African American Studies

Download Angels of Mercy: White Women and the History of New York's by William Seraile PDF

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By William Seraile

William Seraile uncovers the background of the coloured orphan asylum, based in ny urban in 1836 because the nation's first orphanage for African American little ones. it's a amazing establishment that continues to be within the vanguard helping young children. even supposing now not an orphanage, in its present incarnation as Harlem-Dowling West facet middle for kids and family members companies it keeps the foundations of the ladies who prepared it approximately 2 hundred years ago.

The service provider weathered three wars, significant monetary panics, a devastating fireplace through the 1863 Draft Riots, a number of epidemics, waves of racial prejudice, and critical monetary problems to deal with orphaned, overlooked, and antisocial kids. finally monetary aid could come from a few of New York's best households, together with the Jays, Murrays, Roosevelts, Macys, and Astors.While the white woman managers and their male advisers have been devoted to uplifting those black childrens, the evangelical, usually Quaker founding managers additionally exhibited the extraordinary paternalistic perspectives endemic on the time, accepting the recommendation or aid of the African American group simply grudgingly. It was once frank feedback in 1913 from W. E. B. Du Bois that highlighted the clash among the orphanage and the group it served, and it wasn't until eventually 1939 that it employed the 1st black trustee.

More than 15,000 young ones have been raised within the orphanage, and all through its historical past letters and visits have published that thousands if now not millions of previous boys and girlslooked again with admiration and admire on the domestic that nurtured them all through their formative years.

Weaving jointly African American historical past with a special historical past of latest York urban, this isn't in basic terms a painstaking research of a formerly unsung establishment of black history yet a distinct window onto advanced racial dynamics in the course of a interval whilst many didn't realize equality between all electorate as a important function.

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Extra info for Angels of Mercy: White Women and the History of New York's Colored Orphan Asylum (Empire State Editions)

Example text

I thank you for the kind attention given me. . To you I owe all that I am now, and [I plan] to act as a light of the institution. . It is with pride that I couple my name with the institution, and it shall be my care to bring no reproach, but . . ’’ William Isaac, whom George was indentured to in 42 | f if th av en ue : g ro wt h a nd pr og re ss , 1 84 3– 54 1848, considered him a mechanical genius. Frank became a successful barber and hairdresser. He informed Superintendent Davis by letter on November 29, 1861, that he had shaved men and dressed hair for three months and was ready to cut hair.

William Neal entered the COA in January 1876 as an eight-year-old orphan; he was ‘‘delivered to friends’’ on October 5, 1877, but adopted at age twelve by a colored family in Middletown, New York. For unstated reasons, he set fire to a hardware store, only a few days after setting fire to a barn. His vicious acts sent him to the House of Refuge. Fifteen-year-old George W. Greene was indentured to A. J. Duncan, who wrote on August 3, 1881, that the f if th av en ue : g ro wt h a nd pr og re ss , 1 84 3– 54 | 47 teenager set fire to the barn; the conflagration killed horses and destroyed hay and grain, at a loss of four thousand dollars.

This was an amazing gesture, which, unfortunately, the young boy did not or was not able to appreciate. He returned home for unknown reasons, but his age (over twelve) prohibited him from remaining in the asylum. He soon became a thief and a drifter. 18 Often, the young children did not realize how fortunate they were to be living in the Colored Orphan Asylum. Those who entered as infants were sheltered from the ills of poverty, food of poor quality and limited quantity, filth, and crime that hindered so many children of both races.

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