Show Notes – Black Gotham with Carla Peterson

Following are some items that were mentioned during the 7 February 2013 Fieldstone Common interview with Prof. Carla L. Peterson, author of Black Gotham:A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City.

The podcast of the interview is now available.


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Prof. Carla L. Peterson is professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park.You can learn more about her and her book at her website and a special website called the Black Gotham Archive set up to provide more details about information from the book.  She hopes that others will also contribute stories and photos of New York City African American history as well which can be uploaded directly to the site.

The book Black Gotham:A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City, published by Yale University Press, is available for purchase from major books sellers online and off such as Amazon.com.

Carla Peterson is also the author of “Doers of the Word”: African-American Women Speakers and Writers in the North, 1830-1880.

Carla did much of her research for Black Gotham at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture which is part of the New York Public Library. It is open Tuesday through Saturday each week.

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church was one of the center of the Black community in 19th century New York City.

One of the extraordinary in this circle of successful African American men was James McCune Smith, a physician, pharmacist and abolitionist.

Yale University Press, the publisher of Black Gotham:A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City, donated a copy of the book which was given as “door prize” during the live show to a listener in Delaware.  A big thank you to Yale University Press for  their generosity!

To see the Heirloom Registry entry — including photos — for the radio, visit www.heirloomregistry.com and enter registration number: SNTS-256-996-3497-2012.

Fieldstone Common’s sponsor is Houstory, makers of the Home History Book and the Heirloom Registry. Fieldstone Common listeners can take 15 % off their Heirloom Registry order by visiting the Heirloom Registry at www.heirloomregistry.com, and entering FIELDSTONE – in all caps – at checkout.

Fieldstone Common greatly appreciates the support of Houstory as a sponsor. Show your support for Fieldstone Common by visiting our sponsor’s site. 

** Read “New Service Safeguards Heirlooms’ Lore” in Antique Trader Magazine featuring Fieldstone Common sponsor The Heirloom Registry by Houstory. **

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Copyright 2012-2013 Marian Pierre-Louis

Black Gotham with Carla L. Peterson

This week on Fieldstone Common, Marian Pierre-Louis interviews Carla L. Peterson, author of Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City.

Part detective tale, part social and cultural narrative, Black Gotham is Carla Peterson’s riveting account of her quest to reconstruct the lives of her nineteenth-century ancestors. As she shares their stories and those of their friends, neighbors, and business associates, she illuminates the greater history of African-American elites in New York City.

Black Gotham with Carla L. Peterson on Fieldstone Common

Carla L. Peterson

Black Gotham challenges many of the accepted “truths” about African-American history, including the assumption that the phrase “nineteenth-century black Americans” means enslaved people, that “New York state before the Civil War” refers to a place of freedom, and that a black elite did not exist until the twentieth century. Beginning her story in the 1820s, Peterson focuses on the pupils of the Mulberry Street School, the graduates of which went on to become eminent African-American leaders. She traces their political activities as well as their many achievements in trade, business, and the professions against the backdrop of the expansion of scientific racism, the trauma of the Civil War draft riots, and the rise of Jim Crow.

Told in a vivid, fast-paced style, Black Gotham is an important account of the rarely acknowledged achievements of nineteenth-century African Americans and brings to the forefront a vital yet forgotten part of American history and culture.

Carla L. Peterson is professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is the author of “Doers of the Word”: African-American Women Speakers and Writers in the North, 1830–1880.

Copyright 2012-2013 Marian Pierre-Louis