Friday, February 17, 2012

One of my favorite months: Black History Month!

February! It's a miserable cold month here in Chicago, but it's one of my favorite times to write this here blog, because it's ... Black History Month! We love talking about this here at O'Gara and Wilson. After all, our neighborhood of Hyde Park is in fact the cradle of Barack Obama's career, and Barack Obama did indeed make history with his election, although opinions are divided in the store about who supports his candidacy. On a more neutral political note, we are within walking distance of the DuSable Museum of African-American History. And besides, given that we sell antiquarian books, we are more qualified to discuss history than current affars.

History such as, for example, this week's Favorite:

We have a number of issues of the "Negro History Bulletin" from 1940-1941; they have all been bound into a simple black volume, which has preserved the magazines in excellent shape. This periodical later became the "Black History Bulletin", whose website describes it as:

... dedicated to enhancing teaching and learning in the areas of history. Its aim is to publish, generate, and disseminate peer-reviewed information about African Americans in U.S. history, the African Diaspora generally, and the peoples of Africa. Its purpose is to inform the knowledge base for the professional praxis of secondary educators through articles that are grounded in theory, yet supported by practice.

Indeed, the "Black History Bulletin" is currently distributed by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, which started Black History Month. So we have come full circle! But anyway, these old issues of the "Negro History Bulletin" are very interesting. We are charging $40.00 for nine of them bound together, and they give very interesting insights on goals of teaching Black History to children in the 1940s. Including, for example, these drawings intended for children to color in:


Worth analyzing, to be sure.

This week's Affordable and Interesting item is from rather before 1940:

Like many older books, the title as written on the spine is different from the title on the cover:

We're selling this 1917 book for $12.50, and although it is mainly about general history of World War I, within the book it tells us that it is in particular "a thrilling account of the important part taken by the Negro in the tragic defeat of Germany." Recall that in our last blog entry, we also featured a book celebrating the history of Black soldiers. I have mixed feelings about wars -- well, actually, I just plain don't like wars. But it's important for us to acknowledge everyone's contributions to history!

Which is also what this week's Collector's Item, an even older book, aims to do!

We are asking $400.00 for this book because it is an original copy from 1929, in beautiful condition, and it's also the author's personal copy. He put his ownership signature in front:

Lorenzo D. Turner was an honored African-American linguist and literary scholar. He died in 1972, but first he did a lot to establish the field of African-American studies (somewhat like St. Clair Drake, who I just wrote about a few weeks ago). He also helped train a lot of Peace Corps Volunteers who were heading to Africa, which endears him to me because he doubtless influenced my own trip to Africa a few years ago. This was his first published book, and apparently it is still referenced by people who study the endlessly interesting field of pre-slavery abolitionist efforts today! Did you know that 1830s abolitionists sometimes used "woman-to-woman" appeals from slave women to free white women? As a feminist, I find this quite awesome.

So go forth and study for Black History Month, gentle readers. Perhaps drop by the DuSable Museum, and then come visit us! We assure you, we'll always keep the store warm in the face of the elements outside.

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