Book details African-Americans’ artisan contributions

Oct. 24, 2013 @ 04:45 PM

John Rice Green, a tailor; Thomas C. Battle, a brickmason; and Elizabeth and Sarah Bragg, both tailors, are among the extensive community of African-American artisans whose legacies make up the history of New Bern. A new book, “Crafting Lives: African American Artisans in New Bern, North Carolina, 1770-1900” (UNC Press, $30, clothbound) pays tribute to this skilled group of artisans.
Catherine W. Bishir, curator of Architectural Records Special Collections at N.C. State University Libraries, has chronicled and documented part of African-American life that she said is seldom told. “The popular stereotype of African American southerners focuses on their labor in fields and forests, as servants and laborers, or minimally skilled craft workers,” Bishir writes. “But in fact from the earliest years of Euro-African settlement in America men and women of African descent practiced craft trades in urban as well as rural settings, where they often constituted a major part of the skilled workforce.” In majority-black New Bern, this group of African-Americans also became important church, political and civic leaders.
Bishir will be presenting her book at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the North Carolina History Center, 529 S. Front St., in New Bern. (To purchase this book, visit

-- Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill will publish the trade paperback edition of Jill McCorkle’s novel about the residents, staff and neighbors of Pine Haven retirement center, “Life After Life,” Nov. 5.
For more about this release, visit

-- Local author Judy Hogan has released two new books this fall. “Beaver Soul” is a collection of poems expressing her love for the people of Kostroma, Russia. Hogan has organized many exchanges with the writers and artists of Durham’s sister city. She also has published the second novel in her mystery series, “Farm Fresh and Fatal.”
Hogan will read from the novel at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Regulator Bookshop, 720 Ninth St., Durham. Hogan also will present the book at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at South Regional Branch of Durham County Library, and at 2 p.m. Dec. 8 at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village in Pittsboro.

-- Jennifer Dawn Farley, manager of Duke Homestead Historic Site, will discuss and sign copies of her history “Duke Homestead and the American Tobacco Company” at 2 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in New Hope Commons in Durham. Farley’s book chronicles the far-reaching impact of American Tobacco and the Duke family on Durham’s

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