tv Book TV CSPAN April 16, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
african-american new yorkers some of which are her descendents prior to the civil war as occupants afforded them up request that is under the constant threat of racial violence. this is about one hour and 10 minutes. >> i want to start out my talk with two quotes. they are both from the prologue of my book and i will give a little explanation for them, but they introduce why i decided to write the book. so, the first quote is in my own prose from the prologue. we still hold certain truths about african-americans to be self-evident, that the phrase 19th century black americans refers to enslave people, that new york state before the civil war denotes a place of freedom, that lacks in new york city designate harlem, that the black community posits a classless and
beloved. the more fine point she made, the more detail should provide it, the more beloved like it. so she anticipated the questions by giving blood and scratched her grandmother told her in the heart beat. denver spoke, beloved listened in the two did the best they could to create what really happened, how it really was a mossad paperfolding view because she alone had the mind for it in the time afterward to shape it. so the second quote points to one of my great concerns in writing about come to the idea to recover my family's past, my great, great grandparents and so forth and realizing they were their memories and not my memories. so how could i tell the story of memories that were not my own in that had just come down to be
inscribes? and how could they then give blood in a heartbeat to these scraps? so that was my second much more personal motivation for writing the book. it indeed a heard time trying to give blood in a heartbeat to the scraps i found because i started with almost nothing with really wonderful story. the full story -- partly full story and basically i was told that i had a great grandfather, that he was born in haiti, but at the time of the haitian revolution he left haiti, with two paris, became a guy came to new york and anglicized his name to phillipa custis weight. the story was half true. there was no haiti in the background, no trips to paris. he was born actually in new
jersey in hoboken and moved very quickly to new york city and did become a pharmacist. so i was faced with a real problem there. and as i started my research to find family stories, what i discovered was third actually been a real will to commemorate among 19th century black new yorkers that forgetting was not their way of life. they started first of all and commemorations, for example, of important events like the abolition of the slave trade, january 1, 18 awaked and commemorated every year after on the same day in ceremonies, and parades. they commemorated the abolition of slavery in the state of new york, which was july 4, 1827. they had newspapers the colored american is freedom turn wrote about themselves and desire to
commemorate. they try to erect statues, for example, heavy highland garnet point might mention a little later really not essential to this talk, but he has been a very important but later. they wanted to make a memorial in his honor. he managed to create but by and large did not manage to preserve. so the problem of preservation became a tremendous fun. when you aren't under source community, when you don't have funds and resources, how do you preserve? so much got lost by the wayside. of course it just seems like if at all if if you are familiar with is the negro burial ground. got destroyed in 1875 because of real estate speculation. what else in your? to the cemetery was taken over
to lay ground for the new life to be sold, et cetera, et cetera. and then there was the problem of the archives, the earliest new york archive established by john pain tired, a very well known white elite man in 1804 the new york historical society. a black new yorkers had to wait until the 19 twentieths for arturo schomburg to establish the schomburg center. and yet basically the archives were often my only resource, the only place i had to go to since my family had given me so little in the story. so what i do in the book and i do want to point this out is the book unfolds on two levels. on one it is the story of my search, however to the archives
looking for material, finding that finding how to put them together and on the second level of course it is the story itself. so i started out in schomburg can really lucky to find very early on to scrapbook pages in an archival collection in and then i found the obituary pasted on the scrapbook of my great-grandfather and then my great, great grandfather. so this is the first scrapbook page. it is my great-grandfather and of course the name is phillipa custis weight, so i recognized him immediately. to give you a really quick thumbnail sketch, was born in 1823, died in 1891. he was from a fairly poor family. his father died when he was young. he went to one of the public schools. they called them a colored school. he afterwards went to train
james mchugh smith one of our early doctors and pharmacies and was an apprentice in smith's pharmacy for two years. that then enabled him to enter the college of pharmacy at the city of new york and he got a degree in 1844, black man from the college of pharmacy. then he established a drug store in downtown in new york on the corner but was frankfurt and gold street and partis pace university is there now. he made quite a bit of money through his drug story. the money he had taken effect to two calls. what an education of black children and the other his church. when he moved to brooklyn in 1870, he settled there and in 1883 southwell, then mayor of brooklyn appointed him to the
brooklyn board of education. yet the first black seat on the brooklyn board of education. so that was my great-grandfather. this is his father-in-law, my great, great grandfather. you can check your family tree. philip white and mrs. elizabeth's father. he was the one -- no, his parents were haitian. he was born in new york in 1813, died in the early 1880s, went to a school that i will come back and talk about later, did a variety of odd jobs, and married my great, great grandmother who died very young. i know nothing about her. in his second marriage she married into the ray family. they were prominent family and cornelius rather was also a doctor and had a pharmacy and drugs were. so he was brought into the drugstore is a pharmacist. he had no background when my
great-grandfather did no training, but he could become a pharmacist. he too was very devoted to saint phillips. the other treasure trove that i found at the schomburg, where the harry alper williamson papers and again if you look down on the family tree, you will see him there. and i won't go into any detail and maybe that doesn't show up too well, but in the -- and doing the family research, the woman on the right here is mary joseph lyons and she is the sister of my great, great grandmother, rebecca marshall. and she married this man. and i bring them up because i'm not going to talk about them much in this type tonight. i bring them up because alberto lyons said to his daughter commemorates a finishes on the
family tree, did he wanted to write this story of the history of his generation, but he never got further than the title. and the title he picked was the gentleman in black. so he said to his daughter, i am not going to be able to do it. i want you to do it. so in the same collection of papers, we have a typed manuscript about 85 pages, pretty much in draft form, organizationally at least in draft form. in what bridges said was that from the vast output of fugitive scraps, she was going to try and write her memoirs and if she titled it memories of yesterday, all of which i saw an part of which i was an autobiography. so she wrote the 85 pages, but didn't get it published. so i consider my book, "black gotham," to be the final event, the final publication of this idea of writing the history of the gentleman in black, which
goes well back into the 19th century and i just hope they're looking down, listening, watching, reading that they approve of what i did. but i want to say is that the word really stuck with me. the scrapbook pages i found in the rich a same that she wrote her memoir from the vast output of fugitive scraps. so i see my book very much as a scrap book. i choose an event or a story. i tell it. my chronology -- as a chronological story, but barakat at which i can't possibly fill in and they don't try to. so i think of my book is a scrapbook. i also talk about it as a partial history, meaning that train ticket and entire history or an objective history. my history is partial. is partial because it's about my family and because it's only a
part of black new york history and because i am partial to it. it's also a chronological history, but very much a cyclical one because what it does is traces the ups and downs of black new yorkers. every time they feel they've made progress, something happens to slap them in the face and bring them down again. lastly though, i also think as a spatial history and that's why titled the book "black gotham," to show the way in which -- the degree to which so much of their life was formed by where they lived, the city of gotham in the neighborhoods in it. so i'm going to name the five spaces. i think of it as concentric circles and i'm going to name the five now and then going to come back and talk about a couple of them. if i try to do the whole thing, we'd eat here all night. so the first one then is what
alexander cromwell, one of the members of the black elite called the white circle of the leading citizens of new york and definity, basically the black elite. the second is the that community and ensure that is a term you'll hear a lot, and this, that and the other. so just to give you a sense of some numbers for those of you who like numbers. in 1840, the number of black inhabitants was about 16,400 out of 313,000 then it declines to about 12,500 added 814,000 in 1860. so just some kind of ballpark numbers. the third, which i'm going to come back as the city itself, gotham, where they lived in a racially mixed neighborhood and had a variety of contact with whites and blacks, so that is
something i will come back to. the contacts they had the lax in other cities like philadelphia, boston, so forth and last weekend one of my audiences, there is a man from philly and we can have a real go to because the differences in sensibility in in sensibility and culture 19th century black philadelphia bus in is very different from new york and we can talk about that dna if you want to. and finally am not the least important is the sense of being a citizen of the world, that they are cosmopolitan, that they belonged to the entire world, that they were part of the entire world. though it may start by a little bit about the elite in this idea of the white circle of the leading citizens of new york and definity. the first thing i want to point out is the way in which education was really absolutely foundational to this elite.
if nothing else, i could say this is a book about education, education. so what you hear now is not new at all. turn on new york one in your hearing about the school system, et cetera, it under, same issues at hand. this is the most famous school of the early 19th century. it's an african free school called the mulberry street school and that is where my great, great grandfather went to school and he went to school with a bunch of young men who turned out to be leaders, real leaders of the black community, both in new york and beyond. and i'll just name the ones and i'm going to come and talk about later. there is george downing, charles simmons and his brother patrick and james smith. the values they were very much the values of the little education, what today we would
call the solid foundation of a liberal arts education. in addition to that they were development are education and other areas. character was one. respect ability another. the acquisition of wealth. basically work hard, become very skilled in your traitor in your profession and make money in the process. then, give money back to the community. and finally this idea of cosmopolitanism remotes and come every wordsworth and have a sense of the entire world. so what i think is important to think of here is the way in which what we say black american or african american, you know, and image immediately comes to mind and i want to kind of topic. i want to point out the dynamic process of making identity in this. people had been kidnapped and brought enslaved to the new world, to the united states, to
america, to new york and they didn't become black americans are african-americans overnight, but with process of struggle and are trying to forge identity. and that's a schooling was all about. so to pass on that circle number one. to pass on circle number two is the black community is alpha called the institutions, literary society, political society and so forth. i'm not going to spend much time talking about these. i will say they are mainly male organization. women are not members. they're definitely not officers. they are invited as companions to a top like now, but they would never be a member of the greenwich village society for historic preservation, but they could accompany their spouse to it. and that was an incredible research problem for me, which i could talk about later.
the other thing -- so that basically is the black community and i'm going to pass on. the education schools were one and churches the other in my family's church was saint philip's episcopal church down here in lower manhattan and is now up in harlem. so the third circle is that of gotham and that is framed going to spend the rest of my time talking and i have a section in my book called distance and proximity because what i want to point out is no matter how distant black new yorkers were either poor, nativeborn, irish immigrants, german immigrants or even wealthier whites, there was still proximity because they live downtown in racially mixed neighborhood in ward five and word six in ward eight.
they were always close to others, people who are not like them. not necessarily in the same house at the same tenement, but maybe tenements on the street or at lease block to block. and what does lead to were some really surprising -- jimmy surprising into them also, can predict contacts with weight. i'm just going to mention a couple of things that i talk about them make their point. the first is all new yorkers with the same pigs running around, eating garbage and knocking people over infighting between the leg. the same disease like smallpox, cholera, yellow fever unless you're wealthy could escape town. but the other thing, and may be
important is this idea of what i call wednesday, that there is no real set protocol for race relations. you would think in the 1840s, 50s, 60s with the city in which racial discrimination hostility is so intent at every boundary would be tightly drawn and you would really know what to do. and yet they encountered what i call wednesday and i get this from the rich. my new toy who in her memoir says writing for colored folks plant on the width of perspective safe drivers. and she goes on to say how at times she was free to get on the rare road car, no problem in other times she was like no, you have to wait for the colored car. that would be one example. another would be going to crystal palace, which was the great exhibit put on in the
1850s model after london's crystal palace in great exhibit hall and a comic in newspapers that black new yorkers have been taxing the horoscope as to whether or colored people be admitted. one day you could be admitted, the other not. there were high cultural events and in a way that blackley hoped that class would trump race, that if they had education, high culture that they would be free to go and that was true a lot of times they went to opera, plays, bookstores, confused art gallery. but in one instance they were forbidden to enter. this is when one of their own, an opera singer named elizabeth taylor greenfield came up from philadelphia, black singer to
sing in which the whole hall she was to sing did not have a segregated section. and so the black elite were turned away and told that they couldn't enter. so they raised a brouhaha and were finally allowed to get in. so that is to show the confusion in new york for the black elite and fraud black new yorkers. so for the remainder in may next half of the talk, i'm going to focus on this area, which is something dean asked me to do and i'm going to be focusing specifically on three sides. one is broadway. another is lawrence street, which is parallel to thompson street north of houston in the third is -- that they lawrence street school. in the third is the african theater which was located on mercer street. and i want to show two things. one the way in which distance and proximity still obtained in
this area and the other is i think i see away what i'm talking about what happens at certain places to point out some of the moral values underlying the happenings. so what happens i'll talk a little bit about the weight of the first of the way to get started downtown gradually starts to those of the very things they were creating, commercialization and the city. so they came up to the village, to st. johns park and broadway and at a certain point of course they move north of bleecker street and so there was that phrase, you know, above leaker street and that's where the upper 10 do as call lived and they were also in the bronx street lafayette place area. so i want to read now a little
passage from my book in which i talk about george foster and the way in which he captures broadway in that. so going all the way up rodway, starting a little below houston going to. so talk about the way in which the bond street lafayette area is very nice and quiet. but was not quite was broadway. an avenue marked by contrast, george foster captures flavor in its most recent book, new york. it was the contrast of morning and afternoon. at daybreak, broadway was hushed and solitary. if you work out at a news and sells watching the week and find fiercely downward to have the first cut is the new garbage. later in the day with three massive people with search through the street. a human river, growing and
forming towards the street. then there is the contrast of building among some of the truly fine structures, other had sprung up haphazardly. a brick schoolhouse here come a penitentiary or town mayor. finally what caught your eye depended on where you lived, straightahead, a plateglass window stuffed with mildew muslims. above an interminable line of crooked goalposts armed with glass bottles and held together by way of close lines. what foster failed to mention was the contrast between day and night because come nightfall the area are on houston street would be overrun with people. customers in search of good food comfort could drink, good entertainment and yes, good sex. the area had become a center of the sex trade. are everywhere, separate rooms or restaurants, saloons and that
lined the street with a handed out cards. walt whitman was certain that in no other place could show us also impotently. so that is broadway. then, i want to move on to my second place, which is the lawrence street school for colored children located a few blocks north of houston. and unfortunately i do not have an image of it. and this is where my great-grandfather see, my great, great grandfather goes to the mulberry street school in my great, great grandfather goes to the lawrence street school. and i know a lot about my great-grandfather because of the very lengthy eulogy that this man, george downing, wrote and published in the brooklyn citizen of the time of my great-grandfather's death. so what he says is my
great-grandfather named thomas white, and that he was a white man from northern england. he says absolutely nothing about philip's mother, but from looking at philips death certificate, and says she comes from jamaica. her name is elizabeth steele. she was undoubtedly black. because of her my great-grandfather is labeled colored form a lot though. i don't know where they met or whether she was slave or free. i don't know how they ended up in the united states. but thomas died in 1835 minutes into elizabeth steele white to give her children and education. and so philip goes to the lawrence street school and in one of these other serendipitous moments of research, i was at
the new york historical society and look into the public's school records. so 90 volumes of handwriting and i come across this note that says that the public school society twice paid my great-grandfather and january 25 and on april 28, 1840, $3 for making fires in africa public school number two over a period of three months. so the building was cold and he was paid to keep the building war by making fires. i also found out on june 111841 the public school society paid elizabeth white $15 for cleaning and whitewashing primary school number seven. so to see and what hard times they were and they really had to scramble. so, i'm, philip went to the school and the boys principle was charles reese and then he
was the one who had gone to school with my great-grandfather at the mulberry street school in the 1820s. so what i think is so significant here is that the mulberry street go away teachers had taught these young black men, peterkin ya, george downey, et cetera, et cetera and at the lawrence street school, black teachers are teaching black students. the fact is mentorship was so incredibly portend for the elite. ..
>> he talked about how to study, developed a love for study tar study's sake. for those alert and inspiring, he had interest. satisfaction and wonder, whoever could be trained to enjoy what he enjoyed in the way it pleased him had measureless content as complete as exceptional, so i don't know whether you want to have him as your teacher, but that's what he was. so phillip was, according to george downing, a very good student, worked very hard, and did very well was at the
school. he needed to learn a trade, so his mother, elizabeth with the help of george, placed him first with patrick reason, so patrick is charles' older brother, i think, and he had become an engraver. he had worked, did apprentice with an engraver from britain, steven i think, and was a well-known engraver, and he took phillip into his shop as an apprentice. it didn't work out. downing says a three months probation satisfied parent and master that the apprentice had not the slightest aptitude for the work. [laughter] then phillip came forward with his own idea and pronounced he wanted to be a pharmacist. that's when he was sent to apprentice with james mcewen smith many his pharmacy on west broad way, and then because it was a two year apprenticeship,
he went to the college of pharmacy, and you know the rest of the story. what i want to point out, not only that these men mentored phillip, but also that they were businessmen in their own right, and i want to emphasize the degree to which entrepreneurship was so important in the black community. as hard work to show you were working hard, the satisfaction of doing really well of becoming really skilled in your trade or in your profession, and timely, as i said, making money in order to buy property, become a property owner, be able to vote because there was $250 minimum to vote, and in order to give back to the community, so george downing had a store on broadway right, i think it's north of bleaker, yeah, right above
police police bleaker, and he placed ads about pickled oysters and boned turkey and was appeals to both black and white customers. president -- patrick's engravings were on bond street and patronized by the families on bond street, the white elite with last names like ward, low, ect., so these men were doing very well. wealth was not the only important thing for the black elite as i said before. one was respected, another was respectability. you had to behave in respectable ways, and as well as character, so character is the formation, the moral formation; right? of the self- and outward
manifestation, if you work hard, go to church, if you treat your family well, and so forth, then it would automatically show on the outside in proper behavior, proper forms of dress, and so forth. respectability was as important, probably more important than wealth in acquiring in becoming part of the black elite. to give you a sense of -- oh, let me see, wanted to show you -- that's my great grandfather phillip white. he's the image of respectability, okay? he has a drugstore, makes money, promotes black education, he's the pillar of st. peter's church, he is mr. respectability himself. i now want to go on to the disrespectful because we get a lot about respectability by
looking at disrespectability, so here he is. you can turn to my family tree. this is my great great grandparents, joseph marshall. this is elizabeth's brother. he's my great, great, great grand uncle -- yeah, yeah. he's james hulit, and the only way to give you a flavor of what he's like is to read the passage from my book. i'll do a little reading now. the details of his career are fascinating, but incomplete. he was a member of the african grow theater formed by william brown in 1821. this is a location on merser street. this is my third place. i gave you broadway, launch street, and this is merser street. the african growth theater formed by william brown in 1821,
it was simply a tea garden where black new yorkers gathered for musical events and social activities. it played in different rented downtown locations until brown opened his own space in 1822. from then until the early 1830s, he performed with brown's company and also in many other venues close to home at the military garden in brooklyn, somewhat further in philadelphia, and in virginia, and even across the seas in london and south america. he aspired to be a pure shakespearean actor. he played the lead role in richard the iii and played solo routines. much like budding actors of the day, he imitated famous actors from the time.
other roles were more subversive, however. indirectly hinting at the subordination and resistance of black americans. the ballet, the rebel leader or the insurrection of the karabs, the lyrics of national scottish ballads. they flocked to performances at the african grove theater. it might not have been the acting or the politics the family found so offensive. they might well -- because of that, they drunk to matters of the family. there's a note in the harry harper william's paper saying he was a play actor in his day, and was drummed out of the family. it's not necessarily his acting or his politics that the family found offensive. they might well have enjoyed
watching him in his roles, but racism made theater going a dangerous activity. they were hostile to brown's enterprise and complained about noise from the tea garden, objected to the stages of the most popular play of the day and resented brown's resentment of white customers. the police raided the needer during a january performance and arrested the actors. a group of route whites followed suit in august storming the theater and causing a riot. he seems to escape harm, although brown was severely beaten. it's also true that he could single handedly stir up plenty of bad publicity that made his family cringe. first, there were uncomp reports maybe true or not that talked
about the child like primitive black. simon snipes insisted when he sang, he translated the lyrics to black dialects reciting lines like the heart that never loved for example. british actor, charles matthews who be friended him while touring the united states, also satirized him in public. returning to london, matthew's created a show based on his american trip mocking this string and lewd kris alterations to hamlet. he responded by publishing a rebuttal in a local newspaper defending his acting abilities as well as the right of blacks to perform shakespeare. the letter also opened him up to more bad publicity.
then there were his repeated problems with the law. in some cases, he was a victim or mere bystander. when he decided to open a shop, a dry cliners in 18 -- dry cleaners in 1823 to make ends meet, he was beat up. in 1825, he took a physician as a steward aboard a ship but had to testify in court after a passenger accused him of abusing the only other passenger on board. he turned perpetrator. in 1835, he signed up as a ship stewart. he was arrested and convicted of stealing various articles from the ship including wine and porter and served a six month sentence. in 1837, he was accused of seducing and abandoning a white woman and sentenced to one month
of hard labor. later that same year, he was caught stealing a watch from the house of a man who had just died and was returned to prison. despite his pleas, gentlemen, don't put me in the newspapers, it will hurt my character, his misdeeds were reported in the press. after this episode, he disappears from public view. i did my best to trace him down, but with no luck. that gives you an example of disrespectability, the kind of things that the black elite and that my family shunned and wanted to have no part of. i want to come back and say a little bit about women and what i can say, i can talk more about what they did in the q&a, but i just want to point out the way in which woman as part of the black elite helped to police right the norms of respectable behavior so they were the ones who were very prom innocent in
-- prominent in defining norms of respectability. richard's memoir offers a rare glimpse into the social lives the black elite telling of the pleasures and sheer fun they enjoyed despite the harsh conditions under which they labored. among the friends of family, two circles founded on personal preference. they were led respectfully by charl reason's wife and elizabeth west bowers. they gathered about and studious and conservative keeping open house of all visitors of note. it was surrounded by loving folks young and old. not to have a good time was impossible. to mrs. reason belonged the honor. heifer strain of french blood made her queen of entertainers and covered her with a taste in social fungses that were ire --
fangses -- functions. they added a third woman, her mother. if i can go back -- that's mary joseph lyons. she was the group of young single and married folks who found in her a social woman whose company was agreeable as when she was a maiden. with her, it was possible to have a good time without fuss and feathers. her guests were frequent, they danced, played, or sung, played games or sued for charity, and all alike found an opportunity to pass delightful hours with her in the home were curtesy and socialability reigned supreme. it was possible to move from one circle to another, no lines were drawn. however, the same persons could be met now in one circle now in
the other. you can understand how somebody like james with his play acting career, with his brushes with the law, with his time spent in prison, with his hard labor, so forth would not have been welcome in these groups where curtesy, socialability, and fredlyness reigns supreme. the other thing i can point out about this passage, i think it gives you a glimpse into something i had a hard time talking about in my book which was pleasure because we're so used to talking about a press subordinated people, depressed and sub board nateed and become victims, having a down trodded life and having a sense of obligation and duty and so forth, and one of the things i tried to capture here in their social live that also in their
participation in st. phillip's church was the sense of pleasure and of appreciation of beauty, that's true i think of the denomination and rituals and the ability, yeah, to enjoy beauty, to enjoy et thetic experience. i'm going to close now. if you read my book, we go from lower manhattan over to brooklyn in 1870s and the book goes up to about 1895, so we have a kind of scattering of the black population, and, of course, later on they go up to harlem; right? that's after 1910 or whatever, so in conclusion rather than talk about scattering, i want to talk about coming back together. on a windy october day last fall, i took a trip to sigh press hill cemetery in brooklyn with a map and went searching
for the graves of my family and friends who left manhattan and broke lip -- brooklyn for their resting place. buried there were phillip's mother, e liz beth, two sisters and families, and phillip and his family. alexander, charles ray, and their families lay nearby, so i didn't have a chance to talk about them in this talk, but they are in the book. right next to phillip lays smith, recently redis covered and got a brand new marker. i was astonished to discover the men bought their plots at the same time between january and may of 1850 determined that not even death would separate them. crossing the path and walking up a hill, a found the land that st. phillip's church bought in the late 1850s. the ray family plot, which
included peter, was notable for tallness that jutted skyward. in the days of the 19th century, the black elite reunited here. their graves are physical reminders of their lives and congressmen rations of their -- congressmen death. they are waiting to be brought back to life and light in the rightness of time. thank you. [applause] >> you guys have any questions? >> thank you for your presentation. >> thank you. >> what did it feel like when
you have had ah-ha moment of finding a puzzle piece and also discovering that you were missing other pieces? in your putting together the threads, also, did you ask any of the sources how they came to have this information, like the shawmberg or the new york historical society? >> yeah, the first thing i'll point out, not what you asked me, but i wanted to make it clearment i had nobody living to ask. i had a couple of leads, a woman who contacted me after seeing something that i wrote on the web, and i was so excited that day. i remember going, taught at the english department, i ran into work and said later this afternoon, i'm calling this woman to fill this the gaps, and, no, she wanted information from me. [laughter] i was so disappointed, then the second question is finding the
man new script -- manuscript material, i would just shake and quiver, so finding the first ones, finding that i when least expected, there were 12 shoe boxes, you know, about like that, remember the old days? and i got to box eight, and there's a moment in which weariness sets in and how can i do this? i go hot and cold and shake, and you're in a manuscript room, you left everything outside, you're wearing gloves, your facing the people so you don't run away with anything and you have something called a snake to hold things down, and then there's your glasses and all this stuff around you, and it's so hard. i mean, you feel the emotion, but it's so hard to express them. when i found the one at the new
york city historical society, and that was just days and days of going through written records, and i was like, well, why am i doing this? the young man there, and i went and told him, and he said to me, he got really excited. i should give you this book. i was like, yeah, yeah, he's like you know i can't. [laughter] that's number two. the third question was about when i -- >> [inaudible] >> yes, okay. so a woman had written a book called the free negro in new york. it was a columbia dissertation from the 1970s, and she died before publishing it. her name was rhoda golden freedman. her husband published it as a
book and gave the collection to the shawmberg, and i, the book is also and everybody's saying, oh, go to the recent scholarship, but she had really, really done her homework. i mean, she did everything, and i ended up just repeating what she did just for verifying everything she had panned out, so he'd given it to the schaumberg and the materials in her book i expected to find there not just as a primary source, but a footnote. i was stunned to find that, and nobody knows where the scrapbook page comes from. that's another one of the i mean, the gaps i can't fill in. where does it come from? somebody cared enough. there's poems next to the o yarr, and each is something
significant. there's the trinity, mother church of st. phillips, there's why johnny can't read about education, references is about dying and going to help and god saying why do you deserve to be here. he said ask my wife and daughter's three, and so the person really knew phillip and really loved him, and i mean, that's the whole congressmen d dcommemeration right there. >> i want to thank you so much for this wonderful prosecution. it gives me goose bumps your relative is james hiewt. that's amazing. i just gave the walking tour a
couple weeks ago, and i did mention him, so this is really amazing. >> oh. >> my question is where was the lawrence street school located? >> it was on lawrence street it was one block parallel to thompson. >> oh it's la guardia now? >> oh, yeah. >> oh, thank you. the engravings on bond street, do you have an address for that? >> it's in the book. >> oh, okay. >> i think it's 50 something, yeah, yeah. >> and that would have been approximately what year? >> that would have been the 50s, and, again, it's in the book. >> okay, great. >> he moves to cleveland after, and i'm not sure whether he ever comes back. he's in cleveland in the 1860s. he comes back to visit, but not
to live, so i would say the shop was in the 1850s. i'm pretty sure it's in the 1850s. yeah. >> great, thank you so much. >> yeah. >> i don't remember if you remember how long it took you from the day you decided to do this until the book came out, but i'm sure you went through such an up and down ease escalator of emotions. how did you know when you were done, and how did you feel when you were finished with it i would wonder. >> that's a really good question because nobody else knew, and i'm not sure i did. i just -- i was tenacious and i would just dig and dig and i could not give it a rest.
after two or three years, my husband says why don't you start writing. i said, i have nothing to write. he said it's been two years. i said i have an outline, the bare bones of it, but i know that it's the details that will make the book sizzle. it's all going to be in the detail, so getting the date and the, i think it's 56 bond street, i think, you know, getting that stuffer -- stuff right makes all the difference in the world. why start writing if i have to go over a do it? i really wanted the detail, and i dug and dug and dug long before -- long after people told me to stop especially historians, and i'm a literary critic by training. i teach an english department, i'm not a historian, but people were laughing and saying give it a rest, you know.
one example -- i -- an independent scholar i knew had said about phillip's where he was the apprentice, and this somewhat cranky independent scholar said, how do you know? it's just in the obit. i was like, well, it's in the obit. he said, well, you don't know. i decided to track it down, and i started to look for the apprenticeship and his going to the college of pharmacy of the city of new york which is also in the obit, and i found out that the college of pharmacy became part of columbia in 1903 or 1904 i think, and then was part of the college or the school of pharmacy, and it's been dismounted in the 1970s, so i called up the ark vies at columbia and started pestering
him and said no, we probably threw it out. i was like i don't believe you. i decided to keep on looking, so i started calling historians of american pharmacy around the country, and i called here and there and elsewhere, and i finally said this is my last phone call, and i reached a man someplace, i think it was ohio state, it was in ohio, and he said to me, well, you know, the best cash of pharmacy papers are the wisconsin historical stoat. i was like, i didn't know that. [laughter] he said, yeah, because the university of wisconsin was the first school to establish a graduate department in pharmacy sometime back in the 19th century, so i booked a plane ticket and went out, and that's when my historian friends were just really, really laughing, but i found it. i went through the minutes, and i found the record of when -- of
his entrance, his graduation, and then 30 years later of his admission to the college as a member of the college which is like being, like having a professional membership, and the young men who graduated with him, there were four of them, they had gotten in, they graduated in april of 1844, they all became members in may of 1844, and it took my great grandfather until the 1870s to become a member, and that was worth it, and after that, i said, that's enough. [laughter] that's enough. [laughter] >> you have some really wonderful information about the 1840s and then your families in the 1850s and stuff about them in the 70s and 80s. i'm wondering about the 1860s and civil war and your family then if you have any scraps.
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