Cover image for The WPA history of the Negro in Pittsburgh
The WPA history of the Negro in Pittsburgh
Glasco, Laurence Admiral.
Publication Information:
Pittsburgh : University of Pittsburgh Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
vii, 422 pages : maps ; 25 cm
General Note:
First publication of the unfinished manuscript "The Negro in Pittsburgh" produced by the Federal Writer's Project in Pennsylvania.

"A John D.S. and Aida C. Truxall book."
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F159.P69 N495 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The monumental American Guide Series , published by the Federal Writers' Project, provided work to thousands of unemployed writers, editors, and researchers in the midst of the Great Depression. Featuring books on states, cities, rivers, and ethnic groups, it also opened an unprecedented view into the lives of the American people during this time. Untold numbers of projects in progress were lost when the program was abruptly shut down by a hostile Congress in 1939.

One of those, "The Negro in Pittsburgh," lay dormant in the Pennsylvania State Library until it was microfilmed in 1970. The WPA History of the Negro in Pittsburgh marks the first publication of this rich body of information. This unique historical study of the city's black population features articles on civil rights, social class, lifestyle, culture, folklore, and institutions from colonial times through the 1930s.

Author Notes

Laurence A. Glasco is the author of Ethnicity and Social Structure: Irish, Germans, and Native-Born of Buffalo, N.Y., 1850-1860 and the coauthor of Legacy in Bricks and Mortar: African American Landmarks in Allegheny County

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) collected a wealth of information during the 1930s. Interviews with former slaves, members of the Five Civilized Tribes, and southern sharecroppers and mill workers provide a rich resource for researchers. Others involved in the project located records for the National Archives and surveyed the state of local governmental and historical records. Still others compiled information about communities and groups for publication. This volume represents an effort to research and write a history of the African American experience in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When the WPA ended in 1939, an unfinished document, "The Negro in Pittsburgh," sat ignored in the Pennsylvania State Library. Although rediscovered and microfilmed in 1970, the document slipped back into obscurity. Historian Glasco (Univ. of Pittsburgh) has rescued the material, providing a fascinating glimpse into the world of black Pittsburgh. Topics include antebellum migration and settlement, civil rights, education, politics, arts, community growth and development, and work. Readers can also find reprinted documents that are difficult to find elsewhere. While much work remains to be done to explore the African American experience in Pittsburgh, this volume provides readers with information as well as an opportunity to reenter another time and place. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. P. Melvin Loyola University in Chicago

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. VII
Introduction to the Published Volumep. 1
Original Table of Contentsp. 19
Chapter 1. The Shadow of the Plantationp. 21
Chapter 2. The Negro on the Frontierp. 35
Chapter 3. The Early Community, 1804-1860p. 53
Chapter 4. Abolition Yearsp. 100
Chapter 5. Civil Rightsp. 168
Chapter 6. The Negro Wage Workerp. 216
Chapter 7. Church, School and Pressp. 230
Chapter 8. The Later Communityp. 250
Chapter 12. Folkwaysp. 259
Chapter 13. Arts and Culturep. 293
Chapter 14. The People Speakp. 334
Appendix 1. Memorial of Pittsburgh's Free Citizens of Color, 1837p. 361
Appendix 2. Lewis Woodson's "Birthday Memorandum" of 1856p. 368
Appendix 3. Two Poems by George B. Vashon: "Vincent Oge" and "A Life Day"p. 369
Appendix 4. Transcriptions of Selected Newspaper Itemsp. 383
Appendix 5. Bibliographyp. 398
Appendix 6. List of Microfilmed Materialsp. 407
African American Migration Routes to Pittsburgh, 1760-1860p. 409
Underground Railroad Routes in Western Pennsylvaniap. 410
Pittsburgh Downtown, Hill District, and Allegheny City (North Side), ca. 1850p. 411
Pittsburgh Neighborhoods and Settlements, 1865p. 412
Indexp. 413