Assembling materials from different fields is an effort to deepen understanding of complex subjects. It is the method of American studies, the discipline that shaped the present project. Specifically, I have tried to keep nineteenth-century portrayals of Blacks and pertinent facets of social history in the same range of vision. I have looked at the white supremacist civilization that produced a white supremacist children’s literature, and documented the ideology of white racism as formulated for young reading audiences.
My work on this subject was compelled by the conviction that social history is knowable and that social understanding is malleable and potentially progressive. But the record must be laid bare in clear and specific terms. In endeavoring to achieve this clarity, I have been aided by members of the University of Iowa academic community.
In particular I want to extend thanks to those who helped with the dissertation on which this book is based. I owe an endless debt to the late Jonathan W. Walton Jr.—my primary teacher in the field of African American history and the chairperson of my dissertation committee until his sudden passing just months before the work’s completion. Dr. Walton was a person of extraordinary character and spirit, a dedicated scholar, an inspiration to his students. He renewed in me an enthusiasm for historical research and continually revitalized my faith in the interdisciplinary American studies process.
Professors Kathleen Tessmer, Albert Stone, and the late Darwin Turner were invaluable as editorial advisers, content experts, and teachers. Dr. Robert Weems was kind enough to join my committee after Dr. Walton’s passing, and I much appreciated his participation