Exhibitions

A. Philip Randolph and the Struggle for Civil Rights

A. Philip Randolph and the Struggle for Civil Rights

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A. Philip Randolph's career as a trade unionist and civil rights activist fundamentally shaped the course of black protest in the mid-twentieth century. Standing alongside individuals such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey at the center of the cultural renaissance and political radicalism that shaped communities such as Harlem in the 1920s and into the 1930s, Randolph fashioned an understanding of social justice that reflected a deep awareness of how race complicated class concerns, especially among black laborers. Examining Randolph's work in lobbying for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, threatening to lead a march on Washington in 1941, and establishing the Fair Employment Practice Committee, Cornelius L. Bynum shows that Randolph's push for African American equality took place within a broader progressive program of industrial reform. Some of Randolph's pioneering plans for engineering change--which served as foundational strategies in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s--included direct mass action, nonviolent civil disobedience, and purposeful coalitions between black and white workers. Bynum interweaves biographical information on Randolph with details on how he gradually shifted his thinking about race and class, full citizenship rights, industrial organization, trade unionism, and civil rights protest throughout his activist career.
All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake

All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake

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NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER - A renowned historian traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women to craft an extraordinary testament to people who are left out of the archives.

KIRKUS PRIZE FINALIST - LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD - ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Washington Post, Slate, Vulture, Publishers Weekly - ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, NPR, Time, The Boston Globe, Smithsonian Magazine, Book Riot, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews

"Deeply layered and insightful . . . [a] bold reflection on American history, African American resilience, and the human capacity for love and perseverance in the face of soul-crushing madness."--The Washington Post

"A history told with brilliance and tenderness and fearlessness."--Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States

In 1850s South Carolina, an enslaved woman named Rose faced a crisis, the imminent sale of her daughter Ashley. Thinking quickly, she packed a cotton bag with a few precious items as a token of love and to try to ensure Ashley's survival. Soon after, the nine-year-old girl was separated from her mother and sold.

Decades later, Ashley's granddaughter Ruth embroidered this family history on the bag in spare yet haunting language--including Rose's wish that "It be filled with my Love always." Ruth's sewn words, the reason we remember Ashley's sack today, evoke a sweeping family story of loss and of love passed down through generations. Now, in this illuminating, deeply moving book inspired by Rose's gift to Ashley, historian Tiya Miles carefully unearths these women's faint presence in archival records to follow the paths of their lives--and the lives of so many women like them--to write a singular and revelatory history of the experience of slavery, and the uncertain freedom afterward, in the United States.

The search to uncover this history is part of the story itself. For where the historical record falls short of capturing Rose's, Ashley's, and Ruth's full lives, Miles turns to objects and to art as equally important sources, assembling a chorus of women's and families' stories and critiquing the scant archives that for decades have overlooked so many. The contents of Ashley's sack--a tattered dress, handfuls of pecans, a braid of hair, "my Love always"--are eloquent evidence of the lives these women lived. As she follows Ashley's journey, Miles metaphorically unpacks the bag, deepening its emotional resonance and exploring the meanings and significance of everything it contained.

All That She Carried
is a poignant story of resilience and of love passed down through generations of women against steep odds. It honors the creativity and fierce resourcefulness of people who preserved family ties even when official systems refused to do so, and it serves as a visionary illustration of how to reconstruct and recount their stories today.

The 2021 National Book Award winner for nonfiction and Kirkus Prize Finalist - Renowned historian, Tiya Miles, traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women to craft a testament to extraordinary people whose stories were previously left untold.  

Black Cowboys in the American West: On the Range, on the Stage, behind the Badge

Black Cowboys in the American West: On the Range, on the Stage, behind the Badge

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Who were the black cowboys? They were drovers, foremen, fiddlers, cowpunchers, cattle rustlers, cooks, and singers. They worked as wranglers, riders, ropers, bulldoggers, and bronc busters. They came from varied backgrounds--some grew up in slavery, while free blacks often got their start in Texas and Mexico. Most who joined the long trail drives were men, but black women also rode and worked on western ranches and farms.

The first overview of the subject in more than fifty years, Black Cowboys in the American West surveys the life and work of these cattle drivers from the years before the Civil War through the turn of the twentieth century. Including both classic, previously published articles and exciting new research, this collection also features select accounts of twentieth-century rodeos, music, people, and films. Arranged in three sections--"Cowboys on the Range," "Performing Cowboys," and "Outriders of the Black Cowboys"--the thirteen chapters illuminate the great diversity of the black cowboy experience.

Like all ranch hands and riders, African American cowboys lived hard, dangerous lives. But black drovers were expected to do the roughest, most dangerous work--and to do it without complaint. They faced discrimination out west, albeit less than in the South, which many had left in search of autonomy and freedom. As cowboys, they could escape the brutal violence visited on African Americans in many southern communities and northern cities.

Black cowhands remain an integral part of life in the West, the descendants of African Americans who ventured west and helped settle and establish black communities. This long-overdue examination of nineteenth- and twentieth-century black cowboys ensures that they, and their many stories and experiences, will continue to be known and told.

BORN OF LAKES AND PLAINS: MIXE

BORN OF LAKES AND PLAINS: MIXE

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Often overlooked, there is mixed blood at the heart of America. And at the heart of Native life for centuries there were complex households using intermarriage to link disparate communities and create protective circles of kin. Beginning in the seventeenth century, Native peoples--Ojibwes, Otoes, Cheyennes, Chinooks, and others--formed new families with young French, English, Canadian, and American fur traders who spent months in smoky winter lodges or at boisterous summer rendezvous. These families built cosmopolitan trade centers from Michilimackinac on the Great Lakes to Bellevue on the Missouri River, Bent's Fort in the southern Plains, and Fort Vancouver in the Pacific Northwest. Their family names are often imprinted on the landscape, but their voices have long been muted in our histories. Anne F. Hyde's pathbreaking history restores them in full.

Vividly combining the panoramic and the particular, Born of Lakes and Plains follows five mixed-descent families whose lives intertwined major events: imperial battles over the fur trade; the first extensions of American authority west of the Appalachians; the ravages of imported disease; the violence of Indian removal; encroaching American settlement; and, following the Civil War, the disasters of Indian war, reservations policy, and allotment. During the pivotal nineteenth century, mixed-descent people who had once occupied a middle ground became a racial problem drawing hostility from all sides. Their identities were challenged by the pseudo-science of blood quantum--the instrument of allotment policy--and their traditions by the Indian schools established to erase Native ways. As Anne F. Hyde shows, they navigated the hard choices they faced as they had for centuries: by relying on the rich resources of family and kin. Here is an indelible western history with a new human face.

BRAVE AND CUNNING PRINCE: THE

BRAVE AND CUNNING PRINCE: THE

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The extraordinary story of the Powhatan chief who waged a lifelong struggle to drive European settlers from his homeland

In the mid-sixteenth century, Spanish explorers in the Chesapeake Bay kidnapped an Indian child and took him back to Spain and subsequently to Mexico. The boy converted to Catholicism and after nearly a decade was able to return to his land with a group of Jesuits to establish a mission. Shortly after arriving, he organized a war party that killed them.

In the years that followed, Opechancanough (as the English called him), helped establish the most powerful chiefdom in the mid-Atlantic region. When English settlers founded Virginia in 1607, he fought tirelessly to drive them away, leading to a series of wars that spanned the next forty years--the first Anglo-Indian wars in America-- and came close to destroying the colony.

A Brave and Cunning Prince is the first book to chronicle the life of this remarkable chief, exploring his early experiences of European society and his long struggle to save his people from conquest.

Bronzed Small Compass

Bronzed Small Compass

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A bronzed pocket compass, a reproduction from the 19th C. campaign trail.

Cherokee Americans: The Eastern Band of Cherokees in the Twentieth Century (Revised)

Cherokee Americans: The Eastern Band of Cherokees in the Twentieth Century (Revised)

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Much has been written about the forced removal of thousands of Cherokee Indians to present-day Oklahoma in the 1830s. Many of them died on the Trail of Tears. But until recently historians have largely ignored the tribal remnant that avoided removal and remained in North Carolina. John R. Finger shifts attention to the Eastern Band of Cherokees, descended from that remnant and now numbering almost ten thousand, most of whom live on a reservation adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cherokee Americans is, ironically, the first comprehensive account of the twentieth-century experience of a band that is known to and photographed by millions of tourists. This book is a sequel to The Eastern Band of Cherokees, 1819-1900 (1984) by John R. Finger, who is a professor of history at the University of Tennessee.
Cherokee Narratives: A Linguistic Study

Cherokee Narratives: A Linguistic Study

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The stories of the Cherokee people presented here capture in written form tales of history, myth, and legend for readers, speakers, and scholars of the Cherokee language. Assembled by noted authorities on Cherokee, this volume marks an unparalleled contribution to the linguistic analysis, understanding, and preservation of Cherokee language and culture.

Cherokee Narratives spans the spectrum of genres, including humor, religion, origin myths, trickster tales, historical accounts, and stories about the Eastern Cherokee language. These stories capture the voices of tribal elders and form a living record of the Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' oral tradition. Each narrative appears in four different formats: the first is interlinear, with each line shown in the Cherokee syllabary, a corresponding roman orthography, and a free English translation; the second format consists of a morpheme-by-morpheme analysis of each word; and the third and fourth formats present the entire narrative in the Cherokee syllabary and in a free English translation.

The narratives and their linguistic analysis are a rich source of information for those who wish to deepen their knowledge of the Cherokee syllabary, as well as for students of Cherokee history and culture. By enabling readers at all skill levels to use and reconstruct the Cherokee language, this collection of tales will sustain the life and promote the survival of Cherokee for generations to come.

CHICAGO AND THE ILLINOIS CENTR

CHICAGO AND THE ILLINOIS CENTR

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Headquartered in Chicago, the Illinois Central Railroad was known as the "Main Line of Mid-America."


This was a major railroad cutting through the middle section of the United States with two major routes.The Main Line, which ran south out of Chicago toward New Orleans, and the Western Lines, which ran west toward Iowa. The Illinois Central Railroad had eight major freight yards in Chicago, which in 1937 handled nearly two million freight cars. It was also well known for its passenger service and operated some of the finest passenger trains: the Green Diamond, the all-Pullman Panama Limited, and the City of New Orleans. Chicago and the Illinois Central Railroad covers the railroad's operations within the city of Chicago, plus the outlying suburbs, from the late 1800s to 1960. It explores, through vintage photographs, the passenger and freight trains, suburban trains, locomotives, shops and repair facilities, and people that made the railroad function.

CHINESE AND THE IRON ROAD: BUI

CHINESE AND THE IRON ROAD: BUI

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The completion of the transcontinental railroad in May 1869 is usually told as a story of national triumph and a key moment for American Manifest Destiny. The Railroad made it possible to cross the country in a matter of days instead of months, paved the way for new settlers to come out west, and helped speed America's entry onto the world stage as a modern nation that spanned a full continent. It also created vast wealth for its four owners, including the fortune with which Leland Stanford would found Stanford University some two decades later. But while the Transcontinental has often been celebrated in national memory, little attention has been paid to the Chinese workers who made up 90 percent of the workforce on the Western portion of the line. The Railroad could not have been built without Chinese labor, but the lives of Chinese railroad workers themselves have been little understood and largely invisible.

This landmark volume explores the experiences of Chinese railroad workers and their place in cultural memory. The Chinese and the Iron Road illuminates more fully than ever before the interconnected economies of China and the US, how immigration across the Pacific changed both nations, the dynamics of the racism the workers encountered, the conditions under which they labored, and their role in shaping both the history of the railroad and the development of the American West.