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Lecture on “African American Artisans in North Carolina” by Catherine Bishir

when: Nov. 21, 2013

A lecture on “African American Artisans in North Carolina” by Catherine Bishir will take place on Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 7 pm at the Visitors Center of the Joel Lane Museum House at 160 South Saint Mary’s Street, Raleigh, NC 27603. Admission will be $15 for the general public and $10 for members of the Joel Lane Historical Society. Refreshments will be served. Seating is limited, and advanced payment is required. Please call 919-833-3431 with your MasterCard or Visa, or mail a check to P O Box 10884, Raleigh NC 27605. Be sure to include the names of all in your party; nametags will serve as tickets. Tickets are non-refundable unless we must cancel the event.

Catherine Bishir is a renowned North Carolina historian whose newest book in entitled “Crafting Lives: African American Artisans in New Bern, NC, 1770-1900.” Mrs. Bishir will discuss both the contents of her new book and the wider story of African American artisans throughout the state. She will be available to sign the book after her talk.

From the colonial period onward, black artisans in southern cities—thousands of free and enslaved carpenters, coopers, dressmakers, blacksmiths, saddlers, shoemakers, bricklayers, shipwrights, cabinetmakers, tailors, and others—played vital roles in their communities. Yet only a very few black craftspeople have gained popular and scholarly attention. Catherine W. Bishir remedies this oversight in her newest book by offering an in-depth portrayal of urban African American artisans in the small but important port city of New Bern. In so doing, she highlights the community’s often unrecognized importance in the history of nineteenth-century black life.

Drawing upon myriad sources, Bishir brings to life men and women who employed their trade skills, sense of purpose, and community relationships to work for liberty and self-sufficiency, to establish and protect their families, and to assume leadership in churches and associations and in New Bern’s dynamic political life during and after the Civil War. Focusing on their words and actions, Crafting Lives provides a new understanding of urban southern black artisans’ unique place in the larger picture of American artisan identity.

Bishir currently serves as Curator in Architectural Special Collections at North Carolina State University Library. She previously held various positions at the State Historic Preservation Office and Preservation North Carolina. She is author or co-author of several books on North Carolina’s architectural heritage including NORTH CAROLINA ARCHITECTURE and the three-volume series of GUIDES TO THE HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE OF EASTERN, WESTERN, and PIEDMONT NORTH CAROLINA.


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