Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950)

Carter Godwin Woodson was the son of former slaves whose early education was spotty, to say the least. But by the time he was he twenty-two, he had obtained his high school diploma. He later received a masters degree from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from Harvard University.

His early experiences no doubt informed his 1933 book, The Mis-Education of the Negro. But by that time, Woodson had written about a dozen other books and had cemented his reputation as a serious academic. He had also made serious the study of black history and sociology.

Woodson advocated a recognition of black history independent of the larger Euro-centric history. In 1916, Woodson co-founded The Journal of Negro History, which still publishes today. In 1926, with Woodson’s direction, the first Negro History week was observed.

In 2006, his home in Washington, D.C., was made a National Historic Landmark.

I’m currently reading Woodson’s 1918 book, A Century of Negro Migration. Although this was just his second book, it reveals the depth of Woodson’s observational skills and his exceptional writing ability. The book is useful for both research and background understanding, as it relates a number of specific anecdotes about various individuals and families. It’s worth reading even if you have no general interest in “black history,” because it explains the sub-text to various events in American history. The book is not pedantic and I can assure you, you’ll learn something about American history that you didn’t know before.

Carter G. Woodson Links:

Carter G. Woodson Institute at University of Virginia

The Association for the Study of African-American Life and History

The Carter G. Woodson Collection of Negro Papers and Related Documents at the Library of Congress

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Craig


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