Cover image for Hard labor : the first African Americans, 1619
Hard labor : the first African Americans, 1619
McKissack, Pat, 1944-2017.
Personal Author:
First Aladdin Library edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Aladdin, [2004]

Physical Description:
xi, 68 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.8 1.0 75829.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E446 .M35 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Black History

On Order



The award-winning mother-son writing team tells the story of 20 African Americans who arrived in Virginia in 1619 as indentured servants, ready to serve out their sentence before beginning life anew in a new land. Illustrations.

Author Notes

Patricia C. McKissack was born in Smyrna, Tennessee on August 9, 1944. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Tennessee State University in 1964 and a master's degree in early childhood literature and media programming from Webster University in 1975. After college, she worked as a junior high school English teacher and a children's book editor at Concordia Publishing.

Since the 1980's, she and her husband Frederick L. McKissack have written over 100 books together. Most of their titles are biographies with a strong focus on African-American themes for young readers. Their early 1990s biography series, Great African Americans included volumes on Frederick Douglass, Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson. Their other works included Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers and Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States. Over their 30 years of writing together, the couple won many awards including the C.S. Lewis Silver Medal, a Newbery Honor, nine Coretta Scott King Author and Honor awards, the Jane Addams Peace Award, and the NAACP Image Award for Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman?. In 1998, they received the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

She also writes fiction on her own. Her book included Flossie and the Fox, Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt, A Friendship for Today, and Let's Clap, Jump, Sing and Shout; Dance, Spin and Turn It Out! She won the Newberry Honor Book Award and the King Author Award for The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural in 1993 and the Caldecott Medal for Mirandy and Brother Wind. She dead of cardio-respiratory arrest on April 7, 2017 at the age of 72.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-8. The McKissacks take on a difficult and disturbing subject in this small history in the Milestone Books series, an account of the very first Africans who came to this country in the early seventeenth century: who they were, why they came, and what happened to them and their descendants. It is clear throughout how difficult it is to know what really happened ("probably" is a frequent qualifier in the text), but that's all part of the important story, "the facts blurred by centuries of neglect." What is known is that the first black citizens were not slaves, but indentured servants, like many whites. One fascinating chapter focuses on Anthonyohnson, who married a black woman and raised a free, successful family. But then racism became the law, and made only the blacks permanent slaves. The type is big and clear, with occasional black-and-white illustrations, but middle-graders will need adult help with the sweeping history, which includes an overview of slavery around the world. There's a useful list of "Virtual Visits" to four Web sites, including one on Anthonyohnson. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2004 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-The authors begin with an overview of slavery, and the informative text dispels misconceptions about the arrival of Africans in the New World. The text explains that they came not only as slaves but also as indentured servants, that they owned land and servants, accompanied European explorers and conquistadors, and were instrumental in settling North America. Full-page, black-and-white illustrations support the narrative. The research is not supported by a bibliography or source notes, and the lack of a table of contents and index makes it difficult for students to find specific facts. Barring these shortcomings, this well-written offering will stimulate interest and spark discussions.-Tracy Bell, Durham Public Schools, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.