From the colonial period onward, African American craftspeople in Southern cities played vital roles in their communities. Thousands of free and enslaved blacks worked as carpenters, coopers, dressmakers, blacksmiths, shoemakers, bricklayers, shipwrights, cabinetmakers and tailors. Yet only a very few have gained attention.
Historian Catherine W. Bishir offers an in-depth portrayal of the African American artisans in the port town of New Bern in “Crafting Lives.” Bishir brings to life the men and women who employed their trade skills and community relationships to work for liberty and self-sufficiency, to establish and protect their families, and to assume leadership in churches, associations and in New Bern’s dynamic political life during and after the Civil War. Hardcover, 392 pages with seven maps, $24.95; e-book $19.95. 800-848-6224 or uncpress.unc.edu.