The Middle Passage and the Material Culture of Captive Africans

2009 (Jerome S. Handler) “The Middle Passage and the Material Culture of Captive Africans.” Slavery and Abolition 30: 1-26.

Scholars of the Atlantic slave trade have not systematically addressed the question of what material objects or personal belongings captive Africans took aboard the slave ships and what goods they may have acquired on the Middle Passage. This topic has implications for the archaeology of African descendant sites in the New World and the transmission of African material culture. This paper reviews the evidence for clothing, metal, bead, and other jewelry, amulets, tobacco pipes, musical instruments, and gaming materials. In so doing, the paper provides an empirical foundation for the severe limitations placed upon enslaved Africans in transporting their material culture to the New World.

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Gizzard Stones, Wari in the New World, and Slave Ships: Some Research Questions

2009 (Jerome S. Handler) “Gizzard Stones, Wari in the New World, and Slave Ships: Some Research Questions.” African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter. June.

Argues that archaeologically recovered so-called gizzard stones were not utilized for playing wari, the African board game, by African descended populations in the United States, reviews documentary and ethnographic evidence for the presence of wari in the United States and the Caribbean, and discusses the documentary evidence for the presence of African games aboard British slaving vessels during the Middle Passage.

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Escrava Anastácia: The Iconographic History of a Brazilian Popular Saint

2009 (J. S. Handler and K. E. Hayes) “Escrava Anastácia: The Iconographic History of a Brazilian Popular Saint.” African Diaspora: Journal of Transnational Africa in a Global World 2: 1-27.

This article describes the transformation of an image depicting an unnamed, enslaved African man wearing a metal facemask, a common form of punishment in colonial Brazil, into the iconic representation of the martyred slave Anastácia/Anastasia, the focus of a growing religious and political movement in Brazil. The authors trace the image to an early 19th century engraving based on a drawing by the Frenchman Jacques Arago. Well over a century later, Arago’s image increasingly became associated with a corpus of myths describing the virtuous suffering and painful death of a female slave named Anastácia. By the 1990s, Arago’s image (and variations of it), now identified as the martyred Anastácia/Anastasia, had proliferated throughout Brazil, an object of devotion for Catholics and practitioners of Umbanda, as well as a symbol of black pride.

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The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record

2009 (J. S. Handler and M. Tuite) The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record.

The approximately 1,235 images in this collection have been selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. This collection is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public – in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World.

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Aspects of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Smoking Pipes, Tobacco, and the Middle Passage

2008 (Jerome S. Handler) “Aspects of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Smoking Pipes, Tobacco, and the Middle Passage.” African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter. June.

This paper briefly addresses tobacco consumption and pipe smoking in Western Africa, and the relevance of these practices to the Atlantic slave trade as well as to the material culture of captive Africans during their forced passage to the New World.

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From West Africa to Barbados: A Rare Pipe from a Plantation Slave Cemetery

2007 (J. Handler and N. Norman) “From West Africa to Barbados: A Rare Pipe from a Plantation Slave Cemetery.” African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter. September.

Discusses a distinctive short-stemmed earthenware pipe that was excavated in a plantation slave cemetery in Barbados in the early 1970s; since its excavation nothing similar has been reported from African descendant sites in British America. Archaeological and documentary evidence argue for a Gold Coast provenience sometime during the late 17th or early 18th centuries.

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Land Exploitative Activities and Economic Patterns in a Barbados Village

1965 (Jerome S. Handler) Land Exploitative Activities and Economic Patterns in a Barbados Village. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, Brandeis University.

This study is concerned with one sector of the economic life of a small village in the hill area — known as the Scotland District — of the island of Barbados, British West Indies. It will focus upon a description and analysis of the ways in which land resources in and around the village of Chalky Mount are exploited, and upon the kinds of social relationships villagers form in the pursuance of economic activities related to land exploitation. Of secondary, but related, importance is a concern with the ways in which villagers combine their land-based and other economic activities in order to meet their cash and subsistence needs.

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Bibliographic Addenda to Guides for the Study of Barbados History, 1971 & 1991

2006, 2007 (Jerome S. Handler) “Bibliographic Addenda to Guides for the Study of Barbados History, 1971 & 1991: Installment One, Installment Two.” JBMHS 52: 35-53 and 53: 199-211.

Published and some manuscript materials that have come to my attention since the publication of “A Guide to Source Materials for the Study of Barbados History, 1627-1834” ( Southern Illinois University Press, 1971; reprinted Oak Knoll Press, 2002), and “Supplement to A Guide to Source Materials for the Study of Barbados History, 1627-1834” (The John Carter Brown Library, 1991).

Installment One: Bibliographic Addenda to Guides for the Study of Barbados History, 1971 & 1991

Installment Two: Bibliographic Addenda to Guides for the Study of Barbados History, 1971 & 1991

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From Cambay in India to Barbados in the Caribbean: Two Unique Beads from a Plantation Slave Cemetery

2007 (Jerome S. Handler) “From Cambay in India to Barbados in the Caribbean: Two Unique Beads from a Plantation Slave Cemetery.” African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter. March.

In the early 1970s, archaeological investigations at Newton plantation in Barbados recovered the skeletal remains of 104 individuals, interred from approximately 1660 to around 1820. Twelve of the burials were associated with close to 900 beads. These beads represented a variety of types, including two distinctive large reddish-orange carnelian beads. Despite the excavation of additional burials at Newton in the late 1990s which also recovered some beads associated with several burials, and considerable archaeological work since the early 1970s in African diasporic sites in the Caribbean and North America (including the massive “African Burial Ground” in New York City, as far as I can ascertain the two Newton specimens are still the only examples of their kind from New World sites. They remain unusual and unique material legacies of the transatlantic slave trade to Britain’s American colonies.

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Retouching History: The Modern Falsification of a Civil War Photograph

2007 (J. S. Handler and M. L. Tuite) “Retouching History: The Modern Falsification of a Civil War Photograph (2007).”

This website discusses a Civil War-era posed studio photograph of unidentified black Union soldiers with a white officer. This photograph was the basis for a well-known poster used by the Federal army to recruit black soldiers in the Philadelphia area. The studio photograph has been deliberately falsified in recent years by an unknown person/s sympathetic to the Confederacy. This falsified or fabricated photo, purporting to be of the 1st Louisiana Native Guards (Confederate), has been taken to promote Neo-Confederate views, to accuse Union propagandists of duplicity, and to show that black soldiers were involved in the armed defense of the Confederacy. Here we provide background to the original Civil War-era photograph and discuss why we believe its modern copy is a falsification; we also detail our conjectures as to how this falsification was accomplished.

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