Black Craftspeople Syllabus

The Black Craftspeople Syllabus contains a list of readings that provide essential information about the history of the black crafts tradition. These readings highlight the lives of Black craftspeople while placing their lives within the context of race relations in this country. Additionally, these readings provide insight into themes of identity, artistry, and Black resistance.


Readings on Black Craftsmanship

John Michael Vlach, The Afro-American Tradition in Decorative Arts (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990) 

John Michael Vlach, By The Work of Their Hand: Studies in Afro-American Folklife (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1992)

John Michael Vlach, Charleston Blacksmith: The Work of Philip Simmons (Columbia, S.C: University of South Carolina Press, 1992)

Leonard Todd, Carolina Clay: The Life and Legend of the Slave Potter Dave (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2008)

Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll, Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010)

Cinda K. Balwin, “The African-American Presence in the Edgefield District Stoneware Tradition.” In Great & Noble Jar: Traditional Stoneware of South Carolina (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993): 71-90 

Dale Rosengarten, Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art (New York: Museum of African Art, 2008)

Gladys-Marie Fry, Stitched from the Soul: Slave Quilts from the Antebellum South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002)

Frederick C. Knight, “Slave Artisans: Black Nonagricultural Workers in Colonial America and the Antebellum South,” In Working the Diaspora: The Impact of African Labor on the Anglo-American World, 1650-1850 (New York: NYU Press, 2010): 111-129

Philip S. Foner and Ronald L. Lewis, eds., Black Workers: A Documentary History from Colonial Times to the Present (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989)

W. E. B. Du Bois, The Negro Artisan (Atlanta: Atlanta University Press, 1902)

Readings on South Carolina

Bernard E. Powers, Black Charlestonians: A Social History, 1822-1885 (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994)

Peter H. Wood, Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina: From 1670 through the Stono Rebellion (New York: Norton, 1996)

Emma Hart, Building Charleston: Town and Society in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic World (Columbia, South Carolina: The University of South Carolina Press, 2015)

Robert Olwell, Masters, Slaves & Subjects: The Culture of Power in the South Carolina Low Country, 1740-1790 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998)

Judith A. Carney, Black Gold: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001)

 Stephanie McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995)

 Philip Morgan, ed. African American Life in the Georgia Lowcountry: The Atlantic World and the Gullah Geechee (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010)