As the ravages of the First World War and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic receded into the past, a new spirit gripped New York City. Energy seemed to infuse every aspect of city life, from business to leisure and everything in between. For a decade, New Yorkers by and large lived, worked and partied with abandon. [Read more…] about New York City In the Roaring 20s: A Primer
This week on The Historians Podcast, New York City attorney and regular New York Almanack contributor Jim Kaplan explains how Harlem was economically developed in the early 1900s. Jewish financiers joined with Black realtor Phillip Payton to develop Harlem and in the process improved race relations in New York City. [Read more…] about How Harlem Developed as an African American Community
Around the time of the Civil War Joseph and Jesse Seligman were the most prominent Jewish businessmen on Wall Street – financiers of the Northern effort in the Civil War and close associates of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.
Every summer in the 1870s they would bring their families with a retinue of servants to stay at the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga Springs, NY among the most prominent resorts in the United States. In 1879 however, the new manager of the hotel, Judge Henry Hitlon, announced a new policy — henceforth no Jewish people would be allowed to stay there. [Read more…] about The Seligmans, Philip Payton & Harlem’s Black-Jewish Alliance
The latest History Twins podcast is about Madam C. J. Walker (1867 – 1919), who made a fortune by developing and marketing a line of cosmetics and hair care products for Black women, especially through the business she founded, the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company.
The first child of her large family born free. Sarah Breedlove was a child near Delta, Louisiana where her parents die and she was orphaned by the age of seven. She moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi, at the age of 10, working as a domestic servant. [Read more…] about Madam C. J. Walker: Black Hair Care Entrepreneur
Sarah and Angelina Grimke are revered figures in American history, famous for rejecting their privileged lives on a plantation in South Carolina to become firebrand activists in the North. Yet retellings of their epic story have long obscured their Black relatives. [Read more…] about The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family
Between 1915 and 1970, in the wake of racial terror during the post-Reconstruction period, millions of Black Americans fled from their homes to other areas within the South and to other parts of the country. This movement of people caused a radical shift in the demographic, economic, and sociopolitical makeup of the United States.
For instance, New York City — and particularly Manhattan — became home to hundreds of thousands of Black Americans during this time, catalyzing the start of the artistic and cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. [Read more…] about Artists Reflect On the Impact of Great Migration in New Exhibit
Before the arrival of European settlers, the flatland area that would become Harlem (originally: Nieuw Haarlem after the Dutch city of that name) was inhabited by the indigenous Munsee speakers, the Lenape. The first settlers from the Low Countries arrived in the late 1630s.
Harlem was an agricultural center under British rule (attempts to change the name of the community to “Lancaster” failed and the authorities reluctantly adopted the Anglicised name of Harlem). During the American Revolutionary War in September 1776 it was the site of the Battle of Harlem Heights. Later, rich elites built country houses there in order to escape from the city’s dirt and epidemics (Alexander Hamilton built his Harlem estate in 1802). [Read more…] about Harlem on Fire: Langston Hughes & Wallace Henry Thurman
Over the past two decades there has been an upsurge of interest in the life and work of Hubert H. Harrison. As a leading socialist and subsequent proponent of what he termed the mass-based “Race First” approach to organizing, Harrison exercised a direct, seminal influence on his contemporaries including A. Philip Randolph, W. A. Domingo, Marcus Garvey, Richard B Moore, Chandler Owen, Arturo Schomburg, Cyril Briggs, Claude McKay, James Weldon Johnson, Hodge Kirnon, J. A. Rogers and William Monroe Trotter.
As W. A. Domingo, childhood friend of Garvey and first editor of the Negro World would later explain, “Garvey like the rest of us followed Hubert Harrison.” [Read more…] about Hubert Harrison: Tribune of the People
Baker had started her career as a young dancer in Vaudeville shows where her exuberant talent was quickly spotted. When she moved to New York City she joined in the festival of black life and art now known as the Harlem Renaissance, but segregation and racism drove her away from home. [Read more…] about The Cabaret Trail: 1920s Urban Nightlife in New York, Paris & London
One of the effects of colonial expansion in the nineteenth century was that museums stopped being exclusively Euro-centered. The mapping of the annexed world was a responsibility of colonial governments which employed scholars to carry out the tasks of collecting and recording. Curators changed their collecting focus.
Works of art from Africa and Pacific Oceania that were looted, stolen or cheaply acquired without concern about provenance, found their way from British, French, Dutch, and Belgian colonial territories to the museums and curiosity shops of Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Brussels. [Read more…] about The Cake Walk, Prohibition & John Philip Sousa: Ragtime Wild Paris