Daily Life of African Americans in Primary Documents
by Herbert C. Covey and Dwight Eisnach, Editors
November 2020, 688pp, 7x10
2 volumes, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6664-7
$204, £152, 176€, A276
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6665-4
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Black Americans, free and enslaved, established their own identities, kept their respective cultural heritage alive, contributed to society, and resisted white oppression.

Daily Life of African Americans in Primary Documents takes readers on an insightful journey through the life experiences of African Americans over the centuries, capturing African American experiences, challenges, accomplishments, and daily lives, often in their own words.

This two-volume set provides readers with a balanced collection of materials that captures the wide-ranging experiences of African American people over the history of North America. Volume 1 begins with the enslavement and transportation of slaves to North America and ends with the Civil War; Volume 2 continues with the beginning of Reconstruction through the election of Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency.

Each volume provides a chronology of major events, a historic overview, and sections devoted to domestic, material, economic, intellectual, political, leisure, and religious life of African Americans for the respective time spans. Volume 1 covers a wide variety of topics from a multitude of perspectives in such areas as enslavement, life during the Civil War, common foods, housing, clothing, political opinions, and similar topics. Volume 2 addresses the civil rights movement, court cases, life under Jim Crow, Reconstruction, busing, housing segregation, and more.

Each volume includes 100–110 primary sources with suggested readings from government publications, court testimony, census data, interviews, newspaper accounts, period appropriate letters, Works Progress Administration interviews, sermons, laws, diaries, and reports.


  • Includes more than 200 primary sources unchanged from the originals and accompanied by introductions that inform readers of the significance of the primary source
  • Incorporates the perspectives of formerly enslaved African Americans through Works Progress Administration interviews
  • Identifies some of the challenges of being black in American society
  • Provides readers with a sense of the contexts in which African Americans have lived in America
  • Highlights some of the success stories involving African Americans and some of their contributions to the advancement of American society
  • Provides broad sweeping historic overviews for each volume as well as chronologies of significant events in African American history that shaped everyday life
Herbert C. Covey has a PhD in sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and is acting director of the Adams County Human Services Department. His published works include ABC-CLIO's The Smallest Victims: A History of Child Maltreatment and Child Protection in America; Crips and Bloods: A Guide to American Subculture; How the Slaves Saw the Civil War: Recollections of the War through the WPA Slave Narratives; What the Slaves Ate: Recollections of the African American Foods and Foodways from the Slave Narratives. He is also the author of African American Slave Medicine: Herbal and Non-Herbal Treatment.

Dwight Eisnach has a BA in journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a freelance writer and coauthor of ABC-CLIO's How the Slaves Saw the Civil War: Recollections of the War through the WPA Slave Narratives and What the Slaves Ate: Recollections of the African American Foods and Foodways from the Slave Narratives. After a career in investigative newspaper reporting, in which he won several national awards, he worked in public relations and lobbying.
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