Kelly Miller


“How to Solve the Race Problem” and other Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

The February release of Black Authors, 1556-1922 includes a work on class and race in Philadelphia published during the Antebellum Period, an examination of the post-Reconstruction South by a Barbados-born lawyer, and an early 20th-century solution to the race problem “by eminent men of both races and in every walk of life.” Among the African American leaders who convened at the 1903 Washington Conference on the Race Problem in the United States were the 18 whose photographs appear below.


Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia (1841) 

By A Southerner  

Joseph Wilson, using the pseudonym A Southerner, wrote about his adopted city in hopes of proving to the white community that the African American community also contained an upper echelon and to offer advice to the privileged members of that class. Wilson’s work is particularly notable because it is a very early account of class and race in Philadelphia, predating W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Philadelphia Negro by half a century.  

“How to Solve the Race Problem” and other Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

The current release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes three important perspectives on African Americans in the armed forces. John Henry Paynter writes of being a cabin-boy in the U.S. Navy and seeing much of the world in the late-19th century; Theophilus Gould Steward, himself a Buffalo Soldier, explores the role of African Americans in American military conflicts from the Revolution to the Spanish-American War; and Kelly Miller presents an account of the contributions of African Americans in World War I.


Joining the Navy: Abroad with Uncle Sam (1895)

By John Henry Paynter

I believe that the public generally desires to be informed somewhat of the personal history of the author whose work engages their attention; in deference to that impression I may say briefly that I was born at New Castle, Delaware, on the 15th of February, 1862, in the house where my paternal grandmother now lives. My father came to Washington…in 1858…having been given a place under the government. My mother, whom I do not remember, survived but a little while the birth of my sister, who in turn after a few brief months followed her into the angel land.

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

“A Breed of Moral Vipers”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1921

The November release of Black Authors, 1556-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a guide for self-improvement, the autobiography of the founder of Latta University, and a collection of essays by the Bard of the Potomac.



The College of Life, or, Practical Self-Educator (1896)

By Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D., Hon. Joseph R. Gay, and Prof. Irving Garland Penn

This self-improvement manual was written as a guide to African American success. The authors summarize their work, writing:

…portraits of many successful men and women of their own race, with sketches of their achievements in life, are given as examples of what may be accomplished through education, patience, perseverance and integrity of character. Many engravings illustrating Afro-American Progress are introduced as object lessons of the great advancement of their own people, impressing them with the fact that they must educate and elevate themselves if they would attain success in life.

This volume is intended as a Self-Educator and is in no sense a history or book of biography; therefore it cannot be expected to include the portraits or mention all prominent men of the race, nor describe all historical events. Sufficient portraits and sketches of successful Afro-American men and women are given as a GUIDE TO SUCCESS, and illustrations of places, objects and events are given for the purpose of inspiring ambition and as an incentive for the sons and daughters of the race.

Included in the “Contents of the Proper Conduct of Life” are sections on: 

“A Breed of Moral Vipers”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1921

Twitter @Readex


Back to top