African-American Religion: A Documentary History Project
Research Resources

Retelling Carter Woodson’s Story:
Archival Sources for Afro-American Church History

Albert J. Raboteau and David W. Wills
with Randall K. Burkett, Will B. Gravely, and James Melvin Washington

Note: This bibliographical essay was prepared in the early stages of the Project by its original editorial team, which included Randall K. Burkett (Emory University), Will B. Gravely (Denver University), and the late James Melvin Washington. It is presented essentially as it first appeared in the
Journal of American History 77, no. 1 (June 1990): 183–199, and later reprinted in Walter H. Conser, Jr. and Sumner B. Twiss, eds., Religious Diversity and American Religious History (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1997), 52–71. Copyright © 1990 by the authors. All rights reserved. Some information found in the endnotes concerning journal subscription rates and microfilm catalog prices subsequently may have changed, thus the respective institutions should be consulted. For a contextualization of this essay within the Project’s subsequent work, see the Editorial Statement, note 16.

     For a survey history of the Afro-American churches in the United States, one will still not do better than Carter G. Woodson’s The History of the Negro Church—a three hundred-page study first published nearly seventy years ago.1 Given the extraordinary increase during the last quarter-century in scholarly attention to black religious life, it may at first seem surprising that there has not appeared a modern study capable of supplanting Woodson’s classic but dated work. It is, however, in part the very increase in the scholarly literature on the black churches that has deterred would-be synthesizers from attempting a comprehensive survey. Where Woodson confronted his sources more or less unaided—and undetained—by a significant body of contemporary scholarship, the modern scholar faces a thickening array of articles, books and dissertations.2

     The contemporary student of Afro-American religious life also finds it far harder to focus his or her attention on the ecclesiastical history of black Christianity than Woodson did. The History of the Negro Church is not troubled by any deep concern with the possible African sources of Afro-American religious belief and practice. Neither does it inquire about the relationship between black religious life as it emerged on the North American mainland and the religious patterns evident among Caribbean slaves, nor worry very much about what was going on religiously even among mainland blacks themselves before 1750. Instead, it moves briskly toward the history of black evangelicalism. Baptists and Methodists abound in Woodson’s pages—and they are mostly male and usually clergy, and they are generally busy building institutions, conducting educational and social service enterprises, and fighting the good fight politically. One reads little there about the missionary societies of black women or the special performance styles of black preaching and worship. One also learns nothing from Woodson about the more or less continuous thread of Islam in Afro-American religious life. The concluding chapter on “New Temples for Strange Prophets,” added for the 1945 edition, has only the most perfunctory discussion of the Holiness and Pentecostal churches, the Father Divine Peace Mission Movement, and the Nation of Islam. Of course, there is also nothing in Woodson’s book about those African-based religious movements from the Caribbean that are such a fascinating part of the contemporary scene—Haitian vodun and Cuban santería. Yet it is precisely an interest in all these things not found in The History of the Negro Church that has animated much of the best recent work on Afro-American religion—and with good reason.

     The study of the religious history of the United States generally has been for too long an examination of the institutional and intellectual development of American Protestantism—especially in the Northeast—and it is not the least contribution of much recent work in Afro- American religious history that it has helped break this mold. Students of American religious history generally are slowly—but one hopes, surely—coming to see that Africans were as much a part of the earliest history of the Atlantic world as Europeans were, that the American story begins as much in the South as in New England or the Middle Colonies, and that the encounter of blacks and whites has been from the beginning of that history as central a part of the American religious problematic as the heritage of Puritanism or the fact of Euro-American religious diversity.3 Historians of religion in the United States have also come even more clearly to embrace a concern for popular as well as elite forms of religion, to make regular use of non- literary as well as literary resources in their research and teaching, and to pay due attention to that part of the American religious spectrum that lies at the edge or altogether beyond the “Judeo-Christian tradition.” Obviously, all these changes in the study of American religious history have occurred in relation to deep and pervasive changes, not only among historians and within the academy, but in the culture generally. Yet the study of Afro-American religious history has certainly been an integral part of these developments and has contributed importantly to them.

     There may, however, be a certain irony in this, for it is possible that these changed directions in the study of American religion have helped keep the institutional (and intellectual) study of black American Christianity under a certain continuing shadow of neglect. When many scholars who had previously considered themselves “church historians” abandoned that label in the 1960s to become “historians of American religion,” they left behind library shelves well stocked with volumes devoted to the history of Euro-American Christianity in the United States, above all to the denominational history of Euro-American Protestantism. There existed no comparable body of modern scholarly literature on the black denominations. The ability of the black churches to generate histories from their own resources, though considerable in the nineteenth century, has seemingly diminished for most of the twentieth.4 Meanwhile, outsiders attracted to the study of black religious life between World War I and the civil rights era seem more often to have been anthropologists interested in rural folkways or sociologists attracted by urban “sects and cults” than historians curious about the institutional history of the black churches. Important work that was done—especially work concerning the twentieth century black churches—never made its way into print, it being a long standing pattern, for example, that dissertations about Father Divine or the Black Muslims rapidly find a publisher while dissertations on major black urban congregations and pastors do not. In the last two decades increased attention to Afro-American religious history has produced significant advances, and the scholarly literature on the black churches is beginning to grow, especially for the nineteenth century. But in a time when church history generally and denominational history in particular are more or less out of fashion, progress has been painfully slow. So Woodson’s The History of the Negro Church remains the most adequate overall survey of its subject.

     In our view the time has come for a major new effort to retell the story of the black Christian churches in the United States. We do not put this goal ahead of the other major goals being pursued by scholars of Afro-American religious history, but we do put it alongside them. We think it is tremendously important, for example, to fill out the story of all those decades that Woodson so quickly glides over at the beginning of his work—or never really gets to at the end. But we also think it is equally important to retell the tale that The History of the Negro Church was mostly concerned to tell, the story of the emergence of the black churches, primarily out of the matrix of the eighteenth-century evangelical revivals, their development through the nineteenth century, and their changing experience in the twentieth. The story is one that includes both men and women, both eminent leaders and ordinary folk, both forceful assertions of black autonomy and doggedly determined efforts to make biracial collaboration work. The sources for this story are manifold and to a significant degree still untapped. But they are also widely dispersed, difficult of access, and often either unrecognized or even unknown. What follows is a survey and assessment of some of the most important resources.

     A major initial problem confronting scholars concerned to locate manuscript and archival sources for the history of the black churches is the lack of any current or comprehensive guide to such materials. Walter Schatz’s Directory of Afro-American Resources remains a useful survey of a vast array of black history collections in cities and towns across the United States, and its index provides some guidance in identifying collections especially pertinent to black church history. But it is now twenty years out of date. The more recent Howard University Bibliography of African and Afro-American Religious Studies is enormously useful for hard-to-find printed materials, but has only a few pages on manuscripts. For current and continuously updated information on manuscript and archival sources for Afro-American religious history, researchers should therefore turn to the Newsletter of the Afro-American Religious History Group. Published semiannually at the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard University, the newsletter has, since its beginning in 1976, regularly carried reports by scholars and librarians about recently-processed manuscripts, specialized bibliographies, notes about finding aides, and research queries.5

     An extremely valuable base line of data on the history and development of the black churches is to be found in the massive body of material gathered by the Historical Records Survey, under the auspices of the Works Projects Administration, in the years 1935–42. Surveys of church records at the congregation level were conducted in each state, and the survey files for thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia survive. Those files make available in standardized form information about the founding and development of individual congregations and the availability of their minute books, membership registers, and other records. Some files also include news clippings and unpublished as well as published historical sketches. A useful guide compiled by Loretta L. Hefner, The WPA Historical Records Survey, provides a state by state analysis of the location and scope of extant church records surveys.6

     A second general resource relevant to a wide range of topics in black church history is a group of clipping and vertical files that provide ready access to invaluable material in the black press. The black press, from its beginning in 1827, has published substantial information on churches, clergy, and denominational meetings at local, state, and national levels. Because complete texts of these papers often do not survive, they are sometimes only available through such clippings files.

     Two collections stand out for the scope of their coverage. The first is the Clipping File of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. Monumental in scope, with over 10,000 subject headings, it contains in addition to clippings, numerous broadsides, pamphlets, programs, book reviews, and ephemera. Information on religion is organized by individual congregation, geography, individual biography, and denomination, but relevant material will be found under other headings as well, such as bishops, race relations, spirituals, preaching, and religious education. The second is the Tuskegee Institute News Clippings File, which focuses on the period 1910–66 and contains 352 linear feet of mounted clippings, plus a few unmounted clippings, reports, and letters. Categories to consult for information on the black church include biography, carnivals, church and religion, civil rights, education, “missions, foreign,” temperance, “women’s work,” and YMCA and YWCA.7

     Two other clipping files deserve special mention. The Hampton Institute Newspaper Clipping File, assembled between 1900 and 1925, contains 55,000 clippings from black and religious newspapers. A substantial number of files are biographical, while others focus on education, women, voluntary associations and religion. The Gumby Collection of American Negro Scrapbooks, covering the years 1910–50, is held by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University. Compiled by L.S. Alexander Gumby, individual scrapbooks deal with Catholics, Ethiopia, Marcus Garvey, Harlem, “Jewish-Prophet-Others,” the Negro in Africa, Negro religions, Protestantism, and Father Divine, among others.8

     Research on the history of the major independent black churches is complicated by the wide dispersal of relevant material for each denomination. This is true for both the most recent and the earliest periods, but holds in a special way for the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The written records, published and unpublished, of the rise and early history of the African churches (as they were originally designated) are in widely scattered locations. Consulting all the pertinent denominational archives cited below would not locate more than a fraction of the relevant materials. Some valuable items seem to have been lost. Some pamphlets, church minutes, and private diaries that were available to nineteenth-century black denominational historians have in some cases subsequently disappeared. The personal journal of Joseph Cox, influential AME preacher and brother of black Shaker visionary Rebecca Cox Jackson, was, for example, a century ago in the possession of AME historiographer Daniel Payne. Today it can no longer be located.9 Happily, state archives and historical societies have preserved some manuscript minutes for a number of early and important local congregations, but scholars are more likely to find their way to some of these than to others. That the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s holdings include some records of the earliest African Baptist and African Presbyterian congregations in Philadelphia is not surprising, but researchers may easily miss the minutes of the Abyssinian Church of Portland in the Maine Historical Society, Portland. They may also overlook unexpected items in familiar places, such as the record book (1827–48) of the Trenton, New Jersey, circuit of the AME Church at the Library of Congress.10 Similar examples could be given for the later stages of black church history. Research in the history of any of the denominational groupings of Afro-American Christians is, then, of necessity a multiarchival undertaking. It may well begin with whatever repositories are sponsored by the churches themselves but must also extend over a diverse range of public and private, familiar and unfamiliar archives.

     For the black Baptist churches, there are no major archival centers associated with denominational schools, historical societies, or administrative headquarters that currently provide researchers with centralized access to the minutes, correspondence, and other records of major church bodies or the papers of notable church leaders. The National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., the largest of the black denominations throughout the twentieth century, has recently opened the Baptist World Center in Nashville, Tennessee. It holds important uncatalogued materials, including the records of some denominational boards and agencies and the minutes of some state conventions and local associations. The best access to the records of the twentieth century black Baptist denominations—and their nineteenth century precursors—is provided by the microfilm collection of the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (HCSBC), Nashville, Tennessee.11 The Commission has filmed material from many repositories relevant to various Baptist denominations, both black and predominantly white. It has, for example, filmed minutes of the American Baptist Missionary Convention (1842–72); the National Baptist Convention (1897–1915); the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Incorporated; and the National Baptist Convention of America. They have also filmed National Baptist Publication Board materials, The Mission Herald, the National Baptist Union-Review, the National Baptist Voice, and the catalogues of Roger Williams University.

     The most complete collection of nineteenth century materials dealing with black Baptist history is to be found at the American Baptist Historical Society in Rochester, New York. Included here is the single largest set of minutes and journals of black state conventions and local associations—some of it material not included in the HCSBC microfilm project. The ABHS also holds a virtually complete run of the National Baptist Magazine (1894–1901), the first denominational journal of the National Baptist Convention.12 Broken runs of William Jefferson White’s Georgia Baptist, the oldest black southern periodical in continuous publication (1880 to the present), are available at the ABHS and at the Atlanta University Center’s Woodruff Library, Atlanta, Georgia.13 Some of the records of the American Baptist Home Missionary Society are also to be found at the latter location, but for much of the critically important correspondence between this agency and black Baptist leaders, one must consult the holdings of the national headquarters of the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Material relevant to the history of black Baptists in an especially important state is also to be found in the Virginia State Archives and the Virginia Baptist Historical Society.

     Very substantial black Baptist material (though sometimes it is not identified as such) is also to be found in most of the major repositories familiar to students of Afro-American history. Especially notable here are the personal papers of some of the most influential Baptist leaders of the twentieth century. The Library of Congress, for example, holds the papers of Nannie H. Burroughs, longtime leader of the Woman’s Convention of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. Inc., and nationally known political activist. Most of the papers of churchman and educator Benjamin Mays are now being catalogued at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center of Howard University, Washington, D.C. His Morehouse College presidential papers, as yet entirely uncatalogued, are held by the Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center. Most papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., for the years 1945–62 are for the most part currently located at the Mugar Library of Boston University, while those for the period 1962–68 are to be found in the archives of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.14 Researchers should also be aware of significant manuscript collections for lesser known but nonetheless important black Baptist figures, e.g., the papers of Tennessee reconstruction legislator David Foote Rivers at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville; those of twentieth-century Cleveland preacher Wade Hampton McKinney at the Western Reserve Historical Society, and those of Nashville civil rights leader Kelly Miller Smith at the library of Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville.

     The major black Methodist bodies, whose histories reach much further back into the nineteenth century than any of the contemporary black Baptist denominations, have a slightly more established pattern of central archival collecting.15 Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, the oldest black church-related college in the United States, has long served as a major center for the collection of materials concerning the African Methodist Episcopal Church (founded in 1816). Its holdings include the largest (but still quite incomplete) runs of general and annual conference minutes, an extensive collection of the published reports of church departments and organizations, a large but incomplete set of the denomination’s quarterly, the AME Church Review (1884 to the present), and substantial manuscript materials relating to influential bishops Daniel Alexander Payne and Reverdy C. Ransom—as well as very substantial printed and manuscript materials related to the university and its faculty. These holdings are supplemented by the much smaller but parallel collections of nearby Payne Theological Seminary. These collections do not, however, include the records and papers of the denomination’s major boards and agencies. The most important collection of these is held by the AME Financial Department in Washington, D.C. These holdings include not only the records of that department, but also some material related to various other AME agencies. The records of the AME Department of Home and Foreign Missions for the years 1912 to 1960 have recently been acquired by the Schomburg Center. The Schomburg Center also holds an important collection of general conference minutes and a scattering of annual conference minutes for the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and an extensive run of the AME Church Review, which is complete through the early 1920s and available on microfilm for the years 1884–1910. Significant though scattered holdings of annual conference minutes are also held by a number of state and local historical societies, such as the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.16

     The “Mother Church” of the denomination, Bethel AME in Philadelphia, has also played an important role in documenting African Methodist history from its earliest beginnings. In collaboration with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the congregation’s Historical Commission has made available on microfilm both Bethel’s own records from its founding until 1972 and its nearly complete run of the denomination’s Christian Recorder, the oldest continuously published black newspaper in America, for the years 1854–1902. Another extensive collection of the Christian Recorder, from 1880 to 1917 and from 1941 to the present, housed at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, nicely complements the microfilm run (1913–36) produced by the American Theological Library Association.17 Drew also holds a partial run of the Southern Christian Recorder for the years 1890, 1896–97, and 1901–4. Copies of the short-lived antebellum AME periodicals, the African Methodist Episcopal Church Magazine (1840–48) and the Repository of Religion and Literature, Science and Art (1858–64), are not available on film. Fisk University Library holds a complete set of the former, while runs of the latter may be found at the Indiana State Library, Indianapolis (1858–61) and the Houghton Library, Harvard University (1862–63), Cambridge, Massachusetts.

     Collections—usually small—of the personal papers of important AME church leaders can be found in a wide variety of archives. The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center holds the 1856 and 1877–78 journals of Daniel Payne and a collection of material on Henry McNeal Turner. An intermittent series of personal diaries (1851–69) and other papers belonging to AME theologian, editor and bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner are located at the Library of Congress. A very substantial collection of the diaries, correspondence and other papers of another late nineteenth-century theologian, Theophilus Gould Steward, are held by the Schomburg Center, as are the papers of Bishop John Albert Johnson. Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, has the papers of Alabama presiding elder Winfield Henry Mixon, which consist primarily of an incomplete series of personal journals running from 1895 to 1915. The miscellaneous papers of Bishop Charles Spencer Smith (four linear feet) are available at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, while a collection (five and a half linear feet) of the papers of pastor and presiding elder Charles Henry Boone are held by the Tennessee State Library and Archives. These two collections also contain, respectively, the papers of Christine Shoecraft Smith and Willie Boone, which bear in part on women’s work in the AME Church.

     Livingstone College and Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, North Carolina, have the most important collections on the AME Zion Church (founded in 1822).18 They contain extensive though incomplete runs of general and annual conference minutes, as well as manuscript material of some of the denomination’s bishops and other leaders, including Joseph Charles Price, John Bryan Small and John Dancy, Sr. Records of the early history of Mother Zion Church in New York are located both at the historic John Street United Methodist Church and also in the New York Public Library. Various partial series of AME Zion conference minutes, together covering much of the nineteenth century, may be found at Boston University (Mugar Library), Wilberforce University, the John Carter Brown Library, and the Rhode Island State Historical Society, the latter two in Providence. Of early denominational newspapers, only The Star of Zion is known to be extant. Drew University’s holdings begin in 1884, while the microfilm run produced by the American Theological Library Association extends from 1896 to 1970. The papers (six linear feet) of Stephen Gill Spottswood, AME Zion bishop and longtime chairman of the national board of the NAACP, are located at the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University in New Orleans.

     The last organized (1870) of the major Afro-Methodist denominations, the Colored Methodist Episcopal (since 1954 the Christian Methodist Episcopal) church, has collected its church records, the papers of denominational leaders and a long run of the Christian Index, a church weekly, at the CME Publishing House in Memphis, Tennessee. Drew University also holds a nearly complete set of the Christian Index from 1891 to the present. A sizable though as yet uncatalogued collection of the papers of retired CME bishop Henry C. Bunton are to be found at the Schomberg Center.

     Because the major independent black Methodist denominations emerged as secessions from the Methodist Episcopal church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, (the major predecessor bodies to the United Methodist church), the archival record of black Methodism is in many places bound up with archival records of Methodism generally in the United States. This is especially true for the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when early records of the ME societies along the Atlantic seaboard vividly demonstrate an African presence. The United Methodist Historical Society at the Lovely Lane Museum in Baltimore contains class lists of that area’s biracial Methodist societies for the period before a black secession created Baltimore’s Bethel AME. Similar documentation is at the Maryland Hall of Records, Annapolis, for black Methodists in Annapolis and for their coreligionists in Richmond and Petersburg at the Virginia State Archives, Richmond.

     Because many blacks, despite racial schisms, remained within the ME church throughout its history, the United Methodist church today has more Afro-American members than any other predominantly white Protestant denomination. The most important body of material on their history is held by the United Methodist archive at Drew University. It has collected minutes of the black annual conferences of the ME church and of the Central Jurisdiction of the Methodist church (1939–68). It also holds the correspondence of the Freedmen’s Aid Society of the ME church, which was crucially involved in black education in the post-Civil War South, and microfilm copies of the Southwestern Christian Advocate (1876–1929), the Christian Advocate: Southwestern Edition (1929–40), and the Central Christian Advocate (1941–68), which successively gave voice to the denomination’s black constituency. Some papers (three linear feet) of Robert E. Jones, one of the first black Methodist Episcopal bishops elected to serve in the United States rather than in Africa, are at the Amistad Center.

     Blacks have also held membership in many other predominantly white Protestant denominations in the United States besides those of the United Methodist tradition. Information concerning them is generally to be found at the major archival centers which most of these churches sponsor. The number of such groups is too large for us to discuss all of them.19 We will comment, by way of illustration, on only one, the Episcopal church, which has a small but important black membership whose history reaches back into the prerevolutionary missionary efforts of the Church of England.

     The starting point for research on black Episcopalians is the denominational archives. The Archives and Historical Collections of the Episcopal Church are located on the campus of the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, in Austin, Texas. The extensive records of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society there include the especially important Liberian Records, 1822–1952, and the Haitian Records, 1855–1939. Indices and collection descriptions are available. Among many other valuable collections are those of the American Church Institute for Negroes, organized in 1905 to secure funds for eleven Episcopal schools and hospitals for Afro-Americans throughout the South. For information about specific regions, parishes, or clergy, one must also consult the local diocesan archives. One such, the Maryland Diocesan Archives, located at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, deserves special mention. Its more than sixty thousand items, chiefly manuscripts, include important materials dealing with slavery, emancipation, colonization, and the condition of blacks, as well as church work by and on their behalf. Many items have been indexed by both author and recipient, subject, and names of individuals mentioned in correspondence, which greatly facilitates their efficient and effective use.20 Among seminary libraries, none is more important than General Theological Seminary in New York City. Its holdings include bound volumes of George F. Bragg’s Church Advocate (1913?–40) officially the parish monthly of Baltimore’s St. James First African Episcopal Church. The paper also served for many years as the voice of the Conference of Church Workers among Colored People, a caucus of black Episcopal clergy organized in the late nineteenth century. The seminary also holds the papers of prominent Episcopal clergyman, Tollie L. Caution, Sr. Papers of individual priests are widely scattered. For example, the bulk of the papers of nineteenth-century intellectual Alexander Crummell are found at the Schomburg Center (though his papers as a whole are to be found in libraries on four continents), while the papers of Pauli Murray, the first female ordained in the Episcopal Church and a major twentieth-century black religious activist, have recently been deposited at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

     Until the 1930s, the number of black Roman Catholics was small. Steady growth in the last half-century has, however, made black Catholics today the largest constituency of Afro-American Christians belonging to a predominantly white church. Major resources for their history are contained in the archives of those religious orders and organizations dedicated to a special mission to African Americans and in the archives of those dioceses and archdioceses that have included significant numbers of black communicants. The Josephites, who began their work in the 1870s, have developed the most extensive archive of black Catholic history. Housed at the Josephite headquarters in Baltimore, it includes detailed records of numerous Josephite parishes scattered throughout the South; the letter books of Josephite Superior John R. Slattery, an early advocate of the ordination of black priests; biographical files on black Catholic priests; runs of periodicals devoted to the “Negro Apostolate”; and a continuous clipping file of items concerning twentieth century black Catholics. The archives of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, also located in Baltimore, contain the annual journals of the earliest community of black religious women, founded in 1829. The records of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, founded by Katherine Drexel in 1891 to serve “Colored and Indian” missions, are available to researchers at the community’s motherhouse in Philadelphia. They contain important information on Mother Katherine’s extensive financial support (based on her inheritance of the Drexel fortune) of missions, parishes, and schools, including Xavier University in New Orleans, the only black Catholic University in the nation. The archives of the Archdiocese of Boston include papers dealing with the career of James A. Healy, the first Afro-American ordained to the priesthood. At the Archdiocese of Chicago archives, the development of black Catholic parishes and issues of black Catholic concern can be chronicled through chancery correspondence. The Msgr. Daniel Cantwell Papers at the Chicago Historical Society contain a wealth of information about the Catholic Interracial Council and other mid-twentieth-century Catholic efforts to improve race relations in that city. An incomplete run of the late nineteenth-century black Catholic newspaper, the American Catholic Tribune, edited by Dan Rudd, a layman who organized five black Catholic Congresses between 1889 and 1894, is available on microfilm from the American Theological Library Association. The records of the Commission for Catholic Missions Among the Colored People and the Indians, located at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, include reports (some detailing conditions) and requests for financial assistance from local parishes and missions from the 1920s.

     Special problems arise concerning the rapidly growing Church of God in Christ (COGIC), reportedly now the second largest of all the black denominations and, indeed, for the other black Pentecostal—and the black Holiness—denominations as well. Charles Edwin Jones, Black Holiness, provides a useful orientation to the organizations, leadership, and literature of these increasingly prominent and influential churches, but it does not list manuscript holdings.21 Efforts are underway at the Historical/Cultural Museum at COGIC headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, to organize that denomination’s archives. Some materials have already been assembled and catalogued, but a large body of minutes, records and other material remains widely scattered and largely inaccessible, especially for the period before 1956. Difficult to locate too are the papers of major church leaders. The most readily accessible body of unpublished material on Charles H. Mason, the denomination’s founder, may be the file assembled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A substantial run of the COGIC periodical Whole Truth (1907 to the present) was reportedly held by the late Pentecostal historian, James Tinney. Tinney’s papers, currently in private hands, may represent the most significant new material on black Pentecostalism likely to become available for research in the 1990s. The most extensive collection of black Pentecostal and Holiness material currently available is that assembled by Sherry Sherrod DuPree at the Institute of Black Culture of the University of Florida in Gainsville. It contains more than 8,000 items, including minutes, yearbooks, pamphlets, clippings, and a small body of manuscripts. An important uncatalogued collection of material on these churches, formerly held by the library of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, is unfortunately currently in storage at the Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center and therefore unavailable for use by researchers.

     While a careful attention to denominational loyalties and structures is a necessary and important feature of the study of black church history, generally, most scholars will of course not confine their interest to a single denomination or denominational family. They are likely instead to give their investigations a chronological or thematic definition. Myriad specific research possibilities and problems will naturally arise from the specific period or topic chosen. We can do no more here than hint at some of the resources pertinent to such work.

     Scholars particularly interested in the mid-nineteenth century will find at the Amistad Center a critically important resource: the extensive correspondence and reports of the American Home Missionary Society and the American Missionary Association, which together include some 550 linear feet of material. Especially important for the years surrounding the Civil War, these collections—like much else in the Center’s rich holdings—also illuminate black religious life in the twentieth century. For the Civil War and Reconstruction era, extensive if widely scattered materials are also to be found in the War Department records in the National Archives, particularly in the records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (Record Group 105). Especially rich are the records of the bureau’s assistant commissioners for the different states, most of which are available on microfilm. The records of the Office of the Chief of Chaplains (Record Group 247) and of the Adjutant General’s Office (Record Group 407) provide important information on the War Department’s dealings with a range of black religious organizations over the first half of the twentieth century.22 For the period from the 1920s until the early 1960s, researchers will find much of interest in the Claude A. Barnett Papers at the Chicago Historical Society. Founder and director of the Associated Negro Press (ANP), Barnett carried on a voluminous correspondence, thirteen boxes of which are directly catalogued under the heading “religion.” Included as well are hundreds of ANP press releases, many concerning the black churches.23 Important also for the mid-twentieth century are the holdings of the National Archives for Black Women’s History and Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., which document the activities not only of Bethune (a Methodist activist) but also of many church women’s groups.24

     For scholars taking a more thematic than chronological or denominational approach to the study of the black church, one major thematic focus has been—and is likely to remain—the churches’ engagement in social reform movements and in electoral politics. The Black Abolitionist Papers project (in addition to publishing many documents in what will be a five-volume edition) has microfilmed the correspondence and contributions to newspapers of three hundred Afro-Americans, and the minutes of religious and reform organizations connected with their careers. Since most of these persons were religiously active, this collection sheds important light on church-related participation in the abolitionist movement. The papers of white “carpetbagger” and social reformer Albion Tourgée, at the Chautaugua County Historical Museum, Westfield, New York, contain correspondence from important late nineteenth-century church-based black leaders such as Henry McNeal Turner and Joseph C. Price.25 The Amistad Center holds a small collection of the papers of Henry H. Proctor, an important black social gospeller. The Booker T. Washington Papers at the Library of Congress are rich in detailed information about the relation of the Tuskeegee Machine to the black churches, while patronage-related correspondence involving politically active black clergy is to be found in the papers of every American president since reconstruction. Certain to cast important new light on the role of the church in twentieth-century black politics, especially during the interwar period, are the papers of Washington’s nephew and black Republican power-broker Roscoe Conkling Simmons, recently acquired by the Harvard College Library. Consisting of twelve linear feet of correspondence, eight feet of speeches, twelve feet of newspapers, clippings and political ephemara, and eight feet of photographs, this important new collection is currently being catalogued and should be open for use in 1991. Material pertinent to the activities of twentieth century church-based reformers, both clerical and lay, is also to be found in the enormous body of archival resources documenting the struggle for civil rights from the founding of the NAACP and the Urban League to the present.26

     As important as it is to track the churches’ role in public life, it is equally important that scholars continue to explore the rich religious life that these institutions have sheltered and nourished for more than two centuries. The distinctive style of worship of black Christians, especially musical performance, has attracted the notice of observers since the eighteenth century. Historians, influenced by anthropologists and folklorists, have of late wisely begun to turn to religious performance, sermons, prayers, and hymns, in order to get at the beliefs and attitudes of the “people in the pew” whose views might otherwise remain inaccessible. To document this crucial aspect of black church life, photographs, recordings, films and videotapes are increasingly important resources.27 The single most important collection providing photographic documentation of rural and urban black churches and religious services, though only for the depression era, is the Farm Security Administration Collection in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. Exceptionally rich visual documentation is also sometimes available for specific locations. The Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis, Tennessee, holds a collection of 500 photographic prints and 30,000 feet of raw film footage of black church life in and around Memphis from the 1920s through the 1950s.28 For the study of black religious music, as for black music generally, an important resource is the Black Music Research Bulletin (published semiannually by the Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College Chicago), which among other things carries information about research collections in this field.29 Another similarly helpful publication is Rejoice!, the gospel music magazine of the Center for Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. John Michael Spencer, As the Black School Sings, provides a guide to the archival collections of ten historically black universities, which include printed, manuscript, recorded, and photographic materials important for the study of Afro-American religious music. The Archive of Folk Music of the Library of Congress contains extensive field recordings of black religious music, some of them never issued. Beginning in the 1920s, recordings of black preachers and gospel singers were produced by many of the major record companies specifically for black audiences.30 Over seventy of the sermons of the Reverend C. L. Franklin, a master of the art of chanted preaching (and the father of Aretha Franklin), were recorded, primarily under the Jewel and Chess labels.31 A complete set of these may be found at the Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives of Bowling Green University, Bowling Green, Ohio, which also holds an extensive collection of commercially released recordings of popular music, including black gospel music. The holdings of the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro include a significant number of commercially released recordings of black gospel singers and some field recordings of the black sacred harp tradition. The DuPree collection on the Holiness and Pentecostal traditions includes some 650 audio and 50 video tapes of meetings, personal interviews, and worship services, mostly from Williams Temple, (COGIC) in Gainesville, Florida.

     Only when such materials as these are fully integrated with the more traditional sources detailed above will an adequate retelling of Carter Woodson’s story be possible. And only with the retelling of Woodson’s story will it be possible adequately to retell the religious history of the United States in its entirety.


     1. Carter G. Woodson, History of the Negro Church (Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1921). A second revised edition was published in 1945 and reissued as a third edition in 1972. The most important overviews of black church history since Woodson are E. Franklin Frazier, Negro Church in America (New York: Schocken Books, 1964) and Gayraud S. Wilmore, Black Religion and Black Radicalism (1972; reprint, Maryknoll: Orbis, 1983). The former is a very brief and often unpersuasive sociological essay, while the latter focuses on the relationship of black religion to protest and political activities, so neither is an adequate replacement for Woodson. [return to text]

     2. No edition of Woodson, History of the Negro Church contains footnotes or bibliography, so it is impossible to know clearly and precisely what sources its author used. For some of the most important scholarly work of the 1970s and 1980s, focusing wholly or to a significant extent on the institutional history of Afro-American Christianity, see Carol V. R. George, Segregated Sabbaths: Richard Allen and the Rise of the Independent Black Churches (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973); Milton Sernett, Black Religion and American Evangelicalism: White Protestantism, Plantation Missions, and the Flowering of Negro Christianity, 1787–1865 (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1975); Albert J. Raboteau, Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978); Randall K. Burkett and Richard Newman, eds., Black Apostles: Afro-American Clergy Confront the Twentieth Century (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1978); Randall K. Burkett, Garveyism as a Religious Movement: The Institutionalization of a Black Civil Religion (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1978); Mechal Sobel, Trabelin’ On: The Slave Journey to an Afro-Baptist Faith (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979); William B. Gravely, “The Social, Political, and Religious Significance of the Foundation of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (1870),” Methodist History, 18 (Oct. 1979): 3–25; Jualynne Dodson, “Nineteenth Century AME Preaching Women: Cutting Edge of Women’s Inclusion in Church Polity,” in Women in New Worlds, ed. Hilah F. Thomas and Rosemary Skinner Keller (Nashville: Abington, 1981); David W. Wills and Richard Newman, Black Apostles at Home and Abroad: Afro-Americans and the Christian Mission from the Revolution to Reconstruction (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982); Clarence E. Walker, A Rock in a Weary Land: The African Methodist Episcopal Church During the Civil War and Reconstruction (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982); Walter E. Williams, Black Americans and the Evangelization of Africa, 1877–1900 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982); Evelyn Brooks, “The Feminist Theology of the Black Baptist Church, 1880–1900,” in Class, Sex and Race: The Dynamics of Control, ed. Amy Swerdlaw and Hanna Lessinger (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1983); Will B. Gravely, “The Rise of African Churches in America (1786–1822): Re-Examining the Contexts,” Journal of Religious Thought, 41 (Spring/Summer 1984): 58–73; Aldon D. Morris, The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change (New York: Free Press, 1984); Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, “‘Together and in Harness’: Women’s Traditions in the Sanctified Church,” Signs, 10 (Summer 1985): 678–99; James Melvin Washington, Frustrated Fellowship: The Black Baptist Quest for Social Power (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1986); special issue “The Black Catholic Experience,” U.S. Catholic Historian, 5 (1986); Mechal Sobel, The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteenth-Century Virginia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987); Margaret Washington Creel, “A Peculiar People”: Slave Religion and Community Culture Among the Gullahs (New York: New York University Press, 1988); special issue “The Black Catholic Community, 1880–1987,” U.S. Catholic Historian, 7 (Spring/Summer 1988); Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–63 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988); David E. Swift, Black Prophets of Justice: Activist Clergy Before the Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989); David W. Wills, “An Enduring Distance: Black Americans and the Establishment,” in Between the Times: The Travail of the Protestant Establishment in America, 1900–1960, ed. William R. Hutchison (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 168–92; and Albert J. Raboteau, “The Black Church: Continuity within Change,” in Altered Landscapes: Christianity in America, 1935–1985, ed. David W. Lotz, Donald W. Shriver, Jr., and John F. Wilson (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishers, 1989), 77–91. [return to text]

     3. On the encounter of blacks and whites as a religious theme in American history to Puritanism and pluralism, see David W. Wills, “The Central Themes of American Religious History: Pluralism, Puritanism and the Encounter of Black and White,” Religion and Intellectual Life, 5 (Fall 1987): 30–41. [return to text]

     4. Nineteenth-century black denominational histories written from within include, for the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, Daniel A. Payne, Semi-Centenary and the Retrospective of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America (1866; reprint, Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1972), Daniel A. Payne, History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1891; reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1969), and N. C. W. Cannon, History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (Rochester, 1842). For the AME Zion tradition, see Christopher Rush, Short Account of the Rise and Progress of the African Methodist Episcopal [Zion] Church (New York: Privately published, 1843); John J. Moore, History of the A.M.E. Zion Church (York: Teachers’ Journal Office, 1884) and James W. Hood, One Hundred Years of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (New York: A.M.E. Zion Book Concern, 1895). For the Colored, later Christian Methodost Epsicopal (CME) church, see Fayette M. Hamilton, Conversation on the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (Nashville, 1884); and Fayette M. Hamilton, Plain Account of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (Nashville, 1887). More comprehensive is Charles H. Phillips, The History of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (1898; reprint, New York: CME Publishing House, 1972). An expanded version of the same volume, called a second edition and bringing the story into the early twentieth century was published in 1925. Important for their preservation of sources and of the story of blacks in biracial, but predominantly white, denominations are George F. Bragg, Jr., History of the Afro-American Group of the Episcopal Church (1922; reprint, New York: Church Advocate Press, 1968); Matthew Anderson, Presbyterianism: Its Relation to the Negro (Philadelphia: J. M. White, 1897); L. Y. Cox, Pioneer Foot Steps (Cape May, N.J.: Star & Ware Press, 1917); and L. M. Hagood, Colored Man in the Methodist Episcopal Church (Cincinnati: Cranston & Stowe, 1890). Among the most notable of the twentieth-century efforts in black denominational history are Charles S. Smith, History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (Philadelphia: Book Concern of the A.M.E. Church, 1922); George A. Singleton, Romance of African Methodism (New York: Exposition Press, 1952); Howard D. Gregg, History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church: The Black Church in Action (Nashville: African Methodist Church, 1980); David H. Bradley, History of the A.M.E. Zion Church (2 vols., Nashville: Parthenon Press, 1956–70); William J. Walls, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church: Reality of the Black Church (Charlotte, A.M.E. Zion Publishing House, 1974); Othal H. Lakey, History of the C.M.E. Church (Memphis: CME Publishing House, 1985); Lewis G. Jordan, Negro Baptist History, U.S.A., 1750–1930 (Nashville: Publishing Board, Negro Baptist Church, 1930); Leroy Fitts, History of Black Baptists (Nashville: Broadman, 1985); and Andrew E. Murray, Presbyterians and the Negro: A History (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Historical Society, 1966). Interest among the black churches in documenting and writing their history has recently increased. [return to text]

     5. Walter Schatz, ed., Directory of Afro-American Resources (New York: R. R. Bowker, 1970); Ethel L. Williams and Clifton F. Brown, comps., Howard University Bibliography of African and Afro-American Religious Studies: With Locations in American Libraries (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1977). For information on the Newsletter, address inquiries to the Editor, Newsletter, DuBois Institute, Canaday Hall-B, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138. Annual subscription is $5.00 (payable to the Afro- American Religious History Group). A reprint edition of previously published newsletters is being planned. [return to text]

     6. Loretta L. Hefner, WPA Historical Records Survey: A Guide to the Unpublished Inventories, Indexes and Transcripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 1980). The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, is currently engaged in a national effort, supported by the Lilly Endowment, to identify and gather documentary material on Afro-American religious history. One of its projects is to assemble in a single file copies of all Works Project Administration (WPA) black church records surveys, which should greatly facilitate their use. [return to text]

     7. The Clipping File of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is available from Chadwyck-Healey: Schomburg Clipping File, Part I, 1924–1975 (microfiche, 9500 cards, Alexandria, Va., 1988). For a guide, see Index to the Schomburg Clipping File (Teaneck, N.J.: Chadwyck-Healey, 1985). A second series of the Schomburg Clipping file, for 1975–88, is being filmed. The Tuskegee Institute News Clipping File was organized by Monroe N. Work, who used it to provide data for Negro Yearbooks published at Tuskegee beginning in 1912. The comprehensive microfilm edition—Tuskegee Institute Clippings File, 1899–1966 (microfilm, 252 reels, Ann Arbor, 1978), available from University Microfilms International—includes the texts of all published volumes of the Yearbooks. See John W. Kitchens, ed., Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the Tuskeegee Institute News Clipping File (Tuskeegee: Carver Research Foundation, 1978). [return to text]

     8. The Hampton Institute Newspaper Clipping File (microfiche, 826 cards, Teaneck, 1987) is available from Chadwyck-Healey. The Gumby Collection of American Negro Scrapbooks (Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, New York, N.Y.) has been filmed and is available for interlibrary loan or purchase from Kenneth A. Lohf, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Butler Library, 6th floor, 535 West 114th Street, Columbia University Libraries, New York, NY 10027. [return to text]

     9. On this document, see Payne, History of the AME Church, v. That lost or little-known manuscripts can still be recovered and given new life by contemporary researchers is evident from Jean McMahon Humez, ed., Gifts of Power: The Writings of Rebecca Jackson: Black Visionary, Shaker Eldress (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981). See also William L. Andrews, ed., Sisters of the Spirit: Three Black Women’s Autobiographies of the Nineteenth Century (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986). [return to text]

     10. This item is to be found in the Carter G. Woodson Papers (Manuscript Division, Library of Congress), one of the most important multidenominational black church manuscript collections. [return to text]

     11. Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, 901 Commerce Street, Suite 400, Nashville, TN 37203. [return to text]

     12. For an index to National Baptist Magazine, see Lester B. Scherer, comp., Newsletter of the Afro-American Religious History Group, 6 (Spring 1982): 4–9. See also Lester B. Scherer, comp., Afro-American Baptists: A Guide to Materials in the American Baptist Historical Society (Rochester, N.Y.: American Baptist Historical Society, 1985), a useful (though not definitive) guide to the Afro-American material of the American Baptist Historical Society, Rochester, N.Y. [return to text]

     13. The American Baptist Historical Society run, which covers the years 1898 to 1949 (with many breaks), is available on microfilm from the American Baptist Historical Society, 1106 S. Goodman Street, Rochester, NY 14620. The authors are indebted to Ralph E. Luker, associate editor, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, for information about the Georgia Baptist and several other items cited in this article. [return to text]

     14. The Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project, which to publish a twelve-volume edition beginning in 1991, is drawing not only on these 2 major collections but also on 150 additional collections held in dozens of archives and in private hands. Inquiries about this project should be directed to Professor Clayborne Carson, Editor, The Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, Cyprus Hall-D, Stanford University, CA 94305–4146. [return to text]

     15. For the most important of the smaller black Methodist bodies, see Lewis V. Baldwin, “Invisible” Strands in African Methodism: A History of the African Union Methodist Protestant and Union American Methodist Episcopal Churches, 1805–1980 (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1983). See also Will B. Gravely, “African Methodisms and the Rise of Black Denominationalism,” in Rethinking Methodist History: A Bicentennial Historical Consultation, ed. Russell E. Richey and Kenneth E. Rowe (Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House, 1985), 111–24. [return to text]

     16. For information on the holdings of the AME Financial Department and assistance on other points, the authors are indebted to Professor Dennis C. Dickerson of Williams College. Elected AME Church historiographer in 1988, Dickerson is currently exploring the possibility of establishing a central denominational repository. He has produced a pamphlet guide to research in AME materials, Dennis C. Dickerson, The Past Is In Your Hands: Writing Local AME Church History (n.p., 1989), available from Dennis C. Dickerson, P.O. Box 301, Williamstown, MA 01267. AME Church Review (microfilm, 4 reels, Millwood, n.d.) is available from Kraus International Publications. [return to text]

     17. Inquiries concerning Christian Recorder (1854–1902) microfilm (12 reels) and The Records of the Mother Bethel AME Church, 1760–1972 (24 reels, Historical Commission, Mother Bethel AME Church, Philadelphia, Pa.) should be addressed to The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 and Historical Commission, Mother Bethel AME Church, 419 South Sixth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19147. Inquiries concerning Christian Recorder (1913–36) microfilm may be addressed to Preservation Board, American Theological Library Association, 820 Church Street, 3rd floor, Evanston, IL 60201. [return to text]

     18. The William J. Walls Heritage Center, established on the campus of Livingstone College and Hood Theological Seminary, Salisbury, N.C., was intended as the major denominational archive, but it is currently unstaffed and therefore not open to researchers. [return to text]

     19. For blacks in the Presbyterian churches, the researcher is advised to begin at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia. For blacks in the Congregational tradition, an especially important collection is that of the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans. On the relevant holdings of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society in Nashville, Tennessee, see Preliminary Guide to Black Materials in the Disciples of Christ Historical Society (Nashville: Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1971). [return to text]

     20. This detailed index was complied over a lifetime of work by diocesan historiographer F. Garner Ranney. [return to text]

     21. Charles Edwin Jones, Black Holiness: A Guide to the Study of Black Participation in Wesleyan Perfectionist and Glossolalic Pentecostal Movements (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1987). For information concerning archival materials on the black Holiness and Pentecostal churches, the authors are indebted to Professor Hans Baer of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Professor David Daniels of McCormick Theological Seminary; Professor Robert Franklin of the Candler School of Theology, Emory University; Professor Cheryl Townsend Gilkes of Colby College; Albert G. Miller, doctoral student at Princeton University; and Richard Newman of the New York Public Library. [return to text]

     22. The American Home Missionary Society and American Mission Association collections have been filmed and are available for purchase or interlibrary loan through the Amistad Research Center, Tilton Hall, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70118. Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, RG 105 (National Archives) are available from the National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives, Washington, DC 20408. Black Studies: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microform Publications (Washington, D.C., 1984), which includes a detailed description of this and other related microfilm collections, is available for $5.00 (including postage and handling) from the National Archives Trust Fund, P.O. Box 100793, Atlanta, GA 30384. For information concerning materials in the War Department records in the National Archives, we are indebted to the Military Reference Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. A more extensive description of these and related materials is forthcoming in the Newsletter of the Afro-American Religious History Group. [return to text]

     23. The Claude A. Barnett Papers (Chicago Historical Society, Chicago, Ill.): The Claude A Barnett Papers: The Associated Negro Press (microfilm, 198 reels, Frederick, Md., 1985–86). [return to text]

     24. On this and related collections, see Deborah Gray White, “Mining the Forgotten: Manuscript Sources for Black Women’s History,” Journal of American History, 74 (June 1987): 237–42. [return to text]

     25. On the black church in American politics, see David W. Wills, “Beyond Commonality and Plurality: Persistent Racial Polarity in American Religion and Politics,” in Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the 1980s, ed. Mark A. Noll (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 199–224. On the Black Abolitionist Papers, see George E. Carter and C. Peter Ripley, eds., Black Abolitionist Papers 1830–1865: A Guide to the Microfilm Edition (New York: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1981). The papers of Albion Tourgée are available on microfilm from University Microfilms International: The Albion W. Tourgée Papers (microfilm, 60 reels, Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1965). [return to text]

     26. See Robert L. Zangrando, “Manuscript Sources for Twentieth-Century Civil Rights Research,” Journal of American History, 74, (June 1987): 43–51. [return to text]

     27. Exhibitions can also supply important documentation for this as well as other aspects of black church life. See, for example, Edward D. Smith, Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: The Rise of Black Churches in Eastern American Cities, 1740–1877 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988), published in relation to a major exhibition at the Anacostia Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. The exhibit “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” began a three-year tour of thirty-six American cities in the spring of 1990. In each locality, the exhibition will include manuscripts and artifacts newly gathered from congregations in that area; it will therefore augment, as well as display the literary and material documentation of early black church history. [return to text]

     28. This collection is the work of one person, the Reverend L. O. Taylor. A documentary film on Taylor’s life and work, “Sermons and Sacred Pictures,” is available from the Center for Southern Folklore, 1216 Peabody Avenue, P.O. Box 40105, Memphis, TN 38104. The Center has also published a two-volume catalog useful for locating films and videotapes relevant to the study of the black churches may be identified and located (the catalog includes the addresses of distributors): American Folklore Films and Videotapes: An Index (Memphis: Center for Southern Folklore, 1976), and American Folklore Films and Videotapes: A Catalogue, Vol. II (New York: R. R. Bowker, 1982). Three films deserve special mention. “Say Amen, Somebody,” a commercially released film, now on videotape, highlights the careers of gospel singer Willie Mae Ford Smith and gospel composer Thomas A. Dorsey. “Fannie Bell Chapman: Gospel Singer,” a film depicting the ministry of a Mississippi gospel singer and faith healer, illustrates the importance of healing in Afro-American religious practice. “The Performed Word,” a documentary film now available on videotape, examines continuity and change in black preaching through a comparison of Bishop Elmer E. Cleveland, Ephesians Church of God in Christ, Berkeley, California, and his daughter, Ernestine Cleveland Reems, pastor of the Center of Hope in Oakland, California. The film is especially effective in presenting the sequential development and congregational response to the chanted sermon. Its producer has analyzed Bishop Cleveland’s preaching—and that of other black preachers—in Gerald L. Davis, I Got the Word in Me and I Can Sing It, You Know: A Study of the Performed African-American Sermon (Philadelphia: University of Illinois Press, 1985). See also Bruce A. Rosenberg, Can These Bones Lives?: The Art of the American Folk Preacher (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988); Albert J. Raboteau, “‘A Fire in the Bones’: The Afro-American Chanted Sermon,” 1982 (in Albert J. Raboteau’s possession); and Albert J. Raboteau, “The Afro-American Traditions” in Caring and Curing: Health and Medicine in Western Religious Traditions, ed. Ronald L. Numbers and Darrel W. Amundsen (New York: Macmillan, 1986), 539–62. [return to text]

     29. Inquiries concerning Black Music Research Bulletin may be addressed to Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College, Chicago, 600 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605. The authors are indebted to Richard Newman for calling this periodical and other related material to their attention. John Michael Spencer, As the Black School Sings: Black Music Collections at Black Universities and Colleges, with a Union List of Book Holdings (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987). [return to text]

     30. A collection of such “race records” is Paul Oliver, comp., Songsters and Saints (Matchbox Records MSEX 2001/2002 and MSEX 2003/2004, 2 vols., 4 disks). [return to text]

     31. C. L. Franklin’s recorded sermons have largely gone out of print. Among the places where those still available can be ordered—and other hard-to-find recordings of black religious music and sermons obtained—is Down Home Records, 10341 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530. Information about a reissue of “classic recordings of C. L. Franklin” can be obtained from: Stan Lewis, Jewel Records, P.O. Box 1125, Shreveport, LA 71163–1125. See also Reverend C.L. Franklin, Give Me This Mountain: Life History and Selected Sermons, ed. Jeff Todd Titon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), which contains texts of several of the recorded sermons. [return to text]

Copyright © 2006 The Trustees of Amherst College and
African-American Religion: A Documentary History Project
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