Sunday, November 17, 2019

Review of "Studies in Iowa History: The Negro In Iowa," by Leola Nelson Bergmann

Review of

Studies in Iowa History: The Negro In Iowa, by Leola Nelson Bergmann

Four out of five stars

 Published by the State Historical Society of Iowa in 1969, this pamphlet is generally a factual recollection of the numbers of African American people in the state of Iowa from the time the territory was opened to white settlement. Since many of the early settlers migrated up from southern states where slavery was legal, some slaves accompanied those migrants. However, they were few, yet the intense dialog regarding the future of slavery was part of the social and political fabric of what was to become the state of Iowa.

 There are several pages devoted to the social and economic actions of the African Americans, from the early days there were African American professionals, although most worked as laborers or domestics. It is interesting to note that there were many firsts, from the awarding of advanced degrees to the holding of state and local political offices.

 One of the most interesting topics covered is the town of Buxton, Iowa. Created as a consequence of the local coal mines, the peak population was between eight and ten thousand people and it was fully integrated. It was a company owned town, yet all workers were treated equally. Many black people that grew up there said they never experienced discrimination until they moved to other areas of the country. Unfortunately, the collapse of the coal industry led to it being a ghost town by 1927.

 There is much in this book that will make Iowans proud of their heritage of how black people were historically treated in the state.

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