Scrapbook of an African American Civil War Veteran and His Family, Highlighting the Lives and Achievements of African Americans. AFRICAN AMERICANS.
Scrapbook of an African American Civil War Veteran and His Family, Highlighting the Lives and Achievements of African Americans

Scrapbook of an African American Civil War Veteran and His Family, Highlighting the Lives and Achievements of African Americans

"Mark Twain Scrap Book," published by Slote, Woodman & Co., 10.75 x 8.25 inches, decorative blind-stamped boards with lettering in silver. Both boards detached, old tape on spine, contents otherwise very good. . Thirty leaves used, with newspaper clippings and ephemera affixed to both sides of each leaf. Some additional clippings laid in. "Charles V. Smith, his book" written in pencil on the front pastedown. Smith was born in Pennsylvania in 1843, enlisted in the Union Navy in 1863, and served on the battleships Saratoga and North Carolina. Following the war he lived in Stroudsburg, PA. The early pages of the scrapbook contain newspaper clippings dating from the 1870s-1890s, including the obituaries of a former slave (d. 1879) and the United States Minister to Liberia (d. 1882); an account of the murder of a "colored Cuban" in Philadelphia in 1878; the full text of a lengthy commencement address on the state of education in the South (1877); and an article from 1900 titled "Colored American Soldiers in Japan Welcomed with the Greatest Admiration." Of particular note is an article from 1897 on Charles Smith's own brother, who "disappeared in a strange manner in 1883 and since that year not a trace of him has been found." There are some additional early items on later pages, but on the ninth page we find Charles V. Smith's own obituary, which describes him as "a respected colored resident" and "a hard-working man all his life" who had "a fine little home, well and neatly kept." He was survived by his wife and two daughters, and we presume it was one of the daughters who continued the scrapbook--which contains similar types of materials dating from the 1930s-50s. There are dozens of obituaries for both ordinary and nationally known African Americans (and some non-African Americans) and many news clippings documenting the accomplishments of African Americans in politics, war, and the arts (e.g. "First Lady Lauds Noted Singer" [Marian Anderson, 1939]; "Negro Air Unit Total 3,000 Combat Sorties" [1944]). A fascinating example of what Ellen Gruber Garvey has described as alternative histories, that "were meant to fill in gaps in mainstream accounts and assert African American importance in the nation's history" (Writing with Scissors, p. 131).

Item #20874

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