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Black Bostonians: Family Life and Community Struggle in the Antebellum North, Revised Edition

James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton
Black Bostonians: Family Life and Community Struggle in the Antebellum North, Revised Edition
ISBN: 978-0-8419-1379-0
ISBN: 978-0-8419-1380-6
2000/198 pages/LC: 99-34883
Distributed for Holmes & Meier Publishers
"This revised edition of James and Lois Horton's Black Bostonians, incorporating two decades of new scholarship and historical interpretations, provides a substantial updating of a work that has already become an indispensable study of the men and women who composed the vibrant African American community in antebellum Boston."—Thomas H. O'Connor, Boston College

Praise for the first edition:

"[The Hortons] have written a fine book.... Essential reading for an understanding of the structure of black family and community life and work in a major northern city from the early nineteenth century to the eve of the Civil War."—Choice

"The picture painted by the Hortons of the black political community is moving and persuasive."—The American Historical Review


Updated and expanded in this revised edition to reflect twenty years of new research, when published in 1979 Black Bostonians was the first comprehensive social history of an antebellum northern black community.

The Hortons challenged the then widely held view that African Americans in the antebellum urban north were all trapped in "a culture of poverty." Exploring life in black Boston from the eighteenth century to the eve of the Civil War, they combined quantitative and traditional historical methods to reveal the rich fabric of a thriving society, where people from all walks of life organized for mutual aid, survival, and social action, and which was a center of the antislavery movement.


James Oliver Horton is Benjamin Banneker Professor Emeritus of American Studies and History at George Washington University and Historian Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. Lois E. Horton retired as professor of sociology at George Mason University. The two have collaborated most recently on Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory and Slavery and the Making of American History, the companion book to the PBS series of the same name.


  • Profile of Black Boston.
  • Families and Households in Black Boston.
  • Formal and Informal Organizations and Associations.
  • The Community and the Church.
  • Leaders and Community Activists.
  • Segregation, Discrimination, and Community Resistance.
  • The Integration of Abolition.
  • The Fugitive and the Community.
  • A Decade of Militancy.