Drought and Rain – Environmentalism 1866

On this subject the Boston Journal makes the following interesting remarks:

It seems to have been ascertained historically, that in countries like France, Italy, Spain, and Palestine, which have been largely cleared of woods, the annual fall of rain is less now than it was formerly. On the other hand, extensive tree planting in Egypt and Scotland have been followed by more rain yearly than was previously known in those sections.

These are certainly curious results if truly reported. They are attributed in part to the attraction of upright masses of trees for the rain clouds and to other influences not well understood. But however this may be, it is clear to the common sense of every observing man, that a country abounding in woods will retain its average fall of rain longer, and turn it to better account, than a country that is bare. In the latter the wind has a clean sweep over the whole surface, drying up and baking the soil, exhausting the springs and water courses. When the snow melts in the spring , or heavy rains fall, there is nothing to detain the water, but rushes off in sudden, destructive freshets, gullying the land and bearing away its richness.


Comments Off on Drought and Rain – Environmentalism 1866

The Instruction of Slaves in Alabama

This brief overview of literacy among slaves of Alabama appears in the chapter titled History of Public Education in Alabama in the volume History of Clarke County by John Simpson Graham in our American County Histories: Southeastern States.

The Instruction of Slaves

Historical writers have given little or no concern to negro education in slave times. Presumably this want of concern has been due to the assumption that there was no such thing as the instruction of slaves, but as a matter of fact there was (see See C. G. Woodson, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861).

No inconsiderable number of negroes in Alabama came out of slavery with the ability to read and write. At least three causes operated to give to a small proportion of the slave population a modicum of text-book instruction.  These were:

(1) the clandestine efforts of anti-slavery enthusiasts;
(2) the profits accruing to some masters by reason of the ability of their slaves to read, write, and otherwise transact business; and
(3) the kindness of young masters and mistresses in instructing their servants.

There was, moreover, a more or less general feeling that negroes might be permitted to learn to read their Bibles, and what is known as “vocational training” was widespread. But the fear of insurrectionary influence and the spread of abolitionist propaganda led to the legal regulation of slave assemblies and to the creation of the patrol system; and, as the abolitionists became more insistent, the education of slaves, in the case of individuals as well as in assemblies, was prohibited by law.

In making this prohibition, Alabama was neither first nor last among the slave states, but occupied a middle ground; its law was enacted in 1832. These laws generally had the effect of preventing organized effort to instruct the slaves, so that such literacy as negroes possessed when emancipated was of the sort that young masters and mistresses had chosen to give, in disregard of the law, to their favorite servants.

The full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to explore all the publications of a particular county by using a single query. In addition, those wishing to read or browse the text on a page by page basis may do so in the original format merely by scrolling down the screen and then continuing to the next chapter.
Comments Off on The Instruction of Slaves in Alabama
Group of Negro women at revival meeting, La Forge, Missouri

Ladies Should Read Newspapers (1861)

This appeared in an 1861 issue of The Christian Recorder.  It is important to note that this publication was produced and sold primarily within African American society and this issue came out while it was still illegal in some places for black slaves in the south to be taught to read at all.

It is a great mistake in female education to keep a young lady’ s time and attention devoted to only the fashionable literature of the day. If you would qualify her for conversation you must give her something to talk about, give her education with the actual world and its transpiring events.

Urge her to read newspapers and become familiar with the present character and improvements of our race. History is of some importance, but the past world is dead, and we have little comparatively to do with it. Our thoughts and our concerns should be for the present world, to know what it is and improve its condition.

Let her have an intelligent conversation concerning the mental, political, and religious improvements of our time. Let the gilded annuals and poems on the centre table be kept a part of the time covered with journals. Let the family – men, women a children – read the newspapers.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

Source:  The Christian Recorder, May 4, 1861
Image Details:  Group of women at a 1938 revival meeting, La Forge, Missouri (LOC)

Comments Off on Ladies Should Read Newspapers (1861)

Colleen Greene: WordPress for Genealogy

Colleen Greene, MLIS is a librarian, web developer, content strategist, and educator who regularly teaches and presents on web content strategy, social media, digital history tools, and other emerging technology tools and topics. She has a knack for being able to explain complex technology concepts in easy to understand terms.

Colleen Greene

Colleen Greene

She has taken the time to put together a wonderful series of posts on her website that walk bloggers and website operators through exactly how to add Genealogy Snapshots to WordPress based sites. She broke it down into three parts to make it easier to digest.

These posts explain how to do this for almost any website, including Blogger and, but what makes her efforts special is the work she put into teaching readers how to get the most out of a self-hosted WordPress site using plugins and re-useable code.

What makes these guides really stand out is how thorough they are. Colleen makes clear exactly what you should see at each stage of the process and she takes the time to explain her thought processes and why she selected the specific tools and techniques used for this project.

WordPress for Genealogy Guides

If you are using Blogger or other platforms, be sure to check out Colleen’s Blogging for Genealogy: Adding a Lineage Snapshot Box to Ancestor Posts in & Blogger post.

Comments Off on Colleen Greene: WordPress for Genealogy
Frederick Douglass

Problems with New York’s Personal Liberty Bill of 1859

Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. He was editor and publisher of the Frederick Douglass Paper and Douglass’ Monthly.

This commentary appeared in the April 1859 issue of Douglass’ Monthly.

The Personal Liberty Bill

Nearly nine years after the passage by Congress of the Fugitive Slave Bill, nine years of insulting triumph on the part of the South, and shame-faced, puling submission on the part of the North, three of the free States, Vermont,Massachusetts and New York, have been roused by abolition appeals to take op the consideration of the subject whether their soil is their own, and whether their souls are their own, whether the State has eminent domain over the territory thereof, and the right to determine the status of all persons who may be within said territory.

These are grand, stirring questions. The stern Nemesis which watches over our commonwealth,is arousing the public sense to a consciousness of the fact, “for as much as ye did it unto the least of these, ye did it also unto me.” “Poor, and black, and friendless,as were the victims aimed at by the Act of Sept. 18th, 1850, yet that act pierced the heart of State sovereignty, and crushed thefree States beneath the iron heel of slavery.”

Vermont has passed her Liberty Bill, New York has under discussion, and Massachusetts will soon report and pass her Act. We have already printed the Bill now before our State Legislature. It is the same as that of Vermont down to the 6th section; we propose to examine this bill and see whether it be equal to the object it aims to compass.

“Sec. 6. Every person who may have been held as a slave, who shall come, or He brought, or be in this State with the consent of his or her alleged master or mistress, or who shall come or be brought or be in this State, shall be free.”

“Sec. 3. Whenever any person in this State shall be deprived of liberty, arrested or detained,on the ground that such person owes service or labor to another person, NOT AN INHABITANT OF THIS STATE, either party may claim a trial by jury,” &c.


Comments Off on Problems with New York’s Personal Liberty Bill of 1859