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Early Contributions
of African-Americans

Inquiry Unlimited's classroom application: Teaching American History


Slavery-related and early African-American Contributions
  1. Adler, David. A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman. NY: Holiday House, 1992. (unp) Biography of the black woman who escaped from slavery to become famous as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
  2. Alderman, Clifford. Rum, Slaves, and Molasses: The Story of New England's Triangular Trade. NY: Crowell, 1972. Summary: Traces the triangular trade.
  3. Andrew, Frank. The Birth of Black America: The Age of Discovery and the Slave Trade. NY: Chelsea House, 1996. (110 ps.) A history of early exploration in the Americas and Africa and an examination of the slave trade that followed.
  4. Avi. Something Upstairs. New York: Avon Books, 1988. (116 pages) A strange story heard by the author in Providence, Rhode Island involving a room that held a secret mystery in 1800.
  5. Bains, Rae. Harriet Tubman The Road to Freedom. New Jersey: Troll Associates, 1982. (48 pages) The biography of a slave whose flight to freedom was the first step in her becoming a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad.
  6. Bentley, Judith. Dear Friend: Thomas Garrett & William Still, Collaborators on the Underground Railroad. NY: Cobblehill Books, 1997. (119 ps.) Based on correspondence between William Still and Thomas Garrett demonstrating the efforts of these two men to help slaves to freedom.
  7. Bentley, Judith. Harriet Tubman. NY: F. Watts, 1990. (144 ps.) Details Harriet Tubman's life, experiences, and efforts to aid slaves in escaping to the North, as well as her assistance to the Union cause during the Civil War.
  8. Bial, Raymond. The Underground Railroad. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995. (48 ps.) How did the Underground Railroad work?
  9. Brill, Marlene Targ. Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1993. (47 ps.) Recounts how Allen Jay, a young Quaker boy living in Ohio during the 1840s, helped a fleeing slave escape his master and make it to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
  10. Carlson, Judy. Harriet Tubman: Call to Freedom. NY: Fawcett Columbine, 1989. (116 ps.)
  11. Clark, Margaret Goff. Freedom Crossing. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1980. (164 pages) Southern teenagers- one with Northern sympathies and one with Southern sympathies help a runaway slave during the mid-1800s.
  12. Cosner, Shaaron. The Underground Railroad. NY: Franklin Watts, 1991. (128 ps.) Describes the underground railroad which helped slaves escape to freedom.
  13. Davidson, Margaret. Frederick Douglass Fights For Freedom. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1968. (92 pages) A biography of the man who, after escaping slavery, became an orator, writer, and leader in the anti-slavery movement of the early 19th century.
  14. Elish, Dan. Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1993. A biography of the African American woman who escaped from slavery, led slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, aided Northern troops during the Civil War, and worked for women's suffrage.
  15. Felton, Harold. Mumbet - The Story of Elizabeth Freeman. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1970. (63 pages) Elizabeth Freeman of Sheffield, Massachusetts bought as a slave by John Ashley in 1735, filed for, and won her freedom in 1773. She worked for the Sedgwick family and much is attested to her loyalty, character, and nursing ability. For her respect, she earned the name Mumbet. She challenges the law in Massachusetts, which allows her to gain her freedom in the courts.
  16. Ferris, Jeri. Go Free or Die: A Story about Harriet Tubman. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda, 1988. (63 pages) A biography of the black woman whose cruel experiences as a slave in the South led her to seek freedom in the North.
  17. Ferris, Jeri. Walking the Road to Freedom: A Story About Sojourner Truth. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1988. (64 pages) This follows the life of the Black orator in 1797 New York who spoke out in her involvement in the rights of women and slaves.
  18. Ferris, Jeri. What Are You Figuring Now? A Story About Benjamin Banneker. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1988. (64 pages) A biography of the Afro-American farmer and self-taught mathematician, astronomer, and surveyor for Washington, D.C. in 1791.
  19. Fox, Paula. The Slave Dancer. New York: Bradbury Press, 1973. (176 pages) A boy plays music on a slave ship for the slaves to exercise.
  20. Fradin, Dennis B. Bound for the North Star: True Stories of Fugitive Slaves.
  21. Freedman, Florence. Two Tickets to Freedom .. The True Story of Ellen and William Craft, Fugitive Slaves. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971. (93 ps.) Ellen Craft, a slave, poses as a white Southern planter traveling with his slave (her husband) from Macon, Georgia to Philadelphia to Boston in 1848.
  22. Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. The Trials of Phillis Wheatley. NY: Basic Civitas Books, 2003. (129 pages) Role that Wheatley played in her contribution to black literature.
  23. Gorrell, Gena. North Star to Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad. NY: Delacorte Press, 1997. (168 ps.) Details the history of the Underground Railroad from the roots of slavery through the post-Emancipation era by focusing on the lives of the participants.
  24. Griffin, Judith Berry. Phoebe The Spy. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1977. (47 ps.) In 1776, thirteen year old, black, Phoebe Fraunces, whose father owns the Queen's Head Tavern in New York spies for the Patriots by gathering information for General George Washington.
  25. Haber, Louis. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1970. (181 pages) Benjamin Banneker, Norbert Rillieux, Jan Matzeliger, Elijah McCoy, Granville Woods, Lewis Latimer, Garrett A. Morgan, George Washington Carver, Percy Julian, Lloyd A. Hall, Ernest Just, Daniel Hale Williams, Louis T. Wright, Charles Drew. Includes bibliography and index.
  26. Hamilton, Virginia. Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave. NY: Scholastic Inc., 1988. (180 ps) Anthony Burns stows away on a ship bound for Boston and believes he is free until his former owner arrives to reclaim Anthony as his property under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act. This covers the time period 1839 - 1854. Includes selections from the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
  27. Hamilton, Virginia. Many Thousand Gone: African Americans From Slavery to Freedom. NY: Knopf, 1993. Recounts the journey of Black slaves to freedom via the underground railroad, an extended group of people who helped fugitive slaves in many ways.
  28. Hammond, Arthur. Prince Hall: Social Reformer. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1992. (103 pages) A summary of the life and career of the black social reformer. Includes a bibliography and index.
  29. Hansen, Joyce. Out From This Place. New York: Walker & Company, 1988. (135 pages) Sequel to Which Way Freedom? A fourteen-year-old black girl tries to find a fellow ex-slave who joined the Union army during the Civil War during the confusing times after the emancipation of the slaves.
  30. Hansen, Joyce. Which Way Freedom? New York: Walker, 1986. (120 pages) Obi escapes from slavery during the Civil War, joins a black Union regiment, and soon becomes involved in bloody fighting at Fort Pillow, Tennessee.
  31. Haskins, Jim. Get on Board: The Story of the Underground Railroad. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1993. (134 pages) Discusses the Underground Railroad, the secret, loosely organized network of people and places that helped many slaves escape north to freedom. Includes a bibliography, timeline, and index.
  32. Kleinman, Joseph and Kurtis-Kleinman, Eileen. Life on an African Slave Ship. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 2001.
  33. Klots, Steve. Richard Allen: Religious leader and social activist. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1991. Chronicles the life of Richard Allen (1760 - 1831), an Afro-American leader, who rose from slavery to become a minister, founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and participated in the first National Negro Convention.
  34. Kulling, Monica. Escape North!: The Story of Harriet Tubman. NY: Random House, 2000. Surveys the life of Harriet Tubman, including her childhood in slavery and her later work in helping other slaves escape north to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
  35. Lester, Julius. Long Journey Home. New York: Scholastic, 1988. (147 pages)
  36. Lester, Julius. This Strange New Feeling. New York: Dial Books, 1982. (149 ps.)
  37. Lester, Julius. To Be A Slave. New York: Scholastic, 1986. (160 pages)
  38. Levine, Ellen. ... If You Traveled on The Underground Railroad. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1993. (64 pages) This question and answer book format deals with the Underground Railroad - how it worked, who rode on it, and why its name meant freedom.
  39. McClard, Megan. Harriet Tubman: Slavery and the Underground Railroad. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Silver Burdett Press, 1991. (133 ps.) A biography of the courageous woman who rose from slave beginnings to become a heroic figure in the Underground Railroad.
  40. McGill, Alice. Molly Bannaky. Boston, Mass., Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Relates how Benjamin Banneker's grandmother journeyed from England to Maryland in the late seventeenth century, worked as an indentured servant, began a farm of her own, and married a freed slave.
  41. McKissack, Patricia and Frederick. Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers. NY: Scholastic Press, 1999. A history of African-American whalers between 1730 and 1880, describing their contributions to the whaling industry and their role in the abolitionist movement.
  42. McKissack, Pat. Sojourner Truth: Ain't I A Woman? New York: Scholastic Inc., 1992. (unpaged) A biography of the former slave who became well-known as an abolitionist and advocate of women's rights.
  43. McLoone, Margo. Harriet Tubman. Mankato, Minn: Bridgestone Press, 1997. (24 ps.) A brief biography of the woman who escaped life as a slave and then rescued hundreds of other slaves as a conductor in the underground railroad.
  44. McMullan, Kate. The Story of Harriet Tubman: Conductor of the Underground Railroad. Milwaukee: G. Stevens Pub., 1997. (108 ps.) A biography of the African American woman who escaped from slavery, led slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, aided Northern troops during the Civil War, and worked for women's suffrage.
  45. Meltzer, Milton. In Their Own Words: A History of the American Negro, 1619 - 1865. New York: Crowell, 1964. (195 pages) (973.7M49) Includes a bibliography.
  46. Meltzer, Milton. The Black Americans: A History in Their Own Words. New York: Crowell, 1984. (306 pages) (E185.B55 1984) A history of Black people in the United States as told through letters, speeches, articles, eyewitness accounts, and other documents.
  47. Millender, Dharathula. Crispus Attucks: Boy of Valor. New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965. (192 pages) Born into slavery in Framingham, Mass. in 1723, Crispus Attucks grew with the desire of being free and becoming a sailor. He escaped and sailed with the whalers and maritime ships. He became active against taxation and died at the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770.
  48. Mitchell, Barbara. Shoes for Everyone: A Story about Jan Matzeliger. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda, 1986. (63 pages) A biography of the half Dutch/half black Surinamese man who, despite the hardships and prejudice he found in his new Massachusetts home, invented a shoe-lasting machine that revolutionized the shoe industry in the late 19th century.
  49. Monjo, F. N. The Drinking Gourd. New York: Harper Trophy, 1983. In defiance of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, Tommy learns firsthand of the underground railroad as his father, Deacon Fuller, helps a slave family escape to Canada and to freedom when they followed the drinking gourd (the Big Dipper.)
  50. Patterson, Lillie. Benjamin Banneker: Genius of Early America. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1978. (142 pages) A biography of the distinguished eighteenth-century black astronomer, farmer, mathematician, and surveyor whose accomplishments include having published a popular almanac and constructed the first completely American-made clock..
  51. Petry, Ann. Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad. New York: Crowell, 1955. (247 pages) The life and contributions of the "Moses" of her people.
  52. Petry, Ann. Tituba of Salem Village. New York: Crowell, 1964. (254 pages) The involvement of Tituba with the young girls of Salem in 1692 and their relationship to the witch trials.
  53. Pinkney, Andrea Davis. Dear Benjamin Banneker. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1994. (unp) Relates the life of Benjamin Banneker.
  54. Rappaport, Doreen. /U>Escape From Slavery: Five Journeys to Freedom. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991. (112 pages)(973.04Ra) Five accounts of black slaves who managed to escape to freedom during the period preceding the Civil War. Includes a bibliography.
  55. Rappaport, Doreen. Freedom River. NY: Jump at the Sun, 2000. (unp) Describes an incident in the life of John Parker, an ex-slave who became a successful businessman in Ripley, Ohio, and who repeatedly risked his life to help other slaves escape to freedom.
  56. Richmond, Merle. Phillis Wheatley. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. (111 pages) Traces the life of the Black American poet who was born in Africa, brought over to New England as a slave, and published her first poem while still a teenager.
  57. Rowley, John. Harriet Tubman. Des Plaines, Illinois: Heinemann Interactive Library, 1998.
  58. Santrey, Laurence. Young Frederick Douglass: Fight for Freedom. New Jersey: Troll Associates, 1983. (48 pages) Presents the early life of the slave who became an abolitionist.
  59. Sawyer, Kem Knapp. The Underground Railroad in American History. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1997. Describes the Underground Railroad and the historical events surrounding it and presents the stories of some of its conductors.
  60. Schroeder, Alan. Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman. NY: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1996. Young Harriet Tubman, whose childhood name was Minty, dreams of escaping slavery on the Brodas plantation in the late 1820s.
  61. Shaik, Fatima. Melitte. NY: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1997. (147 ps.) In 1772, years of mistreatment force thirteen-year-old Melitte to decide whether or not to run away from the Frenchman who has kept her as a slave on his poor Louisiana farm and leave the young girl who is the only person who ever loved her.
  62. Sherrow, Victoria. Phillis Wheatley. New York: Chelsea Juniors, 1992. The life of the woman who, although a slave, gained renown throughout the colonies as the first important black American poet.
  63. Smucker, Barbara. Runaway to Freedom. A Story of the Underground Railway. New York: Harper & Row, 1978. Two young slave girls escape from a plantation in Mississippi and wind a hazardous route toward freedom in Canada on the Underground Railroad.
  64. Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of the Underground Railroad. Chicago: Children's Press, 1981. (31 ps.) Discusses the people who aided slaves escaping from their captivity during the nineteenth century.
  65. Stein, R. Conrad. The Underground Railroad. Chicago: Children's Press, 1997. Describes the operation, stations, and famous conductors of the underground railroad, a network that helped slaves escape from bondage prior to the Civil War in the United States.
  66. Sterling, Dorothy. Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman. New York: Scholastic, 1987. (191 pages) The bold and daring life of Harriet Tubman, conductor on the Underground Railroad to the North.
  67. Sterne, Emma Gelders. The Slave Ship. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1953. (188ps) The story of Cinque and a group of kidnapped Africans' mutiny on the Amistad, a slave ship, their landing in Connecticut, and their trial defended by John Quincy Adams, a former president.
  68. Taylor, M. W. Harriet Tubman. NY: Chelsea House, 1991. (111 ps) Describes the life of the energetic abolitionist, including her origins as a slave in Maryland, her role as a ''conductor'' for the Underground Railroad, her service to the Union during the Civil War, and her role in establishing an old-age home for Afro-Americans.
  69. Troy, Don. Harriet Ross Tubman. Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 1999. (39 ps) A biography of the black woman whose cruel experiences as a slave in the South led her to seek freedom in the North for herself and for others through the Underground railroad.
  70. Turner Glennette Tilley. An Apple for Harriet Tubman. Morton Grove, Illinois: Albert Whitman & Company, 2006. (unpaged) [Based on facts learned in a 1984 interview with Mrs. Alice Brickler, great-niece of Harriet Tubman]
  71. Warner, Lucille Schulberg. From Slave to Abolitionist: The Life of William Wells Brown. NY: Dial Press, 1976. Autobiography of William Wells Brown born and raised a slave but who when freed devoted his life to the abolitionist movement (1815 - 1884).
  72. Weidt, Maryann N. Harriet Tubman. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Company, 2003.
  73. Winter, Jeannette. Follow the Drinking Gourd. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988. (48 pages) Escape to the north by runaway slaves.
  74. Wood, Peter H. Strange New Land: African Americans, 1617-1776. NY: Oxford University Press, 1996. Discusses the lives of blacks in the American colonies, from the 16th century when slaves were first brought over by the Spanish to the onset of the American Revolution.
  75. Yates, Elizabeth. Amos Fortune Free Man. New York: Dell Publishing Company, 1975. (181 pages) Born as At-Mun of royalty in Africa's Gold Coast, Amos survives the Middle Passage in 1725 to Boston, lives in Woburn with a tanner, and later moves to Jaffrey, New Hampshire.
  76. Zagoren, Ruby. Venture For Freedom. New York: World Publishing Company, 1969. (125 pages) Venture Smith (Broteer), born in 1729 in Guinea, Africa, the son of a chief, is captured as a slave and brought to Rhode Island where he lived during the Revolutionary War and won his freedom.

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