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The Life of William J. Brown of Providence, R.I.
William Brown; Joanne Pope Melish, ed.; Rosalind C. Wiggins, pref.

Not in stock or not yet published
Expected: June 2006


Revisiting New England

University of New Hampshire Press
2006 • 182 pp. 6 x 9"
African-American Studies / Biography

$19.95 Paperback, 978-1-58465-537-4




An exceptional firsthand account of the experiences of people of color in nineteenth-century Rhode Island

The son and grandson of slaves owned by abolitionist Moses Brown, William J. Brown was a free African American born in Providence in 1814. Brown published his captivating autobiography, The Life of William J. Brown of Providence, R.I., in 1883. His compelling and insightful story is a memorable portrait of life and society in nineteenth-century New England: his childhood, his unusually good educational opportunities, employment, contemporary race relations, the port's bustling seafaring life, temperance, religion, organized societies, and local and national politics. He wrote of prominent African American contemporaries, including Frederick Douglass and Henry Bibb, and of African American troops in the Civil War. This is an impressively rich text, remarkable for its time and place. Unlike official records and other types of primary sources--frequently written from the opaque, self-interested perspective of upper-middle-class white Americans--this extraordinary memoir provides an authentic window on black experiences in nineteenth-century New England.

Expertly framed by Rosalind C. Wiggins's engaging preface and a new scholarly introduction by historian Joanne Pope Melish, The Life of William J. Brown of Providence, R.I. will spellbind readers interested in African American and New England literature, history, and culture.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS



WILLIAM J. BROWN was educated in Providence, where he worked as a shoemaker and Baptist preacher, and was active in the temperance movement. Elderly, impoverished, and blind, he published his Life in 1883 as a means of supporting himself. JOANNE POPE MELISH is Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky and the author of Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860. ROSALIND C. WIGGINS was a retired Rhode Island teacher who specialized in African American history and biography. She died in 2005.






Thu, 7 Feb 2013 10:33:54 -0500