Bristol Historical & Preservation Society Selling Rare Rhode Island Book
BRISTOL HISTORICAL & PRESERVATION SOCIETY TO SELL RARE COPY OF 19TH-CENTURY AFRICAN AMERICAN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
[Bristol, RI]; January 14, 2012 – The Bristol Historical and Preservation Society announced today that it is selling a rare first edition of The Life of William J. Brown of Providence, R.I. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Bristol Historical and Preservation Society and The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society.
Published in 1883, William J. Brown’s compelling and insightful autobiography is an exceptional firsthand account of the experiences of people of color in nineteenth-century Rhode Island. Brown, the grandson of slaves freed by abolitionist Moses Brown, was educated in Providence where he witnessed and wrote about the great historical period unfolding in this bustling seaport. He describes his childhood and opportunities for an unusually good education, contemporary race relations, temperance, religion, organized societies and local and national politics. He records his encounters with African American troops in the Civil War and prominent African American contemporaries, including Frederick Douglass and Henry Bibb.
The Bristol Historical & Preservation Society will be conducting a private auction for this historic book and cultural artifact. Individuals and institutions interested in purchasing the book should contact Derry Riding, President of the Bristol Historical & Preservation Society, by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (401) 253-7223. The initial bid is $1200 (antiquarian experts believe the book’s value to be far higher). Bids will be received until February 1, 2013.
"We are pleased to bring this important and historic book to the attention of a wider audience,” says Riding. "Unlike many other contemporary narratives that were ghostwritten by white Americans with a progressive agenda, Brown's account provides an authentic African American window into one of the most important times in US history. Proceeds from the sale will be shared with The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society to benefit the ongoing programs of both organizations.”
Author William J. Brown was active in the temperance movement and worked as a shoemaker and a preacher and treasurer of Congdon Street Baptist Church for which he raised the funds to construct the congregation’s building. He died in February 1886 at the age of 71, three years after publication of his important book.
The Bristol Historical & Preservation Society was founded in 1936 to promote interest in historical research and preservation, to stimulate the study of the history of Southern New England, especially the Town of Bristol, to collect and preserve whatever pertains thereto, and to provide museum quarters for exhibitions and a meeting space for members.
The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society was founded in 1975 with a mission to preserve three centuries of African American history in the state. The Society has amassed a collection that preserves the evidence of local African Americans’ achievements in military service, business, politics, the arts, and education. The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society also encourages and promotes the study of African American history by hosting tours and lectures for the general public.
Visit www.ribhs.org for more information.
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