African Diaspora Archaeology Network title image

world map

African-American Archaeology

Newsletter of the African-American Archaeology Network

Applied Archaeology and History Associates,
615 Fairglen Lane, Annapolis, MD 21401 :: ISBN 1060-0671

Number 25, Fall 1999

John P. McCarthy, Editor

Message from the Editor

I have several items to bring to your attention at this time:

1) Readership -- We now have over 150 subscribers to A-A A, over 30 of whom are scholars in the developing world. While most of the subscribers are professional archaeologists or historians, a surprising number are educators and interested lay people. We, of course, welcome our subscribers from outside the profession of archaeology, and we invite them to tell us about their interests in the field and how they make use of A-A A.

2) Subscription Renewals -- Far too many of you have not renewed your subscription for 1999. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the newsletter is in rather dire financial shape. Please check your label -- if says "98" after your name, this is your last newsletter unless you pay your 1999 fee. I also encourage everyone to renew for 2000 as soon as possible -- see the next item.

3) Fee Increases -- As A-A A goes from 3 times a year to a quarterly publication schedule, it is necessary to increase the subscription fees as follows: $6.00 student; $8.00 individual; $15.00 institutions/outside the USA. These rates will go into effect on January 1, 2000. Renewals will be accepted at the old rates ($4.00 student, $6.00 individual, and $8.00 institutions) until then.

4) Compilation Volume -- A bound compilation of issues 1-25 of A-A A is in production for a January roll-out. In addition to copies of the first 25 issues of the newsletter, the compilation will include several specially commissioned essays and an index to major articles. I anticipate that the volume will sell for approximately $25.00. Stay tuned for more details as this project develops.

5) Contributions -- We are always looking for substantive contributions to A-A A. Please consider the newsletter as your direct pipeline to the community of scholars with whom you most want to share the results of your work, "float trial balloons," etc.

6) Book Review Co-Editors -- Please join me in welcoming Fred McGhee and Mark Warner as our new book review editors. Contact either (or me) if interested in reviewing a book.

That's about all I want to share at this time. It continues to be an honor to serve as the editor/publisher of A-A A. Please feel free to contact me about any matter related to the newsletter.


  • Congratulations!!!
  • A Bibliography on African Traditional Religion: Part 1
  • Internet Resources
  • Book Reviews and Notes
  • News and Announcements
  • Editorial Staff
  • Subscription Information


    Dr. Robert L. Schuyler, Chair of the Society for Historical Archaeology Awards Committee, recently announced that the first recipient of the JOHN L. COTTER AWARD in Historical Archaeology will be A-A A's Assistant Editor, PAUL R. MULLINS, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, for his book Race and Affluence: an Archaeology of African America and Consumer Culture (1999). The committee felt that this volume has helped establish an entirely new topic of study within historical archaeology, namely the study of race and racism in the context of capitalist consumerism. Be sure to see the review of this exciting volume in this issue!

    Top of Page

    A Bibliography on African Traditional Religion: Part 1

    Chidi Denis Isizoh

    Editor's Note: This is the first of several installments.

    Abrahamsson, H.
    1951    The Origin of Death, Studies in African Mythology, Studia Ethnographica Upsaliensia III, Uppsala, 1951.

    Ackah, C. A.
    1988    Akan Ethics: A Study of the Moral Ideas and the Moral Behaviour of the Akan Tribes of Ghana, Accra, 1988.

    Achebe, Chinua
    1975    "Chi in Igbo Cosmology," in In Morning Yet on Creation Day, New York.
    1986    The World of the Ogbanje, Enugu, 1986.

    Adebajo, S.
    1989    "Kori - The Yoruba Deity of Children," Orita 21, 65-77.

    Adegbite, A.
    1988    "The Drum and Its Role in Yoruba Religion," Journal of Religion in Africa 18, 15-26.

    Adelowo, E. D.
    1986    "A Comparative Study of Creation Stories in Yoruba Religion, Islam, and Judaeo-Christianity," African Theological Journal 15, 29-53.

    Adewale, S. A.
    1983    "The Significance of Traditional Religion in Yoruba Traditional Society," Orita 15, 3-15.
    1986    "The Cultic Use of Water among the Yoruba," Orita 18, 28-39.
    1988    "Sacrifice in African Traditional Religion," Orita 20, 91-106.
    1994    "Crime and African Traditional Religion," Orita 26:1-2, 54-66.

    Aguilar, M.
    1996    "The Eagle as Messenger, Pilgrim, and Voice: Divinatory Processes among the Waso Boorana of Kenya," Journal of Religion in Africa 26, 56-72.

    Ajayi, B.
    1992    "The Derivation of Omo Odù in the Ifa Literary Corpus," Orita 24, 1-11.

    Akoi, P.
    1970    Religion in African Social Heritage, Rome.

    Akpunonu, P. D.
    1965    "The Religion of the Ibos, Yesterday and Today," Lux 2: 1, 85-94.

    Amankulor, J. N.
    1972    "Ekpe Festivals as Religious Ritual and Dance Drama," Ikenga 1: 2, 37-47.

    Anyanwu, H. O.
    1985    "Why the Igbos Abandoned Their Gods," African Theological Journal 14, 91-99.

    Annyereh, L.
    1989    "Marriage among the Konkomba," The Northern Review 8, 13-17.

    Ardener, E.
    1956    Coastal Bantu of the Cameroons, London.

    Argyle, W. J.
    1966    The Fon of Benin, Oxford.

    Arinze, F. A.,
    1970    Sacrifice in Ibo Religion, Ibadan.

    Armstrong, R. G.
    1975    "African Religion and Cultural Renewal," Orita 9, 109-132.

    Ashton, E. H.
    1943    Medicine, Magic, and Sorcery among the Southern Sotho, Cape Town.

    Awino, J. O.,
    1994    "Towards an analytical African Theology: The Luo Concept of God as a Case in Point," Afer 36, 171-180.

    Awolalu, J. O.
    1968    "Aiyélála; A Guardian of Social Morality," Orita 2, 79-90.
    1972    "The African View of Man," Orita 6, 108-116.
    1973    "Yoruba Sacrificial Practice," Journal of Religion in Africa 5, 81-93.
    1979    "Sin and its Removal in African Traditional Religion," Orita 10, 3-22.
    1979    "The concept of Death and Hereafter," West African Religion 18, 57-69.
    1979    Yoruba Beliefs and Sacrificial Rites, London.
    1981    "Continuity and Discontinuity in African Religion: The Yoruba Experience," Orita 13, 3-20.
    1987    "Scape-Goatism in Yoruba Religion," Orita 19, 3-9.

    Awolalu, J. O. and P. A. Dopamu
    1979    West African Traditional Religion, Ibadan.

    Baal, J. van,
    1971    Symbols for Communication: An Introduction to the Anthropological Study of Religion, Assen.

    Babalola, E. O.
    1991    "The reality of African traditional religion: A Yoruba Case Study," The Nigerian Journal of Theology 6, 50-63.

    1992    "The Significance of Yoruba Songs in the Study of African Traditional Religion: The Owo Experience," The Living Word 98, 452-462.

    Balina, A., et al.
    1970    Sukuma Expression of Traditional Religion in Life, Kipalapala.

    Barret, D. B., ed.,
    1971    African Initiatives in Religion, Nairobi.

    Barnard, A.
    1988    "Structure and Fluidity in Khoisan Religious Ideas," Journal of Religion in Africa 18, 216-236.

    Bartels, L.
    1983    Oromo Religion, Mythes and Rites of the Western Oromo of Ethiopia, Berlin.

    Bartle, P.
    1983    "The Universe Has Three Souls: Notes on Translating Akan Culture," Journal of Religion in Africa 14, 85-114.

    Bascom, W.
    1960    "Yoruba Concepts of Soul," in Men and Cultures, edited by A. F. C. Wallace, Philadelphia.
    1969    Ifa Divination: Communication Between Gods and Men in West Africa, London.

    Basden, G. T.
    1966    Among the Ibos of Nigeria, London (originally 1931).
    1966    Niger Ibos, London (originally 1938 ).

    Beattie, J., and J. Middleton (ed.)
    1969    Spirit Mediumship and Society in Africa, London.

    Becken, H.
    1995    "Sounds of the double-headed drums," Mission Studies 12 , 226-246.

    Beidelman, T. O.
    1963    "The Blood Covenant and the Concept of Blood in Ukaguru," Africa 33, 321-342.
    1964    "Pig: An Essay on Ngulu Sexual Symbolism and Ceremony," Anthropology 20, 359-392.
    1965    "Notes on Boyhood Initiation among the Ngulu of East Africa," Man 65, 143-147.

    Beier, U.
    1982    Yoruba Beaded Crowns: Sacred Regalia of the Olokuku of Okuku, London.

    Belves, F. F. C.
    1953    "Kikuyu Religion," African Affairs, 202-246.

    Berger, R.
    1969    "Is Traditional Religion Still Relevant?" Orita 3, 15-26.

    Berglund, A. I.
    1976    Zulu Thought Patterns and Symbolism, Cape Town.

    Bernardi, B.
    1958    The Mugwe: A Failing Prophet, Oxford.

    Binsbergen W. van, and M. Schoffeleers (eds.)
    1985    Theoretical Explorations in African Religion, London.

    Binsbergen W. van, and M. Schoffeleers
    1995    "Four-tablet divination as Trans-regional Medical Technology in Southern Africa," Journal of Religion in Africa 25, 114-140.

    Biobaku, S.
    1955    "The Use and Interpretation of Yoruba Myths," Odu 1.

    Blakely, T. D., E. A. van B. Walter, and L. T. Dennis (eds.)
    1994    Religion in Africa: Experience and Expression, London.

    Boeck F.
    1936    "Healing from the Margin: Symbolic and Diachronic Study of Inter-cultural Therapeutic and Divinatory Roles among Luund and Chokwe," in Ethnicity in Africa, edited by W. van Binsbergen & K. Schilder, London.

    Boer H.R.
    1986    "Time as an Aspect of Traditional African Eeschatology," Reformed Review 39, 199-205.

    Bohannan, L., and P. Bohannan
    1953    The Tiv of Central Nigeria, Ethnographic Survey of Africa, London.

    Bohannan, P.
    1953    "Concepts of Time among the Tiv of Nigeria," Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 9, 251-262.

    Bombwe, G.
    1970    "Some Traditional Prayers of the Luguru", Cahiers des Religions Africaines, 253-258.

    Bongne, J.
    1989    "Adultery Rite of Purification among the Dagaaba," The Northern Review 8, 1-12.

    Booth, N. S. , Jr.
    1975    "Time and Change in African Traditional Thought," Journal of Religion in Africa 7, 81-91.
    1976    "Civil Religion in Traditional Africa", in Africa Today, 23/24, 56-66.
    1977    "An Approach to African Religions," in African Religions: A Symposium, edited by N. S. Booth, Jr., 1-11, New York.
    1977    "God and the Gods in West Africa," in African Religions: A Symposium, edited by N. S. Booth, Jr., 159-181, New York.
    1978    "Tradition and Community in African Religion," Journal of Religion in Africa 9, 81-94.

    Bourdillon, M. F. C.
    1979    "Religion and Ethics in Korekore Society," Journal of Religion in Africa 10, 81-94.

    Bourgeois, A.
    1983    "Mukoko Ngoombu: Divination Paraphernalia of the Yaka," African Arts 15, 56-59, 80.

    Brookman-Amissah, J.
    1987    "The Vocation of Traditional Priests in Akan Society," Cahiers des Religions Africaines, 87-99.

    Bryant, M. D.
    1995    "African Wisdom and the Recovery of the Earth," Orita 27, 49-58.

    Bücher, H.
    1980    Spirits and Power, an Analysis of Shona Cosmology, Cape Town.

    Burton, J. W.
    1961    "Luba Religion and Magic in Custom and Belief", Annales du Musée de Tervuren 35.

    Butt-Thompson, F. W.
    1970    West African Secret Societies, Westport, Conn.

    Byaruhanga-Akiiki, A. B. T.
    1980    "The philosophy and Theology of Time in Africa: The Bantu Case," Afer 22, 357-369.
    1989    "African Traditional Values for Human Development," in Church Contribution to Integral Development, edited by J. T. Agbasiere and B. K. Zabajungu, 45-62, Eldoret.

    Top of Page

    Internet Resources

    Information on Black Seminoles

    Floyd Ingram

    The following links are to sites featuring information on Black Seminoles:

    Book Reviews and Notes

    Editor's Note: I am extremely please to welcome our new co-book review editors:

    Fred McGhee
    1240 Barton Hills Dr. #207
    Austin, TX 78704
    (512) 912-0906 (home)
    (512) 475-7904 (work)

    Mark Warner
    Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Justice Studies
    University of Idaho
    P.O. Box 441110
    Moscow, Idaho 83844-1110
    (208) 885-5954 (work)

    Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa: Archaeology, History, Languages, Cultures, and Environments

    Joseph O. Vogel (editor), Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 1997. 604 pp., 70 figures, 24 tables, list of contributors, references, index. $125.00 (cloth).

    Review by Sam Spiers, Syracuse University

    This encyclopedia affords a welcome, if ambitious, summation of the multidisciplinary scholarship of precolonial Africa to date. Joseph Vogel successfully brings together 81 specialists covering archaeological, historical, linguistic, socio-cultural anthropological and environmental data and research. The volume covers a range of issues that will be of interest to the Africanist and non-Africanist alike, helping to dispel many of the myths and mysteries surrounding the "Dark Continent" (p. 17). Such introductory essays will hopefully be of use in addressing the lack of African material used in comparative research and anthropological theory building (for example on state formation or urbanism), and the Eurocentric view that historical archaeology begins with European expansion and colonization in the 15th century in most world areas.

    Unlike the alphabetical listings of other encyclopedias, this volume is organized along thematic lines, with the first four sections providing useful background information and context on the environment, the history of research in Africa, technology, and a more general section on peoples and cultures which includes languages, foodways and ethnoarchaeology. The final section of the volume, under the heading of the Prehistory of Africa, deals more specifically with case studies and regions, from hominid origins to social complexity and historical archaeology. Overall this organization works well, though reading from cover to cover there is naturally some repetition. This enables each entry, however, to stand alone. Jargon is kept to a minimum, and where used is generally explained. Short bibliographies at the end of each essay direct the reader to the pertinent literature in that field.

    In the Technology section, Driskell and Motz's article on stoneworking provides a useful summary of terms, techniques and definitions, though does not problematize the use of European nomenclature for African traditions, especially for the Upper Palaeolithic/Late Stone Age industries (to some extent, however, this is treated in later specific entries, for example Holl's (p. 307) discussion of the West African Neolithic). The sections on ceramic, copper and iron production provide good examples of ethnographic, ethnoarchaeological model building, with de Barros essay on Ironworking in its Cultural Context providing a highlight. Much of the work summarized in these sections has proven to be of use in interpreting historic period smelting/smithing sites in the Caribbean. Huffman's cognitive analysis of architecture and settlement pattern seems somewhat out of place in this section, as it deals specifically with variations in Bantu settlement pattern, and less with technology, other than to suggest that spatial locations provide "physical backdrops for social behavior and in many cases help to shape it" (p. 150).

    In the People and Culture section, the linguistic articles help to stress that the relation of languages descended from a unique proto-language can help to trace migration patterns beyond the framework of oral history, and possibly correlate these patterns with that of the archaeological record. Such an analysis is not without its problems, as Nurse illustrates for the languages of eastern and southern Africa. The remaining entries in this section deal with modes of substance or production.

    While there is some overlap between essays, each deals with a specific problem or mode of analysis, from social organization to questions of technology. For foraging lifeways ethnographic models are drawn predominantly from Eastern and Southern Africa, and the discussion of pastoralist lifeways is confined to the north-eastern, eastern and southern portions of the continent. The section on farming techniques and food crops by Harlan will be of interest to those studying the African Diaspora in the Americas, where at the most general level similarities between agricultural practices have been stressed, for example with rice cultivation in the American south. The two excellent articles on ethnoarchaeology in this section seem out of place, and should have perhaps been included in a methods or technology section with the case of Levy on pottery production, or in the history of research section with the case of MacEachern on ethnoarchaeology in Western Africa. It is interesting to note that the distribution of sites and traditions of research have lead to a focus on analogies drawn from hunter-forager and pastoralist groups in the eastern and southern half of the continent and the implications this has for palaeoanthropology, while a focus on agricultural societies has been much more the norm in western Africa ethnoarchaeological studies, partly due to the relative absence of early hominid sites (p. 240).

    The final section, the Prehistory of Africa, follows a general temporal (and then within this topical and regional) framework, with the welcome additions of sections on rock art and an entry on maritime archaeology. Consisting of over half of the volume, it is impossible to review in its entirety here. One general observation is that while the focus is predominantly on sub-Saharan Africa, the inclusion of northern Africa, through its relation to the rest of the continent during various periods, helps to move away from seeing the continent south of the Sahara as isolated, while still emphasizing regional diversity, inventiveness and continuities. Key essays which will probably be of interest to A-A A readers include MacEachern's Western African Iron Age; Vaum's Western African States; two essays by Kelly: Western African and Western Saharan Trade, and Slave Trade in Africa (though the latter is, unfortunately, more a review of the ethnographic and historical literature, rather than the archaeological); and DeCorse's Western African Historical Archaeology.

    Overall, I think this is an extremely thoughtful and useful collection of essays; one which manages to convey the complexities of historical research, in the broad sense, in Africa: a diverse history which draws on multiple sets of data, research traditions and environmental contexts and adaptations, without losing sight of the peoples and cultures who we seek to understand as anthropologists.

    Race and Affluence: An Archaeology of African America and Consumer Culture

    Paul R. Mullins, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, 1999. xiv + 217 pages, figures, tables, references, index. $59.95 (cloth).

    Review by Patricia M. Samford, Tryon Palace Historic Sites and Gardens

    After Emancipation, African Americans found themselves supposedly full participants in a society where they possessed the legal rights to labor for wages and purchase the material amenities they desired. In reality, the emergence of African-American consumer culture was never a simple matter, as its participants strove to create economic strategies that circumvented racism while also securing for themselves social and material prosperity. Attaining these desires was made more difficult as Whites, in the wake of African Americans' newly freed status, strove to distance themselves using a variety of mechanisms that privileged the White experience. In Race and Affluence, Mullins explores the complex interplay between race and consumer culture during the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first three decades of this century. Using a theoretical approach that focuses on material symbolism, he examines documentary and archaeological evidence from Annapolis, Maryland to explore how race and racism shaped African-American consumer experiences. This work, extending well beyond the confines of African-American consumer choices, also addresses the realms of work, production, and labor relations.

    Mullins draws on a wide range of documents and other materials, including editorials in African-American newspapers, advertisements, racist propaganda, city directories, and archaeological findings, to examine a variety of topics associated with the politics of consumer culture as experienced by African Americans. In early chapters, these topics include the effects of racist advertising, the seeming contradictions of African-American participation in mass-produced "Western" medicines, and the interplay of gender and race in formulating what was considered appropriate behavior for women. One compelling section addresses the politics of African-American physical bodies and the restrictions placed upon them both mentally and physically by white culture. These restrictions ranged from the seemingly more benign world of cosmetics advertising and "standards" of beauty, to the more brutal actions of racial resettlement and the Ku Klux Klan.

    As Mullins shows in this book, African Americans were not only acted upon by larger marketing forces, but also played important roles as entrepreneurs within the local community. A chapter is devoted to African-American market spaces in Annapolis, focusing on economic organizations that worked within and around the margins of the white-dominated market world. Another chapter examines the racialization of labor in the Chesapeake Bay seafood industry, linking the decrease in African-American seafood consumption at the end of the nineteenth century to racial stereotyping and the social stigmatization by Whites of fishing and seafood as non-genteel.

    In the final sections of the book, Mullins focuses on patterns of African-American consumption. He examines different acquisition strategies and tactics of African-American laborers, including redistribution of goods, theft, and gifting. He also addresses the roles of the African-American domestic labor force, from their unique positions within white households, in quietly shaping the American South, helping to undermine racism, and sparking material and social hybridization.

    Mullins portrays the world of African-American Annapolitans as complex and often contradictory. They were often forced to make difficult choices between the conflicting realms of racial pride and the desire to follow white consumer mandates in a world where material affluence was equated with social empowerment. This focus on complexity and the contradictions that characterize human experience is a real strength of this volume. Racism is not given a simple treatment -- instead it is portrayed as having both constraining and enabling effects for African Americans.

    Specific archaeological analysis focused on changing dietary patterns as revealed by faunal remains, the symbolic meanings of certain categories of consumer goods (such as campaign paraphernalia and bric-a-brac), and patterns of ceramic acquisition. The author does a reasonable job of integrating the archaeological data with his overall study, but I believe his documentary sources present more compelling evidence for his arguments. It will be interesting to see how his conclusions compare with future archaeological research in Annapolis and elsewhere.

    Mullins has written a thoughtful and insightful study of broad significance. Because this work is important, from the standpoint of both African-American history and the emergence of American consumer culture, I hope that Mullins plans several popular publications based on his work. Race and Affluence, written for an academic readership, will not be easily accessible to a broader audience. There is much of interest in this book and it should be shared with more than a scholarly audience.

    Here, the world of consumerism is viewed as a microcosm of race relations overall. In the decades following the end of the study period, not much has really changed in the United States. While the world we live in today has improved from that of the early twentieth century, many of the same issues of surveillance, stereotyping, marginalization, and moralizing are still with us today. At the end of the twentieth century, race is still a highly contested and politicized issue. Access to material goods and symbols of affluence are still controlled, but we've just gotten somewhat better at disguising the racist intent behinds these actions. The debilitating effects of racism are still with us, however, and we would do well to read this book and examine our own world a bit more closely.

    I Was Born a Slave. An Anthology of Classic Slave Narratives, Two volumes

    Yuval Taylor (editor), Lawrence Hill Books, Chicago, 1999. xxxviii + 764/796 pp., bibliography, illustrations from the originals. $21.00 each (paper), $35.00 each (cloth).

    Review by Marshall Joseph Becker, West Chester University

    These two massive volumes include 20 powerful narratives documenting the lives of their 22 authors who spent part of their lives in slavery. Like the "captivity" narratives of colonists carried away by Native Americans, these stories became a popular literary form specifically because the perils of living in bondage. Here we read, at the turn of a page, as in the blink of a slave's eye, of death and other disasters. Taylor indicates that there exist some 6,000 of these "accounts" of which the vast majority are only brief records. However, "approximately 150 of them were separately published as books or pamphlets" (p. xv), ranging from only eight pages in length to two volumes. Thus, the 20 accounts in these two volumes represent only some 13 percent of all those longer "slave" narratives. The value of this collection, together with its useful notes, cannot be overstated.

    The longer narratives all have similarities reflecting the markets for these tales. Yet within these accounts there is a wealth of information that merits the serious scholarly attention now being directed to them. They comprise a valuable data base from which to examine the extensive, and very expensive, archaeological effort that is being made to recover the fundamental record of daily lives of these people when they were in bondage. The archaeological record provides a type of documentation that is invaluable in reviewing these stories, but all the efforts made to date to recover the past do not provide a tiny fraction of insight that is offered by these accounts. For example, William Parker's account (p. 747) of the huge orphanage-like building for single people and unattached children on the Major William Brogdon estate in Maryland sets a standard for description by which archaeological reports should be measured. Each of these literary records also may be investigated from the viewpoint of anthropologists and folklorists, as well as ethnohistorians who can use parallel evidence to explore each of these tales as it exists in this record.

    The foreward by Charles Johnson has a polemic tone almost obligatory when discussing slavery. Like the introduction, it touches on present politics and several other subjects that relate to these materials. Much is made of Andrew Johnson's 1866 veto of a bill that would have provided homesteads for the freed slaves. This "what if" scenario is interesting, but poorly thought out. Yet in these few pages Johnson summarizes some of the important concerns that make this massive two volume compilation worth adding to your shelves.

    In his long introduction Taylor provides an excellent framework within which these narratives may be placed. Taylor describes the development of the genre, the shift toward the literary form that produced the majority of these substantive accounts, and the changes that resulted in the form after the Civil War. Taylor points out that there is a repetition common to these narratives, often filling as much as a quarter of each work. The reasons for this development, and much that is useful to understanding these important texts, here is effectively summarized within the context of the history of slavery.

    Taylor includes comments regarding many of the other narratives, plus a brief note on each of the 20 authors and/or their works that he has selected. Following this format, and incorporating other data from the text, I have abstracted the names, publication dates, and significance of each particular work so that readers of this review can see why this collection merits their attention.

    1. James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, 1772. This autobiographical account is considered to be the first published example of the "slave narrative."

    2. Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa), 1789. One of the longer accounts, including ethnographic data and insights into the actual workings of the slave trade in Africa.

    3. William Grimes, 1824/25. This narrative of suffering and bleak endurance was, when published, the longest autobiography written by an African American. More significantly, this text shifted the direction of the genre away from a tradition of some 50 years. Initially, slave narratives, provided a description of their author's "lives as adventures or spiritual journeys" (p. xv). The Grimes document focuses on a description of slavery and all of its more horrid aspects, setting forth a new type of narrative with goals far different than those written earlier.

    4. Nat Turner, 1831. The "confessions" of this well-known leader of a slave revolt is very brief, but reveals numerous important elements. Embedded in this often cited text is suggestion that Turner was leading a classic "revitalization movement" among the slaves who were held in this part of America.

    5. Charles Ball, 1836. This is considered the longest and most detailed antebellum slave narrative that we have, providing one of the most extensive views of plantation life as seen from "the slave's point of view" (p. xxxiii). The complex narrative is a cross between Melville and the modern adventure novel.

    6. Moses Roper, 1838. Despite Olaudah Equiano's British connection, Taylor believes Roper to be the "first fugitive slave to widely publicize his experiences to British audiences." The sadistic behaviors of his master, Mr. Gooch, came to stereotype the attitudes and acts of all slaveholders.

    7. Frederick Douglass, 1845. This narrative is the first of the three autobiographies by this well-known fugitive slave. His "unparalleled rhetorical skills" are admirably displayed here, leading this text to become "the most widely studied slave narrative" (p. xxxiii).

    8. Lewis Clarke, 1845/46; and J. Milton Clark, 1846. Like Frederick Douglass, Lewis Clarke had lectured for years on the American Anti-Slavery Society circuit (p. 602). A year after its first printing Lewis's account was published together with that of his brother. Certainly these accounts demonstrate why Taylor calls them "two of the most engaging slave storytellers" (p. xxxiii).

    9. William Wells Brown, 1847. In addition to producing this version of his life, Brown's publications lead him to be considered as the first African-American novelist and playwright.

    10. Josiah Henson, 1849. The various versions of this account "proved to be the most popular slave narrative of the nineteenth century," earning the author the title of "'the original Uncle Tom'" (p. xxxiii).

    11. Henry Bibb, 1849. This is a "love story" (p. 2) combined with a frontier adventure tale that recounts Bibb's escape from slavery and later attempts to rescue his wife and child.

    12. James W. C. Pennington, 1849. The most interesting aspect of this work is the narrative focus on "questions of property and ownership" from a "well-known abolitionist minister and one of the most educated and literate black men of his time (p. xxxiii).

    13. Solomon Northup, 1853. The kidnapping in 1841 of this "free black man of New York" (p. xxxiv) and his 12 years in the deep South place this story in a position parallel to the Indian captivity stories, perhaps accounting for its great popularity.

    14. John Brown, 1855. Taylor considers this to be "the most brutal of these narratives" (p. xxxiv), which is saying a lot. However, it differs from the Moses Roper account and may in its own way be more chilling.

    15. John Thompson, 1856. An extremely interesting account that includes a whaling voyage during which the author made a visit to Africa.

    16. William and Ellen Craft, 1860. This narrative of their life and their brilliant escape on the eve of the Civil War "successfully blurs distinctions between white and black, master and slave, man and woman" (p. xxxiv).

    17. Harriet Jacobs [Linda Brent] 1861, edited by Lydia Maria Child. Jacobs is the first female to write her own story, providing us with a powerful and detailed account of servitude from a woman's point of view.

    18. Jacob D. Green, 1864. The Brer Rabbit motif appears in several of the works included in these two volumes and is common in this narrative tradition. Yet Taylor identifies Green as "the only slave narrator to make full use of the trickster tradition" (p. xxxiv). Each of Green's three escapes is an interesting story.

    19. James Mars, 1864. Since Mars was born in Connecticut, in 1790, and spent his entire life north of the Mason-Dixon line his narrative provides an important reminder of the extent of slavery prior to the nineteenth century and insight into how slavery operated in different parts of the country.

    20. William Parker 1866 (first published in two parts in the February and March issues of The Atlantic Monthly). Parker's text, edited by "Edmund Kirke" (pen name of James R. Gilmore) includes many interesting details about slave life that should be reflected in the archaeological record. His armed
    resistance against slave hunters in 1851 is often identified as the first "battle" of the Civil War.

    The ten stories selected for Volume One begin with the first known account in this tradition, published in 1772, and ends with Josiah Henson's account published in 1849. Volume Two begins with the Henry Bibb narrative, also published in 1849, and concludes with the extremely important William Parker account of the armed resistance to southern slave hunters by African Americans at Christiana in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

    As Taylor points out in his introduction, the focus and intent of these narratives shifted considerably over the nearly 100 years of their production. While reasons for the post Civil War shift is made relatively clear, reasons for the change in emphasis that begins with the Grimes account (1824/25) warrants further discussion. An examination of the market for these narratives, the periods of their peak production and volumes of sales would tell us much about the literary niche that they occupied. These stories are filled with sex and violence, fear and trembling, and all the ingredients that go into the production of the bodice rippers so popular today. Their period of production largely predates the frontier novels and westerns

    Interesting is how many of these authors were sons of veterans of the American Revolution, where some 20 percent of the enlisted troops may have been men of color. That the liberty they fought for was not available to all leads us to consider these situations within their own context. While more of these tales are deliberately selected records of horrible situations, we should remember that life for all Americans in that span of history was far from ideal. The lives of indentured servants were not much, if at all different from those depicted in these narratives. Johnson (p. x) even notes that the 20 Africans sold at Jamestown in 1619 were referred to as "indentured servants." But those countless victims of lethal if not simply unhappy indentures, like the many brutalized sons and daughters of average free people, could not paint their tales against a canvas of an evil institution.

    Each of these volumes can be read independently. Both, however, have the same foreword and the same introduction, and both end with the same annotated list of recommended readings followed by nearly six pages of other works cited.

    The Wreck of The Henrietta Marie. An African-American Spiritual Journal to Uncover A Sunken Ship's Past

    Michael H. Cottman, Harmony Books, New York, 1999. 242 pp., prologue, time line, epilogue, bibliography, index, $23.00 (cloth).

    Nancy-Elizabeth Fitch, College of New Rochelle

    Cottman's volume about the Henrietta Marie is a beautifully conceived and executed epiphany. Cottman, a journalist by profession, searches for and commemorates that part of the story of the African in the Americas that general readers may not often find discussed in terms they can understand or empathize with. He goes far beyond the mere idea of the "Middle Passage," in order to look at the slave trade through a personalized history of one particular ship, the Henrietta Marie: its creation, and its instruments and equipment for human destruction and spirit-breaking. There are also the beginnings of a discussion about the nature of the men and their families (including contemporary descendants) who would be part of the machinery (or its beneficiaries/heirs) for the transport of other human beings, not just as ship captains but as ship-builders, ironmongers, cannon makers and fitters, and investors, who though having only indirect association with the atrocities of the trade, were nevertheless not benign participants. It is one story of many, in the history of the Atlantic slave trade, but is important and different because, in terms of an archaeological search, it converges recovery of artifacts from a shipwreak that connects African captives, the sea, particularly the Atlantic Ocean, and forces of nature, with the adventures of 20th-century Black scuba-divers. These men and women, especially members of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABSD), are sharing an interest in deep sea-diving, and also making history themselves by pursuing recognition and distinction in a field, whether vocation or sport, still dominated by whites, but also by racism.

    The archaeological aspects of the story, once the wreak of the Henrietta Marie is located off Florida's Key West - with its shackles, ale bottles, glass bead currency, pewter dishware, elephant tusks, cannon, and ship's bell which identified the ship's remains - provide palpable evidence of the journey of African peoples to the western hemisphere and their enslavement. Black scuba diver and treasure hunter, Demosthenes "Moe" Molinar, a black Panamanian, discovered the wreck in 1973, and Cottman writes that in finding "the shackles from the Henrietta Marie on the ocean floor [he brought] . . . the Henrietta Marie to the forefront of the archaeology community and to the world. Without [his] phenomenal discovery, the slave ship would still be buried beneath sand and clay, quite possibly for another three hundred years." Members of the NABSD, along with other fellow divers, were uniquely placed to play an integral role in this story's telling, and in developing and interpreting artifacts for a traveling exhibition while also planning and performing a commemorative service where a plaque was placed in the ocean marking a space/place where African peoples, over a period of four generations, lost their spirits and too many their lives as well.

    When the Henrietta Marie sank, it was not transporting Africans, for they had just disembarked in Jamaica. The slaver went down with its crew, on its return trip to Europe, during a violent storm. But the Atlantic Ocean is considered hallowed space/place because millions of Africans, who were taken captive, never reached the West Indies or North America having died, or been killed, during their passage across the ocean. Cottman, and others in the book, speak often of the spirits of those who perished during the Middle Passage and find inspiration in those, their ancestors who were survivors, who struggled, protested and persevered on land until, and even after, freedom from slavery was won.

    This is a very personal and appropriately subjective writing of the tragic and inhuman history of slavery, but the finding of artifacts not only fills gaps in the written text, but also helps to legitimize Cottman's outrage and places African peoples most prominently in the midst of European colonial economic history and commercial policies. I break company with Cottman only in his placing racism above what economic determinists, such as myself, see as an horrific commercial and trade policy based on the greed of the Europeans, of a certain class, who then in turn, justified their brutality with "scientific" theories that attempted to turn men, women, and children into non-human beings or animals. In other words racism, if not racialism, followed a money trail.

    To his credit, besides his underwater activities relating to the Henrietta Marie, Cottman uses traditional primary source material in archives and libraries in England, the Caribbean, and the United States -- and he visits three continents, on land and sea, to trace the places the ship sailed. He also seeks out oral testimonies from Black descendants of captive Africans, as well as the family or heirs of those associated with the processes of enslaving "innocents." Cottman is not a professional historian. He is, however, a student of history who clearly appreciates its significance in a community's moving forward into the future. A journalist, his "history" is also personal epiphany -- moving and emotive; his passion, regret, and anger legitimate in the telling, and his sense of adventure invigorating. Cottman, who has written the book on the Million Man March, considers this particular experience, for those who took part in it (including women divers), a mini Million Man March!

    Michael Cottman's story of the recovery of the wreak of the Henrietta Marie, should energize the study of the history of African peoples brought to the Americas, and most especially the field of archaeology. And, as the usefulness of deep sea-diving to that history is better understood, increase the number of divers of color and we can hope also archaeologists of color. This is an important book because of its accessibility to the general reader and its discussion of new directions in historical research and techniques for the specialist.

    Top of Page

    News and Announcements

    Professor Ira Berlin Moderates a Web Forum on Teaching Slavery

    Starting October 1, 1999, Ira Berlin will moderate an open discussion on teaching slavery on the HISTORY MATTERS Web site. The site serves as a gateway to the web for teachers of the U.S. History Survey course. Professor Berlin will answer questions about teaching slavery and lead a discussion on this topic among participants. The discussion will focus particularly on how approaches to teaching about slavery in the standard U.S. history survey course and suggestions for resources or strategies.

    Teaching the Anthropology of Ethnicity

    David Beriss, University of New Orleans

    My university is encouraging us to use fancy new software to provide an on-line version of our courses, and I have done so. Since this is the first time I have a) taught this topic and b) used on-line content, I thought I would invite comments, suggestions and critiques from colleagues. Guests may login with the username "guestviewer" and the password "guest" (don't use the quotation marks). There is, of course, a copy of my syllabus, various documents and links and, perhaps most interestingly, a few discussion forums centered on material available on the web. You can get to the course at the following address: (requires password).

    I'd be interested in any comments.

    Nineteenth-Century Documents Project

    Produced by the History Department at Furman University in South Carolina, this site features full texts of primary documents in nineteenth-century American history "with special emphasis on those sources that shed light on sectional conflict and transformations in regional identity." The site has thus far posted documents ranging from newspaper editorials and abolitionist tracts to political speeches and legislative resolutions. These materials will aid researchers examining issues of Slavery and Sectionalism, the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854, the Dred Scott Case, the election of 1860, the secession of the Southern states, and the immediate aftermath of the Civil War in the South. The site also features a statistical almanac of the 1850s, which includes but is not limited to data on slave mortality and survival; the ratio of slaveholders to families in 1860 (by state); presidential elections, 1844-1860; and Growth in Railroad Mileage, 1850-1860. Some documents may have some minor errors, but fully proofed documents are clearly marked.

    Teaching with Historic Places: Iron Hill School

    This site, part of the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places Website, structures a lesson plan on Progressive Era education around the history of a one-room African-American school house at Iron Hill in rural northern Delaware. In addition to interviews with former pupils of the school, the Website offers readings, images, and activities concerning the issues of African-American education, Progressive Era philanthropy, and the processes of "creating history" through documentary research and the taking of oral histories. Teachers are provided with thorough instructions on the use of the site in a classroom setting. The lesson was written by Susan Brizzolara Wojcik, Historic Preservation Planner for the New Castle County Department of Land Use.

    The Electronic African Bookworm - A Web Navigator

    This fine gateway devoted to African studies has been developed by Hans Zell Publishing Consultants in Oxford as part of their website and is "specifically designed for use by the book professions in Africa, and by African writers and scholars." With over 1,200 sites relating to African literature, history, general information, news, electronic networks, libraries, and resources for writers, journalists, and editors, the Electronic African Bookworm not only directs users to a wealth of information, but features many added annotations that suggest best starter resources, identify new sites and information, and provide background on site resources. Hans Zell's claim to provide "a quick-access guide and pick-list to some of the best Internet sites on Africa."

    Momuments of the Black Atlantic: History, Memory, Politics

    This is a conference that will take place in Williamsburg, VA, May 24-28, 2000. Cosponsored by the College of William and Mary Middle Passage Project, The Collegium for African American Research (CAAR) at the University of Southern Denmark, and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the conference will focus on the presence of Africans and their descendants in the Atlantic basin and elsewhere in the African diaspora. Topics may include: sites of memory, literacy, culture and acculturation, public monuments and commemoration, slave revolts and rebellions, representation, public history and preservation, yard dressing and other forms of material culture, archaeology, memory and counter-memory, imagined communities and collective memory, narrative memory, the reconstruction of memory, physiological and psychological dimensions of memory, political aspects of folk and traditional religions, santeria, obeah, condomble and vodun, gender politics, African independence and neocolonialism, diasporic identity and transnational politics, and papers related to historic sites of specific cultural interest. For additional information contact:

    Kimberley Phillips, College of William and Mary, or Carl Pedersen, University of Southern Denmark

    AFRICANS IN AMERICA: Places of Cultural Memory

    A Conference, AFRICANS IN AMERICA: Places of Cultural memory, will be held September 26-30, 2000, in New Orleans, Louisiana under the joint sponsorship of the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service, the National Association for African American Heritage Preservation, the U.S. Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, Howard University, the Slave Route Project of UNESCO, and the Smithsonian Institution. For nearly four centuries, Africans developed and shaped the landscape of the Americas, including what is now the United States. The imprint of African cultural lifeways over this period of time has many manifestations, Including the cultivation and harvesting of agricultural products, the design and construction of buildings, the platting of communities, the formation of landscapes, the use of natural environments, and the burials of relatives and friends. While many scholars and communities have studied and preserved many of the physical manifestations of African culture, many more potential historic properties await study and recognition. The goal of this conference is to convene interdisciplinary panels of experts whose presentations will assist in the fuller identification, evaluation, documentation, preservation, and interpretation of buildings, sites, districts, structures, and objects.

    Proposals for 20-minute presentations are invited to respond to one or more of the following major themes: 1) Memorizing places of diaspora, 2) Black cultural landscapes and institutions, 3) agricultural lifeways and technologies, and 4) legacies of urban realms and rural communities. A concise 350-400 word abstract with author's name(s), affiliation, summary resume (no more than 2 pages), postal and e-mail addresses, telephone and FAX numbers, and the theme to which the abstract is submitted. Authors of selected papers will receive free conference registration and a $500 honorarium. All submissions must arrive at the National Park Service by Tuesday, November 30, 1999. Mail submissions to: Africanisms in America: Places of Cultural Memory, Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service, 1849 C Street, N.W., Suite NC 330, Washington, DC 20240. FAX submissions may be sent to (202) 343-3921; e-mail submissions may be sent to <>. Notification of presentation selections will be mailed by February 29, 2000. Additional information on the conference is available: (888) 358-8388 or at (access denied).

    Shadows of the Past

    Middle States African Studies Association plans to hold its 1st Annual Conference: Shadows of the Past, March 23-26, 2000, at the Cultural Center, Charleston, West Virginia. Papers are expected on the following topics: Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Historical Legacy, Racialism, Ethnicity, Religion, Traditional Literature and Restoration Diaspora Studies and Pan-Africanism, Africa, Caribbean, Latin American International Relationships, Linguistic Transformation Environmentalism, and Curriculum Innovations. The conference will feature "A Slave Ship Speaks: The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie Exhibition of Tangible Artifacts." Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be submitted by December 22, 1999. Interested presenters please submit abstracts to: Dr. C. Stuart McGehee, Chair, Department of History, 307 Hill Hall, Campus Box 162, West Virginia State College, Institute, WV 25112-1000 (304) 766-3240 voc (304) 766-5186 fax.

    The North Star

    The Fall 1999 issue of "The North Star: A Journal of African American Religious History" is available online and includes reviews of web sites, news and announcements, a listing of new books and recent dissertations, as well as two articles: Charise Cheney, "Representin' God: Rap, Religion and the Politics of a Culture" and Joanna Brooks, John Marrant's Journal : Providence and Prophecy in the Eighteenth-Century Black Atlantic."

    Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

    Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Scholars-in Residence Fellowship Program for the 2000-2001 The Schomberg Center is a unit of the New York Public Library's Research Libraries. The Fellowship Program encompasses projects in African, Afro-American, and Afro-Caribbean history and culture, with an emphasis on African Diasporan Studies and Biography, Social History and African American Culture. Fellows are required to be in full-time residence at the Center during the six- or 12-month award period. They are expected to utilize the Center's resources extensively, participate in scheduled seminars, colloquia and luncheons, review and critique papers presented at these forums, and prepare a report on work accomplished at the end of their residency. The fellowship stipend is $25,000 for six months and up to $50,000 for twelve months. Application deadline is January 15, 2000. Additional information is available or (212)491-2228.

    Winterthur Fellowships

    Winterthur Fellowships: Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library invites applications for its 2000-2001 residential research fellowship program. A number of fellowships are avialable: NEH fellowships: Available to scholars pursuing advanced research, 4-12 months, $2500 per month; McNeil Dissertation Fellowships: Available to Ph.D. candidates, 1-2 semesters, $6500 per semester; Robert Lee Gill and Winterthur Research Fellowships: Available to academic and independent scholars and museum and public history professionals, 1-3 months, $1500 per month. Winterthur's library collections include half a million imprints, manuscripts, visual materials and printed ephemera that support research in the seventeenth through the early twentieth centuries. Winterthur's museum collection includes 89,000 domestic artifacts and works of art made or used in America to 1860. Winterthur's resources will support a wide variety of research topics including: history of American fine and decorative art; history of craft and craftsmanship; history of the family, domestic life, and childhood; refinement and consumerism; travel and tourism; historic preservation and popular memory; history of advertising, and many other topics in American art history, social and cultural history, and material culture. The application deadline for the 2000-01 academic year is Jan. 15, 2000. For more information contact: Gretchen Buggeln, Director, Research Fellowship Program, Office of Advanced Studies, Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, Winterthur, DE 19735, (302) 888-4649.

    Georgia African-American Heritage Brochures

    Georgia African-American Heritage Brochures have been developed by the Peach State Black Tourism Association, (404) 656-7829, and the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade, and Tourism, (404) 656-3590. This series of regional brochures is extremely well-illustrated and provides informative guidance to African-American historic sites across the state.

    Top of Page

    Editorial Staff

    Editor/Publisher: John P. McCarthy, 615 Fairglen Lane, Annapolis, MD 21491 (301) 220-1876

    Assistant Editor: Paul Mullins, Anthropology Department, IUPUI, Indianapolis, IN

    Book Reviews: Fred McGhee, 1240 Barton Hills Dr. #207, Austin, TX 78704, (512) 912-0906 (home) & (512) 475-7904 (work) AND
    Mark Warner, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Justice Studies, University of Idaho, P.O. Box 441110, Moscow,
    Idaho 83844, (208) 885-5954

    Progression!: Carol McDavid, 1406 Sul Ross, Houston, TX 77007

    Northeast: James Garmon, Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc., 210 Lonsdale Avenue, Pawtucket, RI 02860 (401) 728-8780

    Mid-Atlantic: Barbara Heath, The Corporation for Jefferson's Poplar Forest, P. O. Box 419, Forest, VA 24551

    Southeast: J. W. Joseph, New South Associates, Inc., 6150 East Ponce de Leon Ave., Stone Mountain, GA 30083 (770) 498-4155

    Caribbean: Paul Farnsworth, Dept. of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803

    Midwest: Matthew Emerson, Anthropology Department, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, IL 62026 (618) 692-5689

    Mid-South: Leslie "Skip" Stewart-Abernathy, Arkansas Archaeological Survey, P. O. Box 8706 AKU, Russellville, AK 72801 (501) 968-0381

    West: Laurie Wilkie, Anthropology Department, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720

    Top of Page

    Subscription Information:

    Subscriptions, by the calendar year, are: $6.00 student; $8.00 individual;$15.00 institutions/outside the USA. Payable by check to: "African-American Archaeology"

    Amount enclosed $_____________



    Address Line 1 _________________________________________________________________________

    Address Line 2 _________________________________________________________________________

    City, State/Prov., Zip/Postal Code, Country:______________________________________________________

    Daytime Telephone: (______)_____________________ E-mail: ___________________________________

    Mail to:
    African-American Archaeology
    c/o John P. McCarthy, RPA
    615 Fairglen Lane
    Annapolis, MD 21401

    Electronic version compiled by Thomas R. Wheaton, New South Associates, Inc.

    dividing bar

    2005 African Diaspora Archaeology Network
    Please send comments or questions to:
    Last updated: April 16, 2005
    Newsletter menu
    ADAN Search

  • About ADAN Web Resources Overview Research projects Newsletter Discussion groups Workshops and Forums