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The African American Odyssey at the Library of Congress

Created by the Library of Congress, this website is a digital version of the exhibition of the same name, which showcased the library’s vast African American collections. Held at the Library of Congress from February 5 – May 2, 1998, the exhibition included over 240 items and was the largest black history exhibit presented by the Library at that time. Divided into nine sections from the beginnings of the Atlantic slave trade through the Civil Rights era of the twentieth century, this online exhibit allows visitors to explore some of the rich primary source materials that were on display and read the accompanying narrative.

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is a six-part mini-series produced by Harvard University scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. It examines the 400-year history of African Americans, from the origins of slavery in Africa to President Obama’s election.

The American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society

The American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society was the result of a schism in the American Anti-Slavery Society (AAS) between William Lloyd Garrison and Lewis and Arthur Tappan. The Tappan brothers felt that abolitionists should create their own political party to advance their struggle by voting. They also believed that women should not be involved in politics. Garrison disagreed with both viewpoints. He believed that women played an important part in the struggle to end slavery. These issues came to a head in 1839 at the AAS Convention in New York, causing the society to split in 1840 and form the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.

The Amos Dresser Incident

While selling bibles in Nashville, Tennessee, Amos Dresser was accused of selling anti-slavery literature to enslaved and free black people. A workman at a carriage repair shop discovered Dresser’s anti-slavery periodicals while servicing his carriage. Constable John Braughton brought him before an impromptu Committee of Vigilance who sentenced him to twenty public lashes and ordered him to leave the city within twenty-four hours.

The Christian Recorder

The Christian Recorder is the longest running African American periodical in US history. First published in 1848, the Christian Recorder still remains the official organ of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Though primarily focused on religious issues, the paper frequently condemned slavery and followed the activities of the abolitionist movement. It highlighted other secular issues like education, voting rights and racism. After the Civil War, the Recorder continued to raise awareness of issues facing the African American community.

The Church in the Southern Black Community

This compilation of printed texts from the libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill traces how southern African Americans experienced and transformed Protestant Christianity into the central institution of community life. The website focuses, through narratives and observations by other African American authors, on how the black community adapted evangelical Christianity, making it a metaphor for freedom, community, and personal survival. Comprised mostly of books, slave narratives, some pamphlets and journal articles, the collection also includes early twentieth century assessments of black scholars on the Church's role in American history and society.

The Colored American

Phillip A. Bell began publishing the Colored American as the Weekly Advocate but changed its name after two months. Its new name would serve as a reminder, to blacks and whites alike, that blacks were just as American as their white counterparts. The Colored American focused on issues affecting the black community, including slavery, abolition, education, politics and faith.

The Crosswhite Family

Adam Crosswhite was 45 when he discovered that his master planned to sell his family apart. Adam, Mary and their children fled Kentucky, making their way through Indiana and into Marshall, Michigan. They lived in peace until late 1846 when Francis Troutman (grandson of Adam’s former owner) appeared in Marshall to capture the family. News spread rapidly throughout Marshall, and a crowd of between 50 and 250 white and black residents gathered around the Crosswhite home. After escaping with the help of Charles Gorham, the family made a new life in Chatham, Ontario.

The Dawn Settlement

Runaway slave and Methodist preacher Josiah Henson helped establish the free black community of Dawn and its manual labor school, the British American Institute, near Dresden, Ontario in 1842, making it one of the earliest fugitive slave settlements in Canada. Dawn’s leaders searched for ways to stabilize the town without relying on white benefactors. Josiah Henson, Hiram Wilson and James Caning Fuller created the British-American Institute, which provided the community with jobs and its citizens with income. The school suffered a series of controversies but by the time of its closing, Dawn had become a self-sustaining settlement.

The Denison Family

In 1807, the Denison family protested their enslavement in the Michigan Territory Supreme Court. Peter and Hannah Denison and their four children were property of William Tucker. In 1787, the Northwest Ordinance stipulated that slavery would be outlawed in the lands north of the Ohio River. In 1796, Tucker’s widow promised to free Peter and Hannah in one year but claimed that their children would remain her property because they were born into slavery. The Denisons took widow Tucker to court but lost their case. Several days later, the Denison children fled to Canada. Elizabeth Denison, known as Lisette, returned to Michigan in 1820 and became a property owner in Pontiac.


© 2012 Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. All rights reserved. 315 East Warren Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201 | (313) 494-5800 |

This program was funded by the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural Program.