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The Elite of Our People: Joseph Willson's Sketches of Black Upper-Class Life in Antebellum Philadelphia

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Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia, first published in 1841, was written by Joseph Willson, a southern black man who had moved to Philadelphia. He wrote this book to convince whites that the African American community in his adopted city did indeed have a class structure, and he offers advice to his black readers about how they should use the Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia, first published in 1841, was written by Joseph Willson, a southern black man who had moved to Philadelphia. He wrote this book to convince whites that the African American community in his adopted city did indeed have a class structure, and he offers advice to his black readers about how they should use their privileged status. The significance of Willson's account lies in its sophisticated analysis of the issues of class and race in Philadelphia. It is all the more important in that it predates W. E. B. Du Bois's The Philadelphia Negro by more than half a century. Julie Winch has written a substantial introduction and prepared extensive annotation. She identifies the people Willson wrote about and gives readers a sense of Philadelphia s multifaceted and richly textured African American community. The Elite of Our People will interest urban, antebellum, and African American historians, as well as individuals with a general interest in African American history.This volume has withstood the test of time. It remains readable. Joseph Willson was well read, articulate, and had a keen eye for detail. His message is as timely today as it was in 1841. The people he wrote about were remarkable individuals whose lives were as complex as his own.


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Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia, first published in 1841, was written by Joseph Willson, a southern black man who had moved to Philadelphia. He wrote this book to convince whites that the African American community in his adopted city did indeed have a class structure, and he offers advice to his black readers about how they should use the Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia, first published in 1841, was written by Joseph Willson, a southern black man who had moved to Philadelphia. He wrote this book to convince whites that the African American community in his adopted city did indeed have a class structure, and he offers advice to his black readers about how they should use their privileged status. The significance of Willson's account lies in its sophisticated analysis of the issues of class and race in Philadelphia. It is all the more important in that it predates W. E. B. Du Bois's The Philadelphia Negro by more than half a century. Julie Winch has written a substantial introduction and prepared extensive annotation. She identifies the people Willson wrote about and gives readers a sense of Philadelphia s multifaceted and richly textured African American community. The Elite of Our People will interest urban, antebellum, and African American historians, as well as individuals with a general interest in African American history.This volume has withstood the test of time. It remains readable. Joseph Willson was well read, articulate, and had a keen eye for detail. His message is as timely today as it was in 1841. The people he wrote about were remarkable individuals whose lives were as complex as his own.

31 review for The Elite of Our People: Joseph Willson's Sketches of Black Upper-Class Life in Antebellum Philadelphia

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roger Walker

    It's good to look into your past every now and then. The annotations and notes provided aid to revealing references that might have held sway in the early 1800's but are obscure now. It's good to look into your past every now and then. The annotations and notes provided aid to revealing references that might have held sway in the early 1800's but are obscure now.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jo

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Wegmann

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mark Moore

  5. 5 out of 5

    Devin Givner

  6. 5 out of 5

    The Black Geek

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jbondandrews

  9. 5 out of 5

    Yasmin

  10. 5 out of 5

    R.K. Johnson

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steve Walker

  12. 5 out of 5

    Annelisa

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kortni

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melanese Philbert

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nascha

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  17. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  19. 5 out of 5

    Noah

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Strode

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nadine Matthews

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ronda Lathion-Searcy

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carla

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  25. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Gasparre

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nicollette

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jewell

  29. 5 out of 5

    bookster95

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lashunda Hill

  31. 4 out of 5

    De

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