Depression-era textbook printed for use in Black elementary schools in the segregated South, with provenance from a school in South Carolina.
IDEALS AND ADVENTURES
"Boys and girls, this book was written to help you learn more about the Negroes of America. In it you will read of Negroes who have been successful in many kinds of work. You will read of boys and girls, like yourselves..."
A volume from the scarce Negro American Series issued by the Harlow Publishing Corporation in Oklahoma specifically for African American students, written by a white teacher. The series stands out among most white publications of the era in its approach to Black history. "The Negro American Series cut against prevailing stereotypes in textual theme and content," notes Louise S. Robbins. Rather than falling into racist stereotypes, the books appealing instead to respectability politics. They actively encouraged Black pride by depicting accomplished historical figures (this volume includes Benjamin Banneker, Crispus Attucks, and Mary McLeod Bethune) and well-behaved, engaged, and intelligent young students. In IDEALS AND ADVENTURES, readers are first introduced to two model students who serve as guides through the textbook. It is divided into thematic chapters, structured around dialogues with the inquisitive and thoughtful children. A complex cultural artifact, with white authorship and publishing power behind a Black pride message in the era of Jim Crow.
Read more: Robbins, "Publishing Pride: The Jim Crow Series of Harlow Publishing Company," in Defining Print Culture for Youth: The Cultural Work of Children's Literature.
Oklahoma City: Harlow Publishing Corporation, 1939. 7.25'' x 5.25''. Original green pictorial cloth stamped in black. Illustrated throughout with photographic halftones and small silhouettes. Dictionary at rear. , 252 pages. Anderson [South Carolina] County Board of Education circulating library bookplate on front pastedown, around which are a number of names in a child's script; one of the names, Annie Low Ellington, repeated on second fly leaf in pencil in adult cursive script. Binding shaken and somewhat soiled, with foxing to endpapers and light toning to text block, a few thumbmarks.
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