By Carroll W. Pursell
Students operating on the intersection of African-American background and the historical past of expertise are redefining the assumption of expertise to incorporate the paintings of the expert artisan and the ingenuity of the self-taught inventor. even supposing denied entry via so much of yank heritage to many new applied sciences and to the privileged schooling of the engineer, African-Americans were engaged with a diversity of applied sciences, as makers and as clients, because the colonial period. A Hammer in Their fingers (the identify comes from the well-known tune approximately John Henry, "the steel-driving guy" who beat the steam drill) collects newspaper and journal articles, ads for runaway slaves, letters, folklore, excerpts from biography and fiction, felony patents, protest pamphlets, and different basic resources to record the technological achievements of African-Americans.Included during this wealthy and sundry assortment are a letter from Cotton Mather describing an early approach to smallpox inoculation introduced from Africa through a slave; decisions from Frederick Douglass's autobiography and Uncle Tom's Cabin; the accomplice Patent Act, which barred slaves from keeping patents; articles from 1904 through Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois, debating the difficulty of business schooling for African-Americans; a 1924 article from Negro international, "Automobiles and Jim Crow Regulations"; a photo of an all-black global conflict II wrestle squadron; and a 1998 presidential government order on environmental justice. A Hammer of their arms and its better half quantity of essays, know-how and the African-American event (MIT Press, 2004) should be crucial references in an rising zone of analysis.
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Additional resources for A Hammer in Their Hands: A Documentary History of Technology and the African-American Experience
Gardiner had directed me to do whatever the carpenters told me to do. This was placing me at the beck and call of about seventy-five men. I was to regard all these as my masters. Their word was to be my law. My situation was a trying one. I was called a dozen ways in the space of a single minute. I needed a dozen pairs of hands. Three or four voices would strike my ear at the same moment. It was ‘‘Fred, come help me to cant this timber here,’’—‘‘Fred, come carry this timber yonder,’’—‘‘Fred, bring that roller here,’’—‘‘Fred, go get a fresh can of water,’’ ‘‘Fred, come help saw off the end of this timber,’’—‘‘Fred, go quick and get the crow-bar,’’—‘‘Fred, hold on the end of this fall,’’—‘‘Fred, go to the blacksmith’s 32 Chapter 3 shop and get a new punch,’’—‘‘Halloo, Fred!
The first center of this activity stretched along the Atlantic coast from Rhode Island to Delaware, where water power was abundant and cities were large enough to attract artisans, manufacturers, and inventors from Europe, particularly Great Britain. After the War of 1812 this activity spread to the old Northwest across the mountains, as far as the Mississippi. Only the South resisted this transformation. There the deep social and economic commitment to agriculture and the pervasive influence of a slave-labor system made investors reluctant to commit themselves to industrialization.
Main strength—human muscle—unassisted by intelligent skill, was slavery’s method of labor. With a capital of about sixty dollars in the shape of a good-natured old ox, attached to the end of a stout rope, New Bedford did the work of ten or twelve thousand dollars, represented in the bones and muscles of slaves, and did it far better. In a word, I found everything managed with a much more scrupulous regard to economy, both of men and things, time and strength, than in the country from which I had come.
A Hammer in Their Hands: A Documentary History of Technology and the African-American Experience by Carroll W. Pursell