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Black Portsmouth
Three Centuries of African-American Heritage
Mark J. Sammons, Valerie Cunningham

Revisiting New England

New Hampshire
2004 • 280 pp. 56 illus. 7 x 10"
African-American Studies / New England History / Portsmouth

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-58465-289-2

"The book's creation stands as testament to the lives and contributions of blacks to their community, and to the collaboration possible between people of different races."

A thought-provoking look at New England’s Black heritage

Few people think of a rich Black heritage when they think of New England. In the pioneering book Black Portsmouth, Mark J. Sammons and Valerie Cunningham celebrate it, guiding the reader through more than three centuries of New England and Portsmouth social, political, economic, and cultural history as well as scores of personal and site-specific stories. Here, we meet such Africans as the "likely negro boys and girls from Gambia," who debarked at Portsmouth from a slave ship in 1758, and Prince Whipple, who fought in the American Revolution. We learn about their descendants, including the performer Richard Potter and John Tate of the People’s Baptist Church, who overcame the tragedies and challenges of their ancestors’ enslavement and subsequent marginalization to build communities and families, found institutions, and contribute to their city, region, state, and nation in many capacities. Individual entries speak to broader issues—the anti-slavery movement, American religion, and foodways, for example. We also learn about the extant historical sites important to Black Portsmouth—including the surprise revelation of an African burial ground in October 2003—as well as the extraordinary efforts being made to preserve remnants of the city’s early Black heritage.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

"Black Portsmouth provides information about a vastly understudied population whose history is an essential part of, and provides essential perspective on, the history of Portsmouth. In the breadth of its coverage, it should lead to more specific and detailed work that fleshes out the histories of both the city and its people."Historical New Hampshire

"Here, we have a full-bodied cultural history of blacks in Portsmouth . . . I highly recommend it as both a good read and a primary text for all New England history and historians alike."Portland (ME) Library Newsletter

"This book chronicles the lives of black individuals; from the 17th-and 18th-Century slaves to the 19th- and 20th-Century freemen, they are all contributors to the development of this area. It includes the lives of dock workers, sailors, farm hands, craftsmen and those who built churches, social clubs, mutual aid societies and raised families. It ends with a chapter on current day Portsmouth." Northern New Hampshire Magazine

“Rooted in the lives of individuals, Black Portsmouth: Three Centuries of African American Heritage, is a lively story uncovering the buried history of black life in Portsmouth from 1648 until the present. The reader will meet coopers, tailors, mariners, printers, laundresses, dock workers, teachers, preachers and many more whose skills built a black community within the wider city of Portsmouth. Charles Lenox Redmond, Williams Wells Brown, Frederick Douglass are amount the nationally famous visitors remembered in the city. Other names known mostly in Portsmouth include Fowle, Whipple, Bruce and Spring. All are viewed against the background of the larger national history comprehensively recounted by the authors.”Kenneth A. Heidelberg, Site Manager, Boston African American National Historic Site

MARK J. SAMMONS is the Executive Director of Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion in Portsmouth, and has served as President and Executive Director of the Newburyport Maritime Society, Director of Research at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, and Coordinator of Public Buildings at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

VALERIE CUNNINGHAM, award-winning historic preservationist and Portsmouth native, has spent more than thirty years researching and writing about northern New England’s Black history. A community activist with seemingly boundless energy, she is the founder of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, Inc. and directs the African American Resource Center.

Tue, 15 May 2018 12:58:51 -0500