Historians and other scholars often use first-hand accounts, including contemporary observations, as sources for study of the past. These types of sources are valuable, especially when used in conjunction with other documents, as they help us to approximate the past. This study uses these types of sources to attain glimpses of African American life in the post-emancipation South. Spanning from the 1860s through the New Deal, this study incorporates a broad cross-section of the views of European travelers and Euro-American visitors from the North, based upon travel books as well as articles and essays from periodicals and scholarly journals. The study synthesizes the outsiders' observations and assesses their summaries' overall validity for increasing our understanding of the lives of blacks in the post-emancipation South. Furthermore, these accounts allow for a reconstruction of African American life and labor in the major aspects of black culture--religion, education, politics, criminal justice, employment and entrepreneurship, social life and status--of the times. The work is constructed in the context of contemporary anthropology, ethnography, psychology, and sociology.
Here are gems of scholarship---about the opportunity for blacks to earn a dollar---so bright that the surrounding scholarly landscape of education, religion, politics, and more is inescapably and subtly informed. Viewed from the vantage ground of the twenty-first century, racism, continually unearthed by Hornsby, underscores, as no recent book has, the uphill climb of blacks.--Sterling Stuckey, distinguished professor emeritus of history, University of California, Riverside