The WPA History of the Negro in Pittsburgh

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The monumental American Guide Series, published by the Federal Writers’ Project, provided work to thousands of unemployed writers, editors, and researchers in the midst of the Great Depression. Featuring books on states, cities, rivers, and ethnic groups, it also opened an unprecedented view into the lives of the American people during this time. Untold numbers of projects in progress were lost when the program was abruptly shut down by a hostile Congress in 1939.

One of those, "The Negro in Pittsburgh," lay dormant in the Pennsylvania State Library until it was microfilmed in 1970. The WPA History of the Negro in Pittsburgh marks the first publication of this rich body of information. This unique historical study of the city’s black population features articles on civil rights, social class, lifestyle, culture, folklore, and institutions from colonial times through the 1930s.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Not only tells the history of African Americans in Pittsburgh from the colonial era through the 1930s, but also exqisitely captures the perspective of the period in which it was created.”
Pennsylvania Heritage
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822942320
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 6/6/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1 The shadow of the plantation 21
Ch. 2 The Negro on the frontier 35
Ch. 3 The early community, 1804-1860 53
Ch. 4 Abolition years 100
Ch. 5 Civil rights 168
Ch. 6 The Negro wage worker 216
Ch. 7 Church, school and press 230
Ch. 8 The later community 250
Ch. 12 Folkways 259
Ch. 13 Arts and culture 293
Ch. 14 The people speak 334
App. 1 Memorial of Pittsburgh's free citizens of color, 1837 361
App. 2 Lewis Woodson's "birthday memorandum" of 1856 368
App. 3 Two poems by George B. Vashon : "Vincent Oge" and "A life day" 369
App. 4 Transcriptions of selected newspaper items 383
Map : African American migration routes to Pittsburgh, 1760-1860 409
Map : underground railroad routes in Western Pennsylvania 410
Map : Pittsburgh downtown, Hill District, and Allegheny City (north side), ca. 1850 411
Map : Pittsburgh neighborhoods and settlements, 1865 412
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