African Americana in the North Carolina Collection

“We stand on the shoulders of giants.” This sentiment has been expressed so many times that it is now a cliche, but it is a phrase that comes to mind when I look through the out-of-print book catalogs that cross my desk. I felt this most recently when I studied the latest list of African Americana from Bibliomania, a California book dealer.

I expected the North Carolina Collection to have The Literary Career of Charles W. Chesnutt by William Andrews (Louisiana State University Press, 1980), but it was a happy surprise to find that we have two more obscure titles offered by Bibliomania. The Silent Murder, by Mildred Evelyn Miller (Exposition Press, 1977) is a novel set in North Carolina that follows the struggles of a good woman whose life is scarred by the alcoholism of her husbands. William H. Frazer’s The Possumist and Other Stories (Murrill Press, 1924) is an example of a type of literature that many people are no longer comfortable with: dialect stories written by a white author that purport to offer an accurate view of African American speech and thought. Good, bad, sad, scholarly–all of these books have their place in the North Carolina Collection as examples of the cultural heritage of this state in the twentieth century.

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