In Black Chicago's First Century, Christopher Robert Reed provides the first comprehensive study of the first one hundred years of African American settlement and achievements in the Windy City. Encompassing a range of activities and events, Volume 1 of this pioneering work spans the antebellum, Civil War, Reconstruction, and post-Reconstruction periods. Reed takes us from a time when black Chicago provided both workers and soldiers for the Union cause to the ensuing decades that saw the rise and development of a stratified class structure and growth in employment, politics, and culture. Just as the city was transformed in its first century of existence, so were its black inhabitants. With the use of the federal pension records of Civil War soldiers at the National Archives, as well as previously neglected photographic evidence, manuscripts, contemporary newspapers, and secondary sources, Reed captures the lives of ordinary black men and women. He places black Chicagoans within the context of rthern urban history, providing a better understanding of the similarities and differences among them. We learn of the conditions African Americans faced before and after emancipation. We learn how the black community changed and developed: we learn how these people endured - how they educated their children, how they worked and played. Black Chicago's First Century is a balanced and coherent work. Anyone with an interest in urban history or African American studies will find much value in this book.
Christopher Robert Reed, Professor of History at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois, has spent much of his life in Chicago. He is the author of All the World Is Here : The Black Presence at White City and The Chicago NAACP and the Rise of Black Professional Leadership, 1910-1966.