Carter G. Woodson: Father of Black History...
February is African-American History Month, so we will be featuring appropriate posts during this period. I thought it was only fitting that we should start with the man who started it all, Carter G. Woodson. Please take note of the fact that he was a Berea College alumni...
CARTER GODWIN WOODSON "FATHER OF BLACK HISTORY"
Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature
Dorothy E. Lyles, Compiler
"Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history..."
These are the words of Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, distinguished Black author, editor, publisher, and historian (December 1875 - April 1950). Carter G. Woodson believed that Blacks should know their past in order to participate intelligently in the affairs in our country. He strongly believed that Black history - which others have tried so diligently to erase - is a firm foundation for young Black Americans to build on in order to become productive citizens of our society.
Known as the "Father of Black History," Carter G. Woodson holds an outstanding position in early 20th century American history. Woodson authored numerous scholarly books on the positive contributions of Blacks to the development of America. He also published many magazine articles analyzing the contributions and role of Black Americans. He reached out to schools and the general public through the establishment of several key organizations and founded Negro History Week (precursor to Black History Month). His message was that Blacks should be proud of their heritage and that other Americans should also understand it.
Carter G. Woodson was born in New Canton, Buckingham County, Virginia, to former slaves Anne Eliza (Riddle) and James Henry Woodson. Although his parents could neither read nor write, Carter G. Woodson credits his father for influencing the course of his life. His father, he later wrote, insisted that "learning to accept insult, to compromise on principle, to mislead your fellow man, or to betray your people, is to lose your soul."
His father supported the family on his earnings as a carpenter. As one of a large and poor family, young Carter G. Woodson was brought up without the "ordinary comforts of life." He was not able to attend school during much of its five-month term because helping on the farm took priority over a formal education. Determined not to be defeated by this setback, Carter was able "largely by self-instruction to master the fundamentals of common school subjects by the time he was seventeen." Ambitious for more education, Carter and his brother Robert Henry moved to Huntington, West Virginia, where they hoped to attend the Douglass High School. However, Carter was forced to earn his living as a miner in Fayette County coal fields and was able to devote only a few months each year to his schooling. In 1895, a twenty-year-old Carter entered Douglass High School, where he received his diploma in less than two years.
From 1897 to 1900, Carter G. Woodson began teaching in Winona, Fayette County. In 1900, he returned to Huntington to become the principal of Douglass H.S.; he finally received his Bachelor of Literature degree from Berea College, Kentucky. From 1903 to 1907, he was a school supervisor in the Philippines. Later he traveled throughout Europe and Asia and studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris. In 1908, he received his M.A. from the University of Chicago, and in 1912, he received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University.
During his lifetime, Dr. Woodson developed an important philosophy of history. History, he insisted, was not the mere gathering of facts. The object of historical study is to arrive at a reasonable interpretation of the facts. History is more than political and military records of peoples and nations. It must include some description of the social conditions of the period being studied.
Woodson's work endures in the institutions and activities he founded and promoted. In 1915, he and several friends in Chicago established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The following year, the Journal of Negro History appeared, one of the oldest learned journals in the United States. In 1926, he developed Negro History Week and in 1937 published the first issue of the Negro History Bulletin.
Dr. Woodson often said that he hoped the time would come when Negro History Week would be unnecessary; when all Americans would willingly recognize the contributions of Black Americans as a legitimate and integral part of the history of this country. Dr. Woodson's outstanding historical research influenced others to carry on his work. Among these have been such noted historians as John Hope Franklin, Charles Wesley, and Benjamin Quarles. Whether it's called Black history, Negro history, Afro-American history, or African American history, his philosophy has made the study of Black history a legitimate and acceptable area of intellectual inquiry. Dr. Woodson's concept has given a profound sense of dignity to all Black Americans.
CHRONOLOGY of DR. WOODSON'S LIFE
1875, Dec. 19
Birth, New Canton, Virginia
Left home to work on the railroad and then in the mines
Family moved to Huntington, West Virginia
Attended Douglass High School, Huntington, West Virginia
Attended Berea College, Kentucky
Attended Lincoln University, Pennsylvania
Taught, Winona, West Virginia
Principal, Douglass High School, Huntington, West Virginia
June 18, 1902-Dec. 1903
Attended University of Chicago
Bachelor of Literature from Berea College
Taught in the Philippines
Traveled in Europe and Asia; attended the Sorbonne, Paris, France
Attended University of Chicago
Attended Graduate School, University of Chicago; received B.A. in March; M.A. in August
Attended Harvard University
Taught, M Street (Dunbar) High School, Washington, D.C.
Ph.D. in History from Harvard University
1913 or 1914-1921
Member of the American Negro Academy
The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 published
Established the Association for the Study of Negro Life & History
First Biennial meeting of ASNLH
A Century of Negro Migration published
Principal, Armstrong Manual Training School, Washington, D.C.
Dean, School of Liberal Arts, Howard University
Dean, West Virginia Collegiate Institute (West Virginia State College); Established Associated Publishers
Received grant from the Carnegie Institution; The History of the Negro Church published
The Negro in Our History published
Free Negro Owners of Slaves in the U.S. in 1830: Together with Absentee Ownership of Slaves in the U.S. in 1830 published
Free Negro Heads of Families in the United States in 1830 published
Negro Orators and Their Orations published; The Mind of the Negro as Reflected in Letters Written During the Crisis, 1800-1860published; established Negro History Week; received Spingarn Medal
Appointed to Advisory Committee, Interracial Relations Committee on Problems and Policy Social Science Research Council; appointed staff contributor Dictionary of American Biography
Negro Makers of History published; African Myths: Together with Proverbs published
Attended summer meeting of Social Science Research Council, Dartmouth College
The Negro as a Businessman, with John H. Harmon, Jr. and Arnett G. Lindsay published
Established Woodson Collection at the Library of Congress
The Negro Wage Earner, with Lorenzo Greene published; The Rural Negro published
The encyclopedia controversy
Summers in Europe
The Mis-Education of the Negro published
The Negro Professional Man and the Community, with Special Emphasis on the Physician and the Lawyer published
The Story of the Negro Retold published
The African Background Outlined published
Began publication of the Negro History Bulletin
African Heroes and Heroinespublished
Doctor of Laws from West Virginia State College
1950, April 3
Elected to the Ebony Hall of Fame
Books By Dr. Woodson:
THE EDUCATION OF THE NEGRO PRIOR TO 1861: A HISTORY OF THE EDUCATION OF THE COLORED PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES FROM THE BEGINNING OF SLAVERY TO THE CIVIL WAR. New York: Putnam's, 1915. Repr. Ayer Co., 1968 LC2741.W7
A CENTURY OF NEGRO MIGRATION. Washington, D.C.: ASNLH., 1918. Repr. Russell, 1969. E185.9.W89
THE HISTORY OF THE NEGRO CHURCH. Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1921. BR563.N9W6
THE NEGRO IN OUR HISTORY. Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1922. E185.9 .W89 1970
FREE NEGRO OWNERS OF SLAVES IN THE UNITED STATES IN THE UNITED STATES IN 1830: TOGETHER WITH ABSENTEE OWNERSHIP OF SLAVES IN THE UNITED STATES IN 1830, ed. Washington: ASNLH., 1924; Repr. Negro Univ. Press. E185.W8873
FREE NEGRO HEADS OF FAMILIES IN THE UNITED STATES IN 1830: TOGETHER WITH BRIEF TREATMENT OF THE FREE NEGRO. Washington: ASNLH., 1925. F185.W887125
NEGRO ORATORS AND THEIR ORATIONS, ed. Washington: Associated Publishers, 1926. Repr. Russell, 1969. PS663.N4.W6
THE MIND OF THE NEGRO AS REFLECTED IN LETTERS WRITTEN DURING THE CRISIS, 1800-1860, ed. Washington: ASNLH., 1926. Repr. E185.W8877 1969b
NEGRO MAKERS OF HISTORY. Washington: Associated Publishers, 1928. E185.W85
AFRICAN MYTHS TOGETHER WITH PROVERBS: A SUPPLEMENTARY READER COMPOSED OF FOLK TALES FROM VARIOUS PARTS OF AFRICA. Adapted to use of children in the public schools. Washington: Associated Publishers, 1928. PE1127.G4 W7
THE NEGRO AS A BUSINESSMAN, joint author with John H. Harmon, Jr. and Arnett G. Lindsay. Washington: Associated Publishers, 1929. E185.8.H251
THE NEGRO WAGE EARNER, joint author with Lorenzo J. Greene. Washington: ASNLH., 1930. Repr. AMS Press. E185.G79
THE RURAL NEGRO. Washington: ASNLH., 1930. Repr. Russell, 1969. E185.86.W896
THE MIS-EDUCATION OF THE NEGRO. Washington: Associated Publishers, 1933. Repr. AMS Press, 1972. LC2801.W6 1977
THE NEGRO PROFESSIONAL MAN AND THE COMMUNITY: WITH SPECIAL EMPHASIS ON THE PHYSICIAN AND THE LAWYER. Washington: ASNLH., 1934 Repr. Negro University Press, 1969. Johnson Reprints E185.82.W88
THE STORY OF THE NEGRO RETOLD. Washington: Association Publishers, 1935. E185.W898
THE AFRICAN BACKGROUND OUTLINED. Washington: ASNLH., 1936. DT351.W89
AFRICAN HEROES AND HEROINES. Washington: Associated Publishers, 1939. DT3525.W66
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