Want a closer look at African American life after emancipation? The State Library of North Carolina has a new online tool.
The library recently posted the full 444-page book, “An Era of Progress and Promise,” written in 1910 by W.N. Hartshorn.
The book opens with the closing words of President Lincoln’s second inaugural address and closes with a short profile of Frederick D. Paterson of Greenfield, Ohio, whose father “was a man of usefulness and influence in the community, and, by reason of his mechanical skill, enjoyed opportunities not usually accorded thirty years or more ago
to one of his race.”
Pages in between offer profiles of individuals and institutions, such as Charlotte’s Biddle University, which became Johnson C. Smith University; and Bishop George Clinton, a Charlotte AME Zion preacher whose article “Greatest Needs of the Negro Race” is included in the book.
From 1901 to 1908, Hartshorn convened what was known as the Clifton Conference to discuss the educational and religious opportunities available to African Americans, according to the library’s website. “An Era of Progress and Promise” is a culmination of his findings.
Visitors to the website can read the full text online or search for profiles of specific people or institutions.
The state library first posted excerpts from the book in February 2004 as part of its Black History Month celebration. That original website was limited to 97 biographies and 36 institutions specific to North Carolina, Christy Allen, the library’s digitization projects manager, told Qcitymetro.com. But newly purchased software made it easier to scan the entire book to create a searchable database. The process took about two weeks.
Allen said the library chose Hartshorn’s book because of popular demand.
“The book is kind of rare, and not a lot of libraries have it,” she said.
The N.C. library is one of only five in the state and 79 nationwide to own a copy, Allen said.
Another reason for putting it online, she said, was to preserve the library’s hard copy, which has become fragile with time.
For those interested only in N.C. history, a link to the original site is still available.