Central Pennsylvania's journey from slavery to freedom
Afrolumens Project Site News
29 September 2010
Amazon.com has enabled "Look inside this book" for f The Year of Jubilee, Volume One: Men of God. Take a look at the feature for an idea of what the inside looks like. You can read large chunks of text using this feature. Although there is a search function, it does not appear to work, probably because their operational file is a non-text pdf. I don't know if this will change in the future.
I received a large shipment of books from the publisher, CreateSpace, today. All were printed and cut perfectly. I noticed some minor bubbling along the spine of two copies, but nothing serious.
My next step is to get copies into some local bookstores. I have some prospects, and will put that information out as soon as the bookstore owners agree to carry the book. Beyond that, I will have copies for sale at a heritage/genealogy lab at the Chautauqua and Fair following the Grand Review of Colored Troops, in Harrisburg on November 6th. Other events are being planned.
23 September 2010
Year of Jubilee, Volume Two: Men of Muscle, is now for sale on Amazon (click here), making the entire book now available for purchase. Early sales are promising. It is amazing to finally see this ten year effort come to fruition, but it is almost overwhelming to witness the support from friends and family. A hearty thank you to everyone who has expressed words of encouragement over the past fewe months as it went to the publisher, came back as proofs, then was submitted for final approval.
This marks the first publication for the Afrolumens Project. It has certainly been a learning experience, with lots of lessons learned. Overall, I could hardly be happier with the final product.
I am very proud of The Year of Jubilee because it is the first truly comprehensive history of Harrisburg's African American community, from the period of early colonial settlement all the way through the trials of the first two year of Civil War. There are a multitude of stories in these two volumes that have never been told in a published book, and many more that have been fleshed out, using census records, court records, newspaper reports, and personal reminiscenses, from a few bare hints and clues in old musty local histories.
The volumes utilize the data presented in the webpages of the Afrolumens Project, but they also are drawn from the material in dozens of spiral bound notebooks and two filing cabinets stuffed full from ten years of research. The working title, for several years, has been "The Afrolumens Book," which aptly describes its inspiration and source, but it goes far beyond the resources currently on the website.
Harrisburg can boast of many excellent histories already in publication, including several on its African American history, but the two volumes of The Year of Jubilee fill a vital spot on that book shelf because they enrich that local history collection by adding the full and detailed history of Harrisburg's black community. It is a long and proud history, and it is equally dramatic, emotional and inspiring. I simply felt people needed to see this side of Harrisburg history.
18 September 2010
I am quite happy with the publishing experience using CreateSpace. The Year of Jubilee, Volume One: Men of God, has been listed with Amazon for about one week now and is selling. Volume Two: Men of Muscle, will be available at the publisher is a few days, and with Amazon a few days later.
To recap each, the first volume covers the history of Harrisburg's black community from the colonial era through the end of the 1840s. The book describes in detail the institution of slavery in Pennsylvania, the laws and social mores that governed it, and the relationships between slaveholders and slaves in Pennsylvania. From that background information, if moves on to the development of a free black community in and around Harrisburg, and details the rise of that community from a few free black households to a complete community of hundreds of people, businesses, churches and social institutions. Volume one concludes with the actions and political processes of that community as it opposed slavery in its own area, and made valuable connections with blacks in neighboring cities and states.
Volume two begins by describing the political and social pressures exerted by the forces of slavery in opposition to the growing abolition movement in Pennsylvania. The decade of the 1850s, with all its bloodshed, horror, and violence, is extensively documented, as it shaped the outlook of all the residents of central Pennsylvania, black and white. Events that changed the nation, from the Federal Fugitive Slave Law to Harpers Ferry, all had causes that reached back into central Pennsylvania. Included are many little-known stories, such as the kidnapping of the Parker sisters, the William Smith murder, and the plots to launch commando-style rescue operations for some of the Harpers Ferry raiders directly from Harrisburg. This volume concludes with the invasion of Pennsylvania by the Army of Northern Virgnia, and the resulting influx of an army of refugees, both black and white, into Harrisburg. How Harrisburg's black community responded to this crisis is the climax of the story.
The easiest way to obtain a copy at this time is from Amazon. LInk is below. I hope to have copies in a few local bookstores. Civil War and More, in Mechanicsburg, has already expressed an interest in carrying both volumes.
6 September 2010
The Year of Jubilee is at publisher!
The Afrolumens book, titled The Year of Jubilee, is now at the publisher and should be available shortly. Due to size, it had to be split into two volumes, so volume one will cover Harrisburg African American history through about 1849, and volume two will cover 1850 through June 1863. Cost of each volume will be $29.95. I will release a link to its availability in a few days.
Volume one is subtitled Men of God, and volume two is subtitled Men of Muscle. Each volume is well over 600 pages, making this a very comprehensive history. I am very excited about the process and the progress. Stay tuned!
24 August 2010
The Year of Jubilee book has been cleared for distribution to major ebook retailers, and should be available from the Apple store in about two weeks. It will be listed in the catalog of other major retailers shortly thereafter. This is a great chance to pick up a copy at a bargain price. A print edition is planned, but due to the size, it will probably need to be split into two volumes. Knowing the price of history books lately, this could make obtaining the printed version somewhat expensive.
I have been invited to accompany Harrisburg historian James E. Schmick as a co-tour guide on September 12th in tours of the Harrisburg Cemetery. The Camp Curtin Historical Society and Civil War Round Table is hosting tours of this very historic cemetery that day, and Jim invited me to add some African American history notes to his tour. Jim will be providing the main tour and I will supplement with some very interesting side notes. Join us!
17 August 2010
I am very happy to announce that the Afrolumens Project book is in release as an ebook at Smashwords.com. The title is The Year of Jubilee, and it tells the story of the development of Harrisburg's African American community. The book utilizes much of the content of the Afrolumens Project site and is the most complete and detailed account of Harrisburg African American history from the colonial era through the Civil War.
Topics covered in the book include Hercules and the first slaves, the growth of slavery in central Pennsylvania, the Harrisburg area slave plantations, early runaway slaves, early free black residents, the establishment of a free black community in Harrisburg, the first black entrepreneurs, the early black churches, the first black neighborhoods, and the maturing of social institutions.
Later chapters look at the Pennsylvania and federal laws governing slave ownership and the recovery of runaway slaves, the growth of colonialism, anti-colonialism, anti-slavery, abolitionism and radical abolitionism. The book describes the complex relationship between Harrisburg's black and white abolitionists, details the efforts and activities of each group as they worked separately at first, then learned to cooperate in fighting against slavery, and covers the role that each played in the shadowy and fast-changing world of the Underground Railroad.
The book concludes with the invasion of Pennsylvania by the battle-hardened troops of the Army of Northern Virginia, in June 1863, and the reactions of the local African American population to that cataclysmic event. It is a book filled with heroes, heroines and villains, murderers, kidnappers, and victims, courtroom drama and secret plots. It places Harrisburg, Carlisle, York and Lancaster in the middle of some of the most dramatic events of the antebellum era involving high treason, street riots, sensational kidnappings and the potential for one final climactic battle that could forever change the lives of everyone in the capital city and possibly the entire North. Did I mention that this is a non-fiction history? (over one thousand chapter notes!) Get it at Smashwords now for only $7.99.
8 August 2010
You'll notice that I have begun a site redesign. This page reflects the new look, as do the new home pages for the major sections. In addition to the updated image, I am continuing to de-empahasize the post Civil War content, in an effort to reinforce the site's new (as of the beginning of 2009) focus on local colonial, antebellum and Civil War history. As stated elsewhere, the late nineteenth and all twentieth century material will still be available through an archive page, but it will not be supported. This simply means I won't be adding additional material to that area, and won't be publishing related letters and inquiries.
Still no publisher for the book. I am waiting for a reply from one publisher, and am looking into other options if that one yields no results.
2 July 2010
The Afrolumens book is finished! The working title is "The Year of Jubilee," and it tells the story of the development of Harrisburg's African American community from the colonial era through June 1863. I'm excited to be done writing, and am currently editing the manuscript while I search for a publisher. Stay tuned.
4 October 2009
Unfortunately it appears that the Google Friend Connect app that I integrated into the website is no longer amply supported by Google. In addition, it is almost unbelievably disfunctional. For those who took the time to "join" the site, thank you. I appreciate your support, even though your action did not return any direct benefits. I hear Google is working on a replacement app that will address all of the problems that made Friend Connect so wimpy and bug-ridden. Despite the disappointment, I am still a fan of Google apps. As you may have noted, I dropped the old email address and went to a gmail account, and it works quite well. I will probably give the new replacement for Friend Connect a try, when it debuts.
Site Content: I have not added a lot of site content lately, as I am diligently working on the last few chapters of the Afrolumens Project book. The good news is that, in doing research for the book, I have accumulated a mountain of data from old newspaper articles, diaries, documents and other primary and reliable secondary sources, much of which will make its way to the website sometime in 2010.
10 January 2009
Afrolumens is back. After a fifteen month absence from the web, I decided to repost the site with an eye toward a total makover. You will find almost all of the old data intact, with very little material deleted. In fact I added new material and made corrections to some of the old material while the site was down. There are some bugs to fix--mostly broken links--but I expect to have everything running smoothly very soon.
The new emphasis will be on Harrisburg area antebellum and Civil War history. During my sabbatical from web publishing I found a lot of new resources and a renewed personal interest in local Underground Railroad and anti-slavery history. In my research, I also made numerous connections between Harrisburg and areas well beyond the local region, which means you will soon see more items and articles relating to Maryland, Delaware, New York and even Louisiana. I'm excited about the changes and hope you will continue to find this site useful in your own research. I also want to offer my thanks to those who encouraged me to repost the site. Read a more complete essay on our new emphasis, here.