baptist Institute (Morehouse College), and served as president of Morris College and Benedict College.
  • Thomas, Jesse O. (1885-  ). My Story in Black and White: The Autobiography of Jesse O. Thomas. Foreword by Whitney M. Young, Jr.  Index.  New York: Exposition Press, 1967. Born and raised in MS and educated at Tuskegee; served as principal of Voorhees Institute (SC), field secretary of the Natl Urban League, and as administrator for the US Govt and the American Red Cross.
  • Turner, Bridges Alfred (1908-  ). From a Plow to a Doctorate—So What!  Illustrated.  Appendix.  Hampton, VA: The Author, 1945. Grew up in MS and AR; attended Arkansas Agricultural, Mech, and Normal College and Penn State; taught in AR, worked at Hampton Institute.
  • Ward, Matthew [Denby, Charles] (1907-  ). Indignant Heart. New York: New Books,1952. Reprinted South End Press, 1978.  Reprinted Detroit, MI: Wayne State UP, 1989. Detroit auto worker involved in union work (former member of the Trotskyist Party), grew up in TN; discusses his experiences in the factory and his job as a chauffeur for a prominent Memphis lawyer.
  • White, Walter Francis (1893-1955). A Man Called White: The Autobiography of Walter White. Index. New York: Viking Press,1948. Reprinted New York: Arno Press, 1969.  Reprinted Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1970. Essayist, novelist, lecturer, and long-time secretary of NAACP; born and raised in Atlanta; attended Atlanta University; focuses on his distinguished career as a national civil rights leader and organizer.
  • Wright, Richard Robert, Jr. (1878-1967). 87 Years Behind the Black Curtain: An Autobiography. Index. Philadelphia: Rare Book Co., 1965. Born and raised in Georgia, attended Georgia State, University of Chicago, and University of Pennsylvania; AME minister in Chicago and Philadelphia as well as social worker; twice president of Wilberforce; served as church bishop in Africa, the West Indies, TN, KY, GA, MS, LA, and the Far West.

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