A Hammer in Their Hands: A Documentary History of Technology and the African-American Experience (Hardcover)

Carroll W. Pursell



Scholars working at the intersection of African-American history and the history of technology are redefining the idea of technology to include the work of the skilled artisan and the ingenuity of the self-taught inventor. Although denied access through most of American history to many new technologies and to the privileged education of the engineer, African-Americans have been engaged with a range of technologies, as makers and as users, since the colonial era. A Hammer in Their Hands (the title comes from the famous song about John Henry, "the steel-driving man" who beat the steam drill) collects newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements for runaway slaves, letters, folklore, excerpts from biography and fiction, legal patents, protest pamphlets, and other primary sources to document the technological achievements of African-Americans.

Included in this rich and varied collection are a letter from Cotton Mather describing an early method of smallpox inoculation brought from Africa by a slave; selections from Frederick Douglass's autobiography and Uncle Tom's Cabin; the Confederate Patent Act, which barred slaves from holding patents; articles from 1904 by Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois, debating the issue of industrial education for African-Americans; a 1924 article from Negro World, "Automobiles and Jim Crow Regulations"; a photograph of an all-black World War II combat squadron; and a 1998 presidential executive order on environmental justice. A Hammer in Their Hands and its companion volume of essays, Technology and the African-American Experience (MIT Press, 2004) will be essential references in an emerging area of study.

Carroll Pursell is Adjunct Professor of Modern History at Macquarie University, Australia.


Table of Contents:

Introduction xi
I Colonial Era 1
1 African Medicine in the New World 3
Cotton Mather on Smallpox Inoculation (1716) 5
An Account of the Method and Success of Inoculating the Small-Pox in Boston (1722) 6
2 New World Skills 7
Runaway Slave Advertisements 9
A Profile of Runaway Slaves in Virginia and South Carolina from 1730 through 1787
Lathan Algerna Windley
Advertisement for a Fugitive Slave (1769)
Thomas Jefferson
Letter from Benjamin Banneker to the Secretary of State, with His Answer (1792)
Benjamin Banneker and Thomas Jefferson
II Antebellum Years 21
3 The Persistence of Craft 23
Advertisements for Runaway Slaves in Virginia, 1801-1820
Daniel Meaders
Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1882)
Frederick Douglass
The Fugitive Blacksmith; or, Events in the History of James W, C. Pennington 37
Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)
Harriet Beecher Stowe
A Journey in the Slave States (1856) and A Journey in the Back Country (1861)
Frederick Law Olmsted
His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker, Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad
John P. Parker
Layout of Parker's Phoenix Foundry (1884) 54
U.S. Patent to John Percial Parker for a Soil-Pulverizer (1890) 55
Tending a Cotton Gin (1853) 58
4 The New Industrial Age 59
Notes on North America, Agricultural, Economical, and Social (1851)
James F. W. Johnston
Scenes from Oak Lawn, Lousiana Plantation (1864) 64
Slave Labor as Reported in Nile's Weekly Register (1849) and DeBow's Southern and Western Review (1851) 66
The History of the First Locomotives in America (1874)
William H. Brown
Advertisement in The Liberator Seeking Colored Inventors (1834) 74
U.S. Patent to Norbert Rillieux for an "Improvement in Sugar-Works" (1843) 75
U.S. Patent to Norbert Rillieux for an "Improvement in Sugar-Making" (1846) 87
The Confederate Patent Act (1861) 89
III War, Reconstruction, and Segregation 91
5 Finding a Place in the Industrial Age 93
Mechanism and Art (1873) 95
Using Jokes to Invent the Expert 97
John Henry, The Steel Driving Man (1929) 98
The Eclipse Clothes Wringer (c. 1880s) 100
Woman with Bicycle (c. 1890s) 101
The Taint of the Bicycle (1902)
W. F. Fonvielle
IV The Progressive Era 107
6 Training for the Industrial Age 109
Comments on the Advisibility of Instructing Engineering Students in the History of the Engineering Profession (1903)
L. S. Randolph
Industrial Education; Will It Solve the Negro Problem, II (1904)
Booker T. Washington
The Training of Negroes for Social Power (1904)
W. E. B. DuBois
Industrial Education--Will It Solve the Negro Problem (1904)
Fannie Barrier
Working with the Hands (1904)
Booker T. Washington
How Electricity is Taught at Tuskegee (1904)
Charles W. Pierce
Racial Progress as Reported in The Colored American Magazine (1902) 142
The American Negro Artisan (1904)
Thomas J. Calloway
Results of Some Hard Experiences: A Plain Talk to Young Men (1902)
William H. Dorkins
Manufacturing Household Articles (1904)
Samuel R. Scottron
The Career of Mechanic John G. Howard (1902) 161
7 Inventors 163
The Colored Inventor: A Record of Fifty Years (1913)
Henry E. Baker
Clara Frye, A Woman Inventor (1907) 172
U.S. Patent to Garret A. Morgan for a "Breathing Device" (1914) 174
V Between the World Wars 179
8 The Rural South 181
You May Plow Here: The Narrative of Sara Brooks
Sara Brooks
Cotton Picking Machines and Southern Agriculture 189
We (1927)
Charles Lindbergh
9 Industrial Employment 193
Tuskegee Ideals in Industrial Education (1926)
Joseph L. Whiting
Women at Work: A Century of Industrial Change (1934) 199
The Typewriter (1926)
Dorothy West
10 The Automobile 209
Automobiles and Jim Crow Regulations (1924) 211
Through the Windshield (1933)
Alfred Edgar Smith
Running the Red Light (Tilman C. Cothran) 216
U.S. Patent to G. A. Morgan for a "Traffic Signal" (1923) 217
VI World War II and the Cold War 221
11 Learning to Fly 223
Soaring above Setbacks: The Autobiography of Janet Harmon Bragg, African American Aviator
Janet Harmon Bragg
Coffey School of Aeronautics (1944) and 99th Pursuit Squadron, Air Unit (1942) 226
Lt. Clarence "Lucky" Lester 229
12 War Work 231
Negro Workers and the National Defense Program (1942) 233
A Black Woman at Work in a Wartime Airplane Assembly Plant 245
Graduate Technicians and National Technical Association (1944) 246
Defense and Wartime Employment (1946-1947) 248
Bay Area Council against Discrimination, San Francisco (1942) 252
13 After the War 255
Elm City, A Negro Community in Action (1945)
C. L. Spellman
Mechanization in Agriculture (1941-1946) 260
The Negro in the Aerospace Industry (1968)
Herbert R. Northrup
VII The Movement and Beyond 277
14 Setting a Political Agenda 279
Revolution in a Technological Society (1971)
Samuel D. Proctor
15 Ties to Africa 289
Mickey Leland and the USAID Bureau for Africa 291
Solar Cooking Demonstration in Akwasiho Village, Ghana
Hattie Carwell
16 Engineering Careers 301
Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 303
History of the National Society of Black Engineers (1997)
Jerry Good
Black Women Engineers and Technologists
Valerie L. Thomas
Careers in Science and Technology (1993) 330
17 Accessing the Information Age 339
Bridging the Racial Divide on the Internet (1998)
Donna L. Hoffman and Thomas P. Novak
Cyberghetto: Blacks Are Falling through the Net (1998)
Frederick L. McKissack, Jr.
Troubletown (1998) 352
The Black Technological Entrepreneur (1999)
Janet Stites
18 Technological Troubles 357
A Place at the Table: A Sierra Roundtable on Race, Justice, and the Environment, and The Letter That Shook a Movement (1993) 359
Neighbors Rally to Fight Proposed Waste-Burner (1992) 371
United States to Weigh Blacks' Complaints about Pollution (1993) 374
Presidential Executive Order 12898--Environmental Justice 377
Study Attacks "Environmental Justice" (1994) 380
New York Seminarian Promotes Environmental Justice in Africa (1996)
Paulette V. Walker
Further Readings 385
Index 387



I. 殖民時代
1. 新大陸的非洲醫學
2. 奴隸時代的技術
3. 南北戰爭時期的技術
4. 重建時期的技術
5. 20世紀初的技術
6. 20世紀中期的技術
7. 20世紀末的技術
8. 21世紀的技術