Blog, page 6

From Our Authors: New Book on Slavery and Abolition in New Jersey

NJSlaveryBookJames Gigantino, the author of our essay about Slavery and the Slave Trade, has published his new research about slavery and abolition in New Jersey in a book from the University of Pennsylvania Press, The Ragged Road to Abolition: Slavery and Freedom in New Jersey, 1775-1865.

Congratulations, Jim!

Here is the publisher’s description of the book:

Contrary to popular perception, slavery persisted in the North well into the nineteenth century. This was especially the case in New Jersey, the last northern state to pass an abolition statute, in 1804. Because of the nature of the law, which freed children born to enslaved mothers only after they had served their mother’s master for more than two decades, slavery continued in New Jersey through the Civil War. Passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 finally destroyed its last vestiges.

The Ragged Road to Abolition chronicles the experiences of slaves and free blacks, as well as abolitionists and slaveholders, during slavery’s slow northern death. Abolition in New Jersey during the American Revolution was a contested battle, in which constant economic devastation and fears of freed blacks overrunning the state government limited their ability to gain freedom. New Jersey’s gradual abolition law kept at least a quarter of the state’s black population in some degree of bondage until the 1830s. The sustained presence of slavery limited African American community formation and forced Jersey blacks to structure their households around multiple gradations of freedom while allowing New Jersey slaveholders to participate in the interstate slave trade until the 1850s. Slavery’s persistence dulled white understanding of the meaning of black freedom and helped whites to associate “black” with “slave,” enabling the further marginalization of New Jersey’s growing free black population.

By demonstrating how deeply slavery influenced the political, economic, and social life of blacks and whites in New Jersey, this illuminating study shatters the perceived easy dichotomies between North and South or free states and slave states at the onset of the Civil War.

From Our Editors: New Book Explores Delaware Valley Before William Penn

Just published by the University of Pennsylvania Press is Lenape Country: Delaware Valley Society Before William Penn, by Jean R. Soderlund, who also is an associate editor of The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia.  We hope you will join us in celebrating this important new book on October 22 at the Philadelphia History Museum.  Make sure to register in advance for a conversation with the author and an opportunity to view A Lost World, part of the Philadelphia: The Great Experiment documentary film series.

Here is the publisher’s description of Lenape Country:

Lenape CountryIn 1631, when the Dutch tried to develop plantation agriculture in the Delaware Valley, the Lenape Indians destroyed the colony of Swanendael and killed its residents. The Natives and Dutch quickly negotiated peace, avoiding an extended war through diplomacy and trade. The Lenapes preserved their political sovereignty for the next fifty years as Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, and English colonists settled the Delaware Valley. The European outposts did not approach the size and strength of those in Virginia, New England, and New Netherland. Even after thousands of Quakers arrived in West New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the late 1670s and ’80s, the region successfully avoided war for another seventy-five years.

Lenape Country is a sweeping narrative history of the multi­ethnic society of the Delaware Valley in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. After Swanendael, the Natives, Swedes, and Finns avoided war by focusing on trade and forging strategic alliances in such events as the Dutch conquest, the Mercurius affair, the Long Swede conspiracy, and English attempts to seize land. Drawing on a wide range of sources, author Jean R. Soderlund demonstrates that the hallmarks of Delaware Valley society—commitment to personal freedom, religious liberty, peaceful resolution of conflict, and opposition to hierarchical government—began in the Delaware Valley not with Quaker ideals or the leadership of William Penn but with the Lenape Indians, whose culture played a key role in shaping Delaware Valley society. The first comprehensive account of the Lenape Indians and their encounters with European settlers before Pennsylvania’s founding, Lenape Country places Native culture at the center of this part of North America.


“City of Brotherly Love” at the FringeArts Festival

The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia will play a small role in this year’s FringeArts Festival with publication of our “City of Brotherly Love” theme essay, by Chris Satullo, in a commemorative booklet for the production 100% Philadelphia. As described by FringeArts:

Join us at the 2014 Fringe Festival for an unforgettable experience that’s part-theater, part-data analysis — and 100 percent Philadelphia. Developed in collaboration with FringeArts, German artist collective Rimini Protokoll’s 100% Philadelphia will bring 100 carefully selected Philadelphia citizens (non-actors) onstage to represent the city’s population of 1.5 million and our unique demographic imprint: More than 40 cast members will be African-American, half will be women, approximately 20 will be children — and that’s just the beginning. At times funny, uplifting and strikingly dramatic, 100% Philadelphia is always enlightening, a mirror of ourselves that will forever change the way we see our friends, neighbors, and strangers on the street.

For more information about the production and to buy tickets, visit the event website at Fringe Arts.

Welcome to the Team

As The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia expands, so does our team of editors. We are pleased to welcome the following colleagues, whose work you will begin to see in the Encyclopedia over the next several months:

  • Donald D. Groff, a veteran journalist, is our new managing editor.
  • Tyler Hoffman, Professor of English at Rutgers-Camden, is an associate editor who will oversee topics related to literature and theater.
  • Jean Soderlund, Professor of History at Lehigh University, is associate editor for early American topics up to 1800.
  • Roger Turner, Associate Fellow at Dickinson College, is associate editor for topics in the areas of science, technology and medicine.

The expertise and talents of these individuals undoubtedly will enrich The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia in many ways as the project continues to grow. Welcome to the team!

New Support from The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia, Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust

We are pleased to announce new financial support for The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia project.  From The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia, the project has received a grant of $25,000. In addition, Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust has contributed $2,500.  These much-needed awards will help us to continue to expand the Encyclopedia’s content, especially in ways that serve the needs of the region’s students and teachers. We extend our thanks to these valued partners as we continue fund-raising efforts among individuals, corporations, and foundations.

Call for Contributors: Summer 2014

The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia seeks authors for its next phase of expansion. A wide range of topics is available, including subtopics related to communications, transportation, business and industry, the built environment, civil rights, literary works, holiday traditions, and key events in the region’s history. The scope of the project includes the city of Philadelphia and the surrounding region of southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and northern Delaware.

Prospective authors must have expertise in their chosen subjects demonstrated by previous publications and/or advanced training in historical research. Authors will have the option of volunteering or receiving modest stipends, and all submissions will be peer-reviewed. Deadlines will be set in consultation with authors; it is expected that most will range from end of summer to the end of 2014. To express interest, please send an email describing your qualifications and specifying topics of interest to the editor-in-chief, Charlene Mires, No attachments, please. Graduate students, please include the name and email address of an academic reference.

Guidelines for writers are available online:

(Readers on the Encyclopedia blog, click here to see the list of topics.)

  Continue reading “Call for Contributors: Summer 2014”

Support from Rutgers-Camden Digital Studies Center

We’re pleased to share the news of new support for The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia project from the Digital Studies Center at Rutgers-Camden. This grant will allow us to improve and expand our bibliographic survey by migrating it to Zotero, a platform that will make the citations more user-friendly and accessible to the public. Watch our Sources page for this transformation by the end of the summer.

From Our Authors: New Book Examines the Story of Intentional Integration in West Mount Airy

Perkiss-bookJust published by Cornell University Press is Making Good Neighbors: Civil Rights, Liberalism, and Integration in Postwar Philadelphia, by Abigail Perkiss.  In addition to teaching history at Kean University, Perkiss lives in West Mount Airy and is the author of our essay on Northwest Philadelphia.

Here is the publisher’s description of the book:

In the 1950s and 1960s, as the white residents, real estate agents, and municipal officials of many American cities fought to keep African Americans out of traditionally white neighborhoods, Philadelphia’s West Mount Airy became one of the first neighborhoods in the nation where residents came together around a community-wide mission toward intentional integration. As West Mount Airy experienced transition, homeowners fought economic and legal policies that encouraged white flight and threatened the quality of local schools, seeking to find an alternative to racial separation without knowing what they would create in its place. In Making Good Neighbors, Abigail Perkiss tells the remarkable story of West Mount Airy, drawing on archival research and her oral history interviews with residents to trace their efforts, which began in the years following World War II and continued through the turn of the century.

The organizing principles of neighborhood groups like the West Mount Airy Neighbors Association (WMAN) were fundamentally liberal and emphasized democracy, equality, and justice; the social, cultural, and economic values of these groups were also decidedly grounded in middle-class ideals and white-collar professionalism. As Perkiss shows, this liberal, middle-class framework would ultimately become contested by more militant black activists and within WMAN itself, as community leaders worked to adapt and respond to the changing racial landscape of the 1960s and 1970s. The West Mount Airy case stands apart from other experiments in integration because of the intentional,organized, and long-term commitment on the part of WMAN to biracial integration and, in time, multiracial and multiethnic diversity. The efforts of residents in the 1950s and 1960s helped to define the neighborhood as it exists today.

Connecting the Past with the Present, Building Community, Creating a Legacy