Gary R. Kremer explores the history of Lincoln University from its founding by former Missouri slaves in 1866 through its emergence as a state-funded normal and vocational school to its establishment as the state’s only public institution of higher education for African Americans in 1921. Special attention is given to Lincoln University’s “golden years,” from 1921 through the mid-1950s, when it was often referred to as the “Black Harvard of the Midwest.”
In his path-breaking book Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City, Colin Gordon combined GIS digital mapping techniques with extensive archival research to reach new perspectives on St. Louis’s decades-long struggles with depopulation, segregation, economic disparity, and urban decay. Gordon's current research continues to probe for deeper understanding of the underlying issues and failed policies behind urban crises such as the turmoil in Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot and killed by local police on August 9, 2014.
St. Louis native Miller W. Boyd III shares insights from his groundbreaking research into the African American experience in Missouri during the Civil War. In unraveling the traditional motives for service—fighting to destroy slavery in America, securing black citizenship, and preserving the Union—Boyd shows that personal freedom and a chance to financially provide for families were often stronger motivations to enlist.
Lea Vandervelde discusses her most recent book, Redemption Songs: Suing for Freedom before Dred Scott, a groundbreaking study of more than 300 freedom suits in St. Louis. Through the careful evaluation of 12 cases, the book offers insights into the practice of slavery and the lives of those enslaved in Missouri.
Walter Johnson, a professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, uses Dred Scott's personal struggle for freedom and the controversial outcome of his US Supreme Court case as a lens to help illuminate the central role of St. Louis in the imperialist and racial capitalist history of the United States.
Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau professor at the University of Michigan, shares the deeply powerful and unfortunately very tragic story of Celia, who was purchased by a local man in Callaway County and suffered tremendously for years before she eventually stood up for her basic human right to decide her own fate.