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Charles Orson Cook

one of the most prolific white scholars of African American history in the twentieth century. Herbert Aptheker was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915 and was educated at Columbia University in the 1930s, where he took an undergraduate degree in geology and an MA and a PhD in history. His first important publication, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), was based on his doctoral dissertation and challenged the prevailing wisdom that slaves were largely passive victims of white masters. In part an outgrowth of Aptheker's master's thesis on Nat Turner, American Negro Slave Revolts immediately became a controversial work and has remained so since. He was befriended by the influential African American historian Carter G. Woodson and the legendary black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, both of whom encouraged his interest in Negro history. Aptheker's other writings include a seven-volume Documentary History of the Negro People ...

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Lesley S. Curtis

from a prominent Haitian family of both European and African ancestry. Céligny’s date of birth is listed as 1801 on a birth certificate filed in 1805, which has created some confusion as to his real age. His father was Alexis Antoine Ardouin and his mother was Lolotte Félix Galez. Birth certificates of his younger siblings reveal that he grew up in close contact with his father, his father’s wife, Suzanne Léger Ardouin, and their seven children, including the famous historian Beaubrun Ardouin and the poet Corolian Ardouin. Céligny married Marie Angélique Liautaud in 1823 and had six children.

Céligny’s most significant work, Essais sur l’histoire d’Haïti (Essays on the History of Haiti) was written and published in sections in the late 1830s. It appeared as a revised collection in 1841, but was only published in its entirety in 1865 sixteen years after the author s death Beaubrun ...

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Jeremy D. Popkin

an ambitious free man of color in the French colony of Saint-Domingue at the time of the Haitian Revolution, played a role in that group’s revolt against white rule in the 1790s, and was involved in all the major episodes of Haitian politics in the country’s first decades of independence. According to the memoirs published by his son Edmond Bonnet in France in 1864, Bonnet was born in Léogane, a few miles west of the present day capital, Port-au-Prince in 1775; other sources put his birth in 1772 or 1773. His paternal grandfather was a merchant from Nantes; his mother, who was responsible for his education, was a négresse libre. Employed as a clerk in a French merchant’s office, he followed the events of the French Revolution in the newspapers that reached the colony and was inspired by the ideals of liberty and equality.

Bonnet joined ...

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Elvin Holt

teacher, historian, and folklorist, was born in Goliad, Texas, one of five children of John Henry Brewer, a cattle drover, and Minnie Tate Brewer, a teacher. John Mason grew up with his three sisters, Jewel, Marguerite, Gladys, and his brother Claude in a household that provided a fertile environment for his imagination. His father told exciting stories about his adventures on the cattle drives from the Media Luna Ranch in Texas to the cattle market in Kansas. His mother, a teacher in Texas for over forty years, read the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar to John Mason during his early childhood. As an adult poet, Dr. Brewer would write dialect verse in the manner of Dunbar. Dr. Brewer's love for the oral tradition in African American culture was also nurtured by his grandfathers, Joe Brewer and Pinckney Mitchell, who told him folktales. John Mason ...

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Orquídea Ribeiro

Portuguese soldier, chronicler, and historian, was born in Vila Viçosa, Portugal, the son of the New Christian family of António de Cadornega e Oliveira and Antónia Simões Correia (“New Christian” referring to Iberian Jews who had converted to Catholicism). His mother and sister, Violante de Azevedo, were accused of continuing to practice Judaism, however, and incarcerated during the Spanish Inquisition.

Cadornega and his brother Manuel studied Latin and Portuguese with the Friars of St. Augustine in Vila Viçosa. In 1639 when the boys were of age to enter university their father wanted them to pursue further studies Instead they decided to go to Angola and volunteered for the military They asked the Duke of Braganza the future king John IV to write a letter of recommendation to be presented to the newly appointed Governor General Pedro César de Menezes The brothers boarded the same ship as the Governor General ...

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Adele N. Nichols

sailor, clerk, attendant, author, and mason, is believed to have been born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, even though there is no substantial proof of that location. Various sources cite the District of Columbia or Maryland as his possible birthplace; nevertheless, it seems more probable that he was born in Virginia due to his family background. Grimshaw's parents were Juliet Grimshaw, a slave, and Robert Tyler, a slave owner. Even though there are limited facts on his personal childhood and education, a historical essay, “Winney Grimshaw, A Virginia Slave, and Her Family” by Richard Dunn, provides a detailed history on the Grimshaw family's enslavement and life on the Mount Airy plantation in Virginia. Grimshaw's surname, which was unusual in nineteenth-century Virginia, may have come from Samuel Grimshaw, who immigrated to Virginia in 1795 from England or from Thomas Grimshaw who lived near Alexandria and later ...

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Leon F. Litwack

educator and historian, a leading scholar in the field of African American studies, was born in Chicago. Huggins was the son of an African American father, Winston J. Huggins, a waiter and railroad worker, and a Jewish mother, Marie Warsaw. When his father left the family, his mother moved her two children to San Francisco. Two years later she died, and fourteen-year-old Nathan and his sister were on their own. He divided his time between attending high school and working as a warehouseman, longshoreman, and porter. Drafted near the end of World War II, he completed high school in the army and used the GI Bill of Rights to enter the University of California.

His studies at Berkeley, particularly the classes in the history of the South, slavery, and Reconstruction taught by Kenneth M. Stampp exposed him to a revisionist view of the past that demolished ...

Article

Robert L. Gale

educator, army officer, and author, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Ulysses Lee, a businessman and grocery store owner, and Mattie Spriggs. He graduated from Dunbar High School in Washington in 1931, attended Howard University in Washington, joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, earned his BA in 1935, and was also a commissioned graduate and a U.S. Army reservist. Remaining at Howard, Lee taught as a graduate assistant in English in 1935 and 1936 and earned his MA in 1936. Lee also studied briefly at the University of Pennsylvania and became a member of the faculty as an instructor and then as an assistant professor of English at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania from 1936 to 1948. During these years he was twice on leave.

From 1936 to 1939 Lee was a research assistant a consultant and an editor ...

Article

Melanie R. Thomas

educator, university librarian, and historian, was born in Texarkana, Texas, to Early Marshall, a carpenter and railroad worker, and Muskogee, Oklahoma, native Mary (Bland) Marshall. Little is known about Marshall's early life, but his father died when “A.P.” was still a boy, and the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri. There Marshall began his library work experience at one of the public library branches while he attended high school. Marshall prepared himself for a professional career by attending Lincoln University at Jefferson City, Missouri (1934–1938), earning a BA in English and History. He continued his studies at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, receiving a BS degree in Library Science in 1939.

His foremost contribution to the field of library services was A Guide to Negro Periodical Literature (vols. 1–4, Nov. 1941–Dec. 1946 which he began while working as a library ...

Article

colonel in the Nigerian army and first president of the breakaway Republic of Biafra, was born in the town of Zungeru, near Kaduna in Nigeria. The son of Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, a prolific businessman and first president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Ojukwu was educated at King’s College in Lagos and Epsom College in Surrey before earning a master’s degree in history from Lincoln College, Oxford University.

After returning to Nigeria in 1955, Ojukwu joined the civil service and was initially stationed at Udi, a small village near Enugu, and later at Umuhaia and Aba. After a transfer to Calabar was scuttled, allegedly by interference from his influential father, Ojukwu left the civil service in 1957 and joined the fledgling Nigerian army After a tumultuous start he was given a commission as an officer cadet and sent to Eaton Hall the National Service Officer Cadet School near Chester ...

Article

Eddie Enyeobi Okafor

Although he was born in northern Nigeria, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is an Igbo; he hails from Nnewi in Anambra State in eastern Nigeria. His father, a knight of the British empire, Sir Louis Philippe Odumegwu Ojukwu (1908–1966 , was a multimillionaire and one of the richest African businessmen of his day, who sent his son to the best school in Nigeria, King’s College, Lagos, and later sent him to Epson College in Surrey, England.

The young Ojukwu received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oxford University. At the age of twenty-two, he returned to Nigeria. Contrary to his father’s wish, he joined the colonial government service as a district admistrative officer in a rural Igbo village. In 1957 he joined the Nigerian army as a private. However, after attending the Officer Cadet School in England in 1958 he rose rapidly to higher military ranks lieutenant in ...

Article

Kelli Cardenas Walsh

military officer and historian, was born Martha Settle, the fifth of eight children born to Ida Baily, a homemaker and Oliver Settle, a laborer, in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Martha Settle attended Norristown public school in an integrated school system, where she excelled in Latin. Graduating from high school in 1935, she attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., on a scholarship. There she majored in history and education earning a bachelors degree in 1939 and a masters degree in history the following year.

After graduation Putney went to work for the U.S. Civil Service Commission and then the War Manpower Commission, before joining the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) on 1 February 1943 Her decision to join the WAAC was met with family approval Like many of the early African American WAAC recruits she took her basic training at Fort Des Moines in Iowa While at basic training ...

Article

Jerry Gershenhorn

historian, was born in Durham, North Carolina, the son of Eural Endris Thorpe, cotton and tobacco mill worker, and Vina (Dean) Thorpe. Thorpe's mother died before his fourth birthday. In 1932 Eural Thorpe married Bessie Love, who raised Eural's three children with Vina as well as Eural and Bessie's own three children. The Thorpes, who were Baptists, valued religion and education. Despite the limited family income all six children completed college.

Thorpe graduated from Durham's Hillside High School in 1942; he earned a scholarship to attend North Carolina College for Negroes (NCCN), the first state-supported liberal arts college for African Americans, founded in 1910 by James E. Shepard Thorpe attended NCCN for one year before he was drafted into the segregated U S Army during World War II He served in the Ninety second Infantry Division initially assigned to Fort Huachuca Arizona where he ...

Article

Stephen Gilroy Hall

Born in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania, to Thomas and Ellen Rouse Williams on 16 October 1849, George Williams was the oldest son of five siblings. Given the lack of educational opportunities for African Americans in western Pennsylvania, Williams received little formal schooling. In 1863, at the age of fourteen, he enlisted in the Union army. After leaving the army in 1868, Williams applied for admission and was accepted at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1869. He dropped out, however, and entered Wayland Seminary, also in Washington. In 1870 Williams entered Newton Theological Institution outside of Boston. Upon graduation from Newton, Williams was ordained and then offered the pastorate of a prominent African American congregation in Boston, the Twelfth Street Baptist Church, in 1875.

While pastor at Twelfth Street Baptist Church, Williams wrote a monograph, History of the Twelfth Street Baptist Church He left ...

Article

John Hope Franklin

soldier, clergyman, legislator, and historian, was born in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Williams, a free black laborer, and Ellen Rouse. His father became a boatman and, eventually, a minister and barber, and the younger Williams drifted with his family from town to town in western Pennsylvania until the beginning of the Civil War. With no formal education, he lied about his age, adopted the name of an uncle, and enlisted in the United States Colored Troops in 1864. He served in operations against Petersburg and Richmond, sustaining multiple wounds during several battles. After the war's end Williams was stationed in Texas, but crossed the border to fight with the Mexican republican forces that overthrew the emperor Maximilian. He returned to the U.S. Army in 1867 serving with the Tenth Cavalry an all black unit at Fort Arbuckle Indian Territory ...

Article

Todd Steven Burroughs

historian, preacher, writer, newspaper editor, soldier, and human rights activist. Williams wrote two major works of history: A History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880: Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens (1882, two volumes) and A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion, 1861–1865 (1887). His open letter to King Leopold II of Belgium (r. 1865–1909), criticizing the country's brutal colonization of the Belgian Congo, was a seminal human rights document of the nineteenth century.

George Washington Williams was born in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania. He ran away from home at the age of fourteen to fight for the Union during the Civil War. He was a soldier in Mexico before returning to the United States to serve in the U.S. Army's all-black Tenth Cavalry.

After receiving a medical ...

Article

George Washington Williams left school at fourteen and lied about his age in order to enlist in the Union Army during the Civil War. He later enlisted in the Mexican Army, where he quickly rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and then joined the United States Cavalry in 1867 where he served in the Indian campaigns.

In 1868 he enrolled at Newton Theological Seminary, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Graduating in 1874, he became the school's first African American alumnus. Immediately upon graduation, Williams was ordained as pastor of Twelfth Baptist Church in Boston. Fascinated with the church, he wrote an eighty-page study of its history. He left, however, after one year, and in Washington, D.C. started an unsuccessful academic journal about African Americans. Williams became pastor of Union Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became a regular contributor to the Cincinnati Commercial under the ...

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Gloria Grant Roberson

George Washington Williams had a pioneering spirit throughout his life as a soldier clergyman, journalist, historian, lawyer, author, and state legislator. Often aided by influential social and political alliances, he made valuable contributions to the cultural enlightenment of black people. However, as an ambitious and abrupt young man, Williams's drive for success often antagonized those whose support he needed.

Williams was born in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania, to Thomas and Ellen Rouse Williams. He had one older sister and three younger brothers, but little is known of his siblings—Margaret, John, Thomas, and Harry. In his thoroughly researched biography, John Hope Franklin noted that Williams was a “wicked and wild” child who spent time in a boy's shelter. Departure from home at age fourteen to join the military reveals young Williams's propensity for adventure. His positive adjustment to military life is evidenced in his reenlistment patterns from 1864 through 1868 ...

Article

Maxim Zabolotskikh

Ethiopian physician, writer, and civil servant, also known as Dr. or Hakim Charles Martin, was born on 21 October 1864 in Gonder. Workneh lost his parents during the siege of Maqdala by English troops in 1868. He was passed into the custody of a Colonel Chamberlain, who took him to India, where the expeditionary force sent against Emperor Tewodros II was originally located. The colonel died when the boy was only seven, and Workneh was raised by Christian missionaries. A certain Colonel Martin agreed to become his benefactor and paid the costs of his keep. Hence, Workneh adopted the names of two Englishmen, who helped him, and became Charles Martin.

Workneh graduated from Lahore Medical College in 1882 and went to Scotland, where he was certified in medicine and surgery in 1891 After eight years in Burma as a medical officer he had a chance to revisit Ethiopia ...