The History of the Black Population of Amherst, Massachusetts, 1728-1870
By James Avery Smith, Introduction by Franklin A. Dorman
2020 reprint of 1999 original
Hardcover, 156 pp., illustrated
This 1999 publication is now back in print due to popular demand. As Frank Dorman says in the introduction, Jim Smith has taken an important step toward the realization of “our long-deferred dream of [a] harmonious and healthy society” by bringing to life a vibrant western Massachusetts community. The author uses tax lists, probate and land records, selectman records, censuses, Court of Sessions and military records, and two large handwritten volumes compiled by former Amherst Town Clerk, Samuel Cutts Carter, to lift the veil on a previously invisible part of our history and culture. Smith first calls on the very rich content of oral tradition, an integral part of black local history, to deliver a fascinating 55-page historical narrative covering the slavery era through the Civil War. The second part of the book uses a modified Register format to treat, in alphabetical order, every African American who appears in the Amherst records. Includes a list of Amherst men, by Regiment, who joined the Army, a bibliography and primary source list, an every-name index, and many striking photos from the Boltwood Collection at the Jones Library in Amherst.