Black History through primary sources

The final installation of the library’s Black History month reflections features work from two students enrolled in Stella Setka’s Rhetorical Arts class.

The students conducted research to identify sources related to slavery in the library’s Special Collections, and wrote rhetorical analyses in response to the objects they discovered.

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Anti-Slavery Almanac, c.1835-1847?

The intended audience of this almanac was white farmers. It was a reference they could use to know when their days began and ended, and what day and time was best to plant their crops. For example, a calendar was drawn for every month of 1838. For every day of the month, the sun’s rising and setting was displayed along with the day’s length, the moon’s rising and setting, the time of high water, and many other important facts. This almanac was also able to explain to the white farmers the latest news of what was occurring in reference to slavery, and asked for their opinion on the matter. It was an extremely useful tool.

This item is related to the overall theme of our Rhetorical Arts course because American slavery has been the main topic discussed in class, and this almanac has everything to do with slavery. Besides the calendars, each page had a passage that told a story of slaves being separated from their children, abolition, colonization and other various topics.

-Natalie Cabrera ’17

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Scenes in the Life of Harriett Tubman, 1869

“Scenes in the Life of Harriett Tubman” is a product of the tensions that resonated from the pro/anti-slavery argument of the antebellum period to the racist/non-racist argument of the post Civil War era. This book captures the abolition movement, which did not cease after the emancipation of slavery. The movement was continuing the grow larger and more influential. Bradford’s novel did this by touching on realms of race as well gender as both the author and the subject are women in support of equality within a culture that deems them both inferior. Bradford’s strategic use of rhetoric presents the growing power of the abolitionist movement to her audience in order to prepare them for a battle against racism as not only an institution but also as a mentality. 

-Jessica Legaspi ’17


These are but two examples of the types of treasures you can discover in our library. Would you like to conduct primary source research of your own? Curious to learn more about what we have? Make an appointment now!