Turning the page on access to historic newspapers to trace black ancestory

Free. Public. Accessible.

Free and public access to historic newspapers reporting about African Americans during those challenging reseach years — 1880 to the 1920s and beyond — is available thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.

How to accomplish your new searches? It is straightforward:

  1. Go to https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ and type in “African Americans” or “Black genealogy” or something similar in the search bar.
  2. Further sort your search about loved ones or general history.
Time to get started with black ancestry research through the free offferings.
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Happy birthday to my (late) grandmother — born in the year of the last pandemic

On April 16, 1918, my grandmother, Helen Mary Wilks, was born in Springfield, Mo.

Today, on what would have been her 103rd birthday, I celebrate the lady who inspired me to travel the world (she traveled to Asia, Canada, Central America and more), appreciate the arts as a patron and actor, seamstress, could type faster than just about anyone I know, use “both sides of my brain” and never waste a crisis.

I learned much, much later that Mama Helen was a “Hidden Figure” in reference to the popular revelation of black women being human “brains” on the campus of NASA prior to and during the historic space flights. Mama Helen was such at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. It is the home to the nation’s underground city for U.S. presidents such as George Bush, Jr., who utilized it during the 9/11 attacks.

Mama Helen had style, beauty, grace, charm and intellect. What a role model, this mother of six children, grandmother of 18 and lots of great-great and great-great-great grandchildren. Her only brother was a popular dancer and he lost his life during the TB outbreak.

Happy birthday with the angels, Mama Helen!

Second from the left, Mama Helen is next to her daughter (my Mom), Angeline, to her left. To her right is Mama Helen’s mother, Edna Robinson and next to Grandma Robinson, is my oldest sister, Denise Michelle Wead Rawles. Photo was taken somewhere about 1973 in Omaha, Nebraska. Photographer unknown.
With husband, Eugene Gipson Owen, Jr., Mama Helen and Grandpa Owen are holding their firstborn and my 1-year-old mother, Angeline Cecil Owen in 1938.

“Civil” rights in different times

Add title

Dad speaking to predominately white folk on civil rights in April 1968
Rodney S. Wead speaks to a group in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska in April 1968, one month after he was beaten until bloodied. (Photographer unknown)

I was 10 years old in 1968 and it seemed the world was on fire. In some ways, it was.

The bad:

  • In March, racist U.S. Presidential Candidate and Alabama Governor George Wallace spoke at a campaign rally in Omaha, Nebraska that resulted in peaceful protestors — including my Dad — being brutally beaten by his private security officers.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in April.
  • U.S. Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy was assinated later that year.

The good:

  • The landmark, U.S. Civil Rights Act was passed.
  • NASA’s Apollo 8 orbited the moon.
  • Although harsh to listen to, all sides of political and societal issues were heard by the opposing voices.

My father, a bonafide peacemaker who worked his “day” job to benefit his family, spoke in civil tones and tenor. His colleagues did the same. Oh how we long for the good old days!

The similarities: 1918 Pandemic and today’s COVID-19 health crises

As we consider moving from B.C. –before coronavirus  — to some semblance of societal normalcy after the 2021 pandemic is declared gone, I’ve often pondered how my family survived similar and perhaps worst conditions during 1918-19.

Black nurses saved our ancestors during the 1918 – 1920 pandemic

https://theundefeated.com/features/in-1918-and-2020-race-colors-americas-response-to-epidemics/


Is it 1918 or 2021?*

As we consider moving from B.C. –before coronavirus  — to some semblance of societal normalcy after the 2021 pandemic is declared gone, I’ve often pondered how my family survived similar and perhaps worst conditions during 1918-19.

In 1918, the year that my late maternal grandmother, Mary Helen Wilkes (later Owen and Douthy became her married names)  was born in Springfield, Mo. on a sunny April day. A health pandemic was raging.

My late great-grandmother, Edna Wilkes Robinson, was fortunate to receive special care from our large family. My family provided vigilant attention to protecting the newborn from the outbreak. That’s all I have heard about the period involving my grandmother’s early life.  It would take at least one year for the  worst of the so-called Spanish flu pandemic to close its horrible chapter of death and lingering illnesses across the nation.

By 1919, several verified reports revealed that approximately 50 million people or one-fifth of the world population and 25 percent of the U.S. residents, were affected.  At its end, the world population life span projections dropped by 12 years due to the horrible rage of the pandemic  https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/influenza-epidemic/.
In many ways, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic is identical to what occured in 1918. Virtually every corner of this world was impacted with societal and health crises.  The pandemic environment in 2020 is errily similiar to what occured during the so-called Spanish  flu of a century ago. The descrption of life in the 1918-19 period included periods of massive anxiety, frustration and fear. Some of the descriptives and visual images displayed closed schools, limited outside caregivers for children,  limitations on large gatherings in public spaces, dismal retail sales, farmers’ fiscal woes and government directives on how and when to remove the safety in shelter orders. There was debate and violent positions by loud members of the 1918 citizenry that  match protests today in favor of fully re-establishing the workplace and schools’ face-to-face routines. (See file:///E:/Nebraska%20history%20and%20flu%20epidemic%201918%20onward%20NH1957BacktoNormal.pdf). 

Effective vaccines would have been welcomed

Unlike the many folk today who are questioning whether to receive the necessary protections against the current pandemic — otherwise known as vaccinations — those living and dying during the 1918-1920 crisis would have welcomed such medical/science advancements.




Did the U.S. open too soon?
The outbreak was first detected in the spring of 1918. The “rush” to get ‘back to normal’ was cited as the cause for the next wave of the outbreak in the fall of 1918.What happened on and after Oct. 7, 1918 when the pandemic re-entered my home state of Nebraska was devastating. Death and illnesses climbed to epidemic porportions. Whether in the Midwest or other parts of the country, the realities were the same: Limited to no traditional acitivites during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s (1919) holiday seasons.  The year 1919 opened up with the virus waning, yet still active across the nation. 
I have found that history is a wonderful teacher. If we are willing to let the ‘student (today) meet the teacher (historical evidence), we can learn more about how to cope and effetively survive during such times of uncertainity.

Some lessons for today from yesterday

1. Find out what’s true and what’s not. Debunk myths and move forward with great information. Here’s a good source about the myths of the pandemic of 1918
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ten-myths-about-1918-flu-pandemic-180967810/

2. How did the U.S. President and his administration handle the 1918 pandemic challenges

https://meaww.com/the-great-american-cover-up-did-woodrow-wilson-facilitate-the-outbreak-of-the-spanish-infleunza

https://phoreveryoung.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/the-spanish-flu-epidemic-the-worst-government-cover-up-in-the-history-of-the-world-that-killed-over-20-million-people/

3. Take advantage of quality and helpful medical, personal adjustment and health information delivered via multimedia outlets. For instance, some federal agencies offer a wealth of information to help the collective “us” live through the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions and more. Here are a few.
https://www.nrdc.org/experts/joel-scata/fema-takes-covid-19

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2020/04/15/celebrating-invasive-plant-pest-and-disease-awareness-month-your-children

https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/osha/osha20200309

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

https://www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/news/latest-news/2020/04/where-women-business-owners-can-turn-for-covid-19.html?page=all

Letter carrier in New York wearing mask for protection against influenza. New York City, October 16, 1918. Letter carriers, mass transit workers, and others who came in contact with the public, were especially vulnerable to disease. Wearing a face mask helped them avoid contagion: National Archives at College Park, MD. Record number 165-WW-269B-15

4. Grieving and buying the dead in 1918
https://www.history.com/news/spanish-flu-pandemic-dead

https://www.inquirer.com/news/coronavirus-spanish-flu-1918-philadelphia-camac-mortician-funeral-home-20200428.html

5. Taking care of family, oneself
https://www.cleveland.com/metro/2020/04/how-did-society-emerge-after-1918-spanish-flu-pandemic-and-what-we-learn-about-reopening-ohio-after-coronavirus.html

Out of one “pan” and into another

My journey of seeking insight about the 2020 coronovirus outbreak led me to pages and footage of 1918. That is also the health turbulent year that my grandmother Helen Wilkes was born in Springfield, Mo. https://www.ozarksalive.com/covid-19-reminds-of-1918-spanish-flu-pandemic/.

The first”Safe in Shelter” or ‘Stay at Home’  directive from my current home, prompted me to sit still and wonder how  my grandmother — we called her Mama Helen — survived her infancy during the widespread outbreak in Missouri and her eventual home of Omaha, Nebraska. . I have thought a lot about my great-grandmother, Edna Robinson, who brought baby Helen into this world of a flu epidemic. My great-grandmother worked as a domestic in a private home. How did she care for her daughter. How did my other family members live through this crisis?
I am left without answers to my natural queries. It also never occured to me to ask my great-grandmother, grandmother and other relatives who were alive during that deadly period about their experiences. Who knew that the global citizenry would experience such devastation. The best solutions to my questions has been to pour through lots of research from video and audio remembrances and lots of periodicals. 
WILKS FAMILY PHOTO
My grandmother, Helen Wilkes and her mother and a large gathering of our family at home in Springfield, Missouri in the 1920s. Source: Personal collection

“New Normal”
No matter what you may make of the current/2020 period of social distancing, hyper attention to health and safety measures and mounting cases of those sick with COVID-19 and worse, we are living and creating our “new normal.”

It’s not pretty, yet it is a great time of reflective exercises. Thank the health care professionals, embrace your close-knit family ties, learn something along with the children who are in school via virtual settings, good deeper in your spiritual journey, read or listen to books on tape, count all of your blessings and remain alert for nuisances that shift your thinking to flexible survival modes. I take comfort in knowing that many of our families overcomed huge obstacles that included no chance for a vaccine as we are now afforded that possibility. #onlythestrongsurvive.

*I originally wrote this column a year ago. I updated the current year reference to 2021 and vaccine information

Current hurricane paths follow the same route as the African Slave Trade. Hmmm

This post was researched and written by a great Sis who writes “Dat Nola Chic”

DAT NOLA CHIC

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Hurricanes and African Slave Trade : What’s real?

This recent Hurricane season has captured the world’s attention and have us all questioning what the experts really know, if anything at all and the talk Hurricane’s and Slavery. Which leads me to ask why would one believe such as story as Africans being angry hundreds of years later and showing that anger by releasing the spirit of a horrible hurricane to destroy and take lives over all these years.

The only correlation I have found was that both had the same start. It has been proven that Hurricanes that most are formed around the coast Africa and follow the same path as slave ships .

There are African-American folktales about Hurricanes being the energy source of our ancestors; stolen Africans, beaten and lost at sea. Can Hurricanes be a mythical avenger that comes to right the wrongs of our ancestors? Souls of the sea, who unleash their wrath annually unto their oppressors?

wp-image-702036922.

Is there a connection between the Atlantic Slave Trade Routes and the path taken by hurricanes? If so, what about those who did not die while en route, but made it to live out their lives as slaves? What vengeance do they get?wp-image-252553052

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADREPORT THIS AD

wp-image-1632222100.

Some would like to see it that way, but a Hurricane like all natural disasters do not discriminate. I would hope that if a spell of sort was cast into the ocean in honor of my ancestors that its effects would not affect black people. It would be irresponsible and cruel of them to call upon this mythical storm to be released in the same direction of  their loved ones.

Yes, they traveled the same path as Hurricanes, but wouldn’t that mean they were affected by Hurricanes as well? Maybe, they prayed that the oceans would swallow the entire ship so that they may have rest and peace, not this hoodoo stuff.

wp-image-1493612073

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

I do not like all the hype about an ocean full of angry African souls who have not found peace and are out for revenge. It’s hard being alive seeing all the suffering just from this past Hurricane season, but to have people speak highly about my ancestors in this manner is heartbreaking.

wp-image-1530575276

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

Hurricanes bring death, destruction and suffering to all people no matter race, economical or social status. Katrina proved that the majority of people affected where poor black people. Yet, there’s the talk of an angry oppressed African spirit of the sea?

wp-image-432944215

Katrina also had religious folks saying, New Orleans was struck in such a manner, because of all the sin in our city.. I actually stopped attending church after a pastor used the fate of my city for his sermon. I wonder what they will say now? Texas is a cowboy redneck state, a big one at that and Florida follows suit.

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADREPORT THIS AD

No human wants to see others suffering, especially when it can happen to them. In saying that my ancestors would want to inflict the suffering that people are enduring after these Hurricanes is a dishonor to their spirits. To say that, they would be calling them inhuman, uncaring, unloving and the list goes on. Why would we agree in saying they would want someone to suffer, because they did? I have felt my share of heartache, feeling wronged and victimized, but I would never want another person to go through what I went through not even my oppressor.

wp-image-323229140

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

I do not think any of us can just simply go through our day without even a thought of what our fellow citizens are going through. None of us are immune to disaster, there’s no sum of money that will save Mr.Billionaire’s life or his property in comparison to ours. This is not Black/White Lives Matters, this is All Lives Matters and we must at least show compassion to those going through right now.

I can’t imagine what my ancestors went through while enduring whatever storm was in their path, but today I can close my eyes and picture the elderly people in Texas. They do not share my culture or skin color, but they represented exactly what it means to endure suffering. They were living in a disaster, in fear, uncertain if they were sitting in their actual  water grave. They were calm, possibly praying that their families were safe and sound while they sat waist deep in flood waters. I’m pretty sure had they lost their lives their souls would not have been tagged with the next disaster or the tangled up in headlines, because they wanted to avenge their suffering by suing the nursing home. I believe their reactions and emotions were inline with what my ancestors felt at the time as well.

wp-image-346277588

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

It’s not fair to pin a natural disaster on someone’s soul, no one has that type of vengeance on their heart. Suffering is terrible. I know we all wish we could control the amount and type of it that we had to endure, but we can’t. I wish that instead of blaming a group of people for what was done that we could enjoy the benefits of all that was accomplished from it. We can learn from our ancestors past and do them a favor of not repeating it and honor them by doing better.

wp-image-1841712458

Is it that important making sure the slave masters of yesteryear are held responsible or should we keep the hype up about our ancestors needing vindication via Hurricanes? Or do we learn more about emergency preparedness, push the government  to have a true emergency plan & monies for the poor, sick, elderly and animals to get out in time.  It’s proven that most people stay at home, because they do not have the resources to leave. Just like with the hospitals and nursing homes, there’s no true evacuation plan and now has proven that there should be.

A Hurricane or any other natural disaster is not a spirit, it’s Mother Nature and we have very limited knowledge as to why it happens, but from our ancestor, some may call it science, but whatever it is, we have no power or control over it. We have some knowledge on how to live and hopefully survive when it happens, but in the meantime we must assist those who are suffering from the effects of the disasters.

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

A disaster comes in many forms, some of us may go through life without a severe devastation, but regardless they can be soul changing, heartbreaking and will leave scars that can not be seen with eye.

wp-image-1085319675

A hurricane is formed and it travels, it does not make any sense that people are unable to receive assistance with evacuating.

My heart is so heavy for my country, for the world actually, we have to find a way to enjoy our lives and those in it. It didn’t take a nuclear bomb to destroy popular tourist destination, it wasn’t Avenge of Slaves, it was a Hurricane. I’m not sure if the Leaders of the world see that, but I do.DAT NOLA CHIC#HURRICANE ##KATRINA #HURRICANEKATRINA#LIFE #NATURALDISASTERS #LOSS #HOUSTON #KATRINA ##MIDDLEPASSAGE #SLAVES#NEWORLEANS ##SLAVERY#SLAVETRADE #TRANSATLANTIC #SLAVE

SEARCH

NON-FICTIONUNCATEGORIZED

Hurricanes and African Slave Trade : What’s real?

This recent Hurricane season has captured the world’s attention and have us all questioning what the experts really know, if anything at all and the talk Hurricane’s and Slavery. Which leads me to ask why would one believe such as story as Africans being angry hundreds of years later and showing that anger by releasing the spirit of a horrible hurricane to destroy and take lives over all these years.

The only correlation I have found was that both had the same start. It has been proven that Hurricanes that most are formed around the coast Africa and follow the same path as slave ships .

There are African-American folktales about Hurricanes being the energy source of our ancestors; stolen Africans, beaten and lost at sea. Can Hurricanes be a mythical avenger that comes to right the wrongs of our ancestors? Souls of the sea, who unleash their wrath annually unto their oppressors?

wp-image-702036922.

Is there a connection between the Atlantic Slave Trade Routes and the path taken by hurricanes? If so, what about those who did not die while en route, but made it to live out their lives as slaves? What vengeance do they get?wp-image-252553052

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADREPORT THIS AD

wp-image-1632222100.

Some would like to see it that way, but a Hurricane like all natural disasters do not discriminate. I would hope that if a spell of sort was cast into the ocean in honor of my ancestors that its effects would not affect black people. It would be irresponsible and cruel of them to call upon this mythical storm to be released in the same direction of  their loved ones.

Yes, they traveled the same path as Hurricanes, but wouldn’t that mean they were affected by Hurricanes as well? Maybe, they prayed that the oceans would swallow the entire ship so that they may have rest and peace, not this hoodoo stuff.

wp-image-1493612073

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

I do not like all the hype about an ocean full of angry African souls who have not found peace and are out for revenge. It’s hard being alive seeing all the suffering just from this past Hurricane season, but to have people speak highly about my ancestors in this manner is heartbreaking.

wp-image-1530575276

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

Hurricanes bring death, destruction and suffering to all people no matter race, economical or social status. Katrina proved that the majority of people affected where poor black people. Yet, there’s the talk of an angry oppressed African spirit of the sea?

wp-image-432944215

Katrina also had religious folks saying, New Orleans was struck in such a manner, because of all the sin in our city.. I actually stopped attending church after a pastor used the fate of my city for his sermon. I wonder what they will say now? Texas is a cowboy redneck state, a big one at that and Florida follows suit.

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADREPORT THIS AD

No human wants to see others suffering, especially when it can happen to them. In saying that my ancestors would want to inflict the suffering that people are enduring after these Hurricanes is a dishonor to their spirits. To say that, they would be calling them inhuman, uncaring, unloving and the list goes on. Why would we agree in saying they would want someone to suffer, because they did? I have felt my share of heartache, feeling wronged and victimized, but I would never want another person to go through what I went through not even my oppressor.

wp-image-323229140

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

I do not think any of us can just simply go through our day without even a thought of what our fellow citizens are going through. None of us are immune to disaster, there’s no sum of money that will save Mr.Billionaire’s life or his property in comparison to ours. This is not Black/White Lives Matters, this is All Lives Matters and we must at least show compassion to those going through right now.

I can’t imagine what my ancestors went through while enduring whatever storm was in their path, but today I can close my eyes and picture the elderly people in Texas. They do not share my culture or skin color, but they represented exactly what it means to endure suffering. They were living in a disaster, in fear, uncertain if they were sitting in their actual  water grave. They were calm, possibly praying that their families were safe and sound while they sat waist deep in flood waters. I’m pretty sure had they lost their lives their souls would not have been tagged with the next disaster or the tangled up in headlines, because they wanted to avenge their suffering by suing the nursing home. I believe their reactions and emotions were inline with what my ancestors felt at the time as well.

wp-image-346277588

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

It’s not fair to pin a natural disaster on someone’s soul, no one has that type of vengeance on their heart. Suffering is terrible. I know we all wish we could control the amount and type of it that we had to endure, but we can’t. I wish that instead of blaming a group of people for what was done that we could enjoy the benefits of all that was accomplished from it. We can learn from our ancestors past and do them a favor of not repeating it and honor them by doing better.

wp-image-1841712458

Is it that important making sure the slave masters of yesteryear are held responsible or should we keep the hype up about our ancestors needing vindication via Hurricanes? Or do we learn more about emergency preparedness, push the government  to have a true emergency plan & monies for the poor, sick, elderly and animals to get out in time.  It’s proven that most people stay at home, because they do not have the resources to leave. Just like with the hospitals and nursing homes, there’s no true evacuation plan and now has proven that there should be.

A Hurricane or any other natural disaster is not a spirit, it’s Mother Nature and we have very limited knowledge as to why it happens, but from our ancestor, some may call it science, but whatever it is, we have no power or control over it. We have some knowledge on how to live and hopefully survive when it happens, but in the meantime we must assist those who are suffering from the effects of the disasters.

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

A disaster comes in many forms, some of us may go through life without a severe devastation, but regardless they can be soul changing, heartbreaking and will leave scars that can not be seen with eye.

wp-image-1085319675

A hurricane is formed and it travels, it does not make any sense that people are unable to receive assistance with evacuating.

My heart is so heavy for my country, for the world actually, we have to find a way to enjoy our lives and those in it. It didn’t take a nuclear bomb to destroy popular tourist destination, it wasn’t Avenge of Slaves, it was a Hurricane. I’m not sure if the Leaders of the world see that, but I do.DAT NOLA CHIC#HURRICANE ##KATRINA #HURRICANEKATRINA#LIFE #NATURALDISASTERS #LOSS #HOUSTON #KATRINA ##MIDDLEPASSAGE #SLAVES#NEWORLEANS ##SLAVERY#SLAVETRADE #TRANSATLANTIC #SLAVE

Slave songs: Drumming up courage and hope

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lucy-mckim-garrison-music-sheet.jpg
“Roll, Jordan, Roll” was was coded for escaped slaves

The coded song for escaped slaves, “Roll, Jordan, Roll,” was one of many notable works captured by a young musicologist and published in 1867.

Lucy McKim was 19-years-old when she traveled with her abolitionist father in 1862 to the Sea Islands of Georgia for a three-week visit to check on the conditions of recently freed slaves. The piano teacher was naturally drawn to the songs being sung in different quarters by the newly freed people.

She began to chronicle their songs and in 1867, the then-wife of Wendell Phillip Garrison, published her work with two collaborators. The compelling story of her life and work is found in many journals and books.

Lucy McKim Garrison

Truly “Songs of Sorrow” as viewed by Lucy McKim Garrison, yet freedom songs for slaves

Courtesy of “Documenting the American South,” UNC-Chapel Hill LibraryLucy McKim Garrison was a musicologist born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 30, 1842.

She was born to James Miller and Sarah Allibone McKim. Her parents and other family members were known throughout the abolitionist community and had connections to Quakerism. Garrison received her education in Philadelphia but later moved to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, to attend the Eaglewood School. At the time that Garrison attended Eaglewood, the Grimke sisters were managing it and the school was attended by many abolitionists. She taught piano in Philadelphia and at the Eaglewood School.

During the Civil War in 1862, Garrison traveled with her father, who worked for the Port Royal Relief Committee, to South Carolina to investigate conditions of recently freed slaves. For three weeks, they stayed in the Sea Islands where she listened to the songs of the freedmen and attempted to put the songs into musical notation. The public did not receive her work well upon some of her first publications, so the project was put on hold.

Lucy and Wendell Phillips Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison’s third son, became engaged in 1864 and married on December 6, 1865. In 1867, Garrison gave birth to their first son, Lloyd, and also created Slave Songs of the United States in collaboration with William Francis Allen and Charles Pickard Ware. The publication is considered one of the best sources of slave songs. The couple’s son Philip was born in 1869, followed by their daughter, Katherine, in 1873. Garrison died on May 11, 1877, following a paralytic stroke at age 34. She is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Orange, New Jersey.

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Here’s another great work about this great lady.

https://udayton.edu/magazine/2020/02/power-of-a-song-in-a-strange-land.php