Sally E. Svenson’s new book Blacks in the Adirondacks: A History (Syracuse University Press, 2017) tells the story of the many African Americans who settled in or passed through this rural, mountainous region.
In the Adirondacks for a variety of reasons, some were lifetime residents, while others were there for a few years or months ― as summer employees, tuberculosis patients, or in connection with full- or part-time occupations in railroading, the performing arts, and baseball.
From African-Americans who settled on land gifted to them by Gerrit Smith, a prosperous landowner and fervent abolitionist, to those who worked as waiters in resort hotels, Svenson chronicles their rich and varied experiences, with an emphasis on the 100 years between 1850 and 1950.
Many experienced racism and isolation in their separation from larger black populations; some found a sense of community in the scattered black settlements of the region. Svenson gives voice to the many African Americans who spent time in the Adirondacks and sheds light on their challenges and successes in this remote region.
Sally Svenson is a New York-based writer whose articles about nineteenth century American figures from wilderness missionaries to Civil War veterans have appeared in various journals. She is also the author of Adirondack Churches: A History of Design and Building (2007) and Lily, Duchess of Marlborough (1854-1909): A Portrait with Husbands (2011).
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