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Antebellum African Americans

Helen Bradley Foster

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. The United States and Canada 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Dress figures prominently in the recollections of Africans enslaved in the United States. These remembrances include the published memoirs of people who escaped the South before emancipation and the narrations of approximately two thousand formerly enslaved people collected in the 1930s under the auspices of the U.S. government. They described in detail the clothing given them by owners and other means by which they acquired it. They described everyday wear, and dress for special events such as h

African American Jewellery Before the Civil War

Helen Bradley Foster

Source: Beads and Bead Makers. Gender, Material Culture and Meaning 1998

Book chapter

African American men, women and children wore jewellery, including beads, during the period of enslavement.Throughout, I refer to citizens of the United States of America who claim African ancestry as either ‘African Americans’ or ‘Blacks’, spelled with a capital ‘B’. I refer to Americans of European descent as ‘whites’, without capitalization. My discussion includes descriptions and analyses of a range of jewellery, not only beads, because they interrelate. An excellent source of evidence for th

Introduction: Warping a Folk History

Helen Bradley Foster

Source: “New Raiments of Self”. African American Clothing in the Antebellum South 1997

Book chapter

Material culture is made up of tangible things crafted, shaped, altered, and used across time and across space . . .. It is art, architecture, food, clothing, and furnishing. But more so, it is the weave of these objects in the everyday lives of individuals and communities.

Beginning in Africa

Helen Bradley Foster

Source: “New Raiments of Self”. African American Clothing in the Antebellum South 1997

Book chapter

Everything will be done to wipe out their traditions, to substitute our traditions for theirs and to destroy their culture without giving them ours (Franz Fanon 1963).

Constructing Cloth and Clothing in the Antebellum South

Helen Bradley Foster

Source: “New Raiments of Self”. African American Clothing in the Antebellum South 1997

Book chapter

. . . the making of a piece of cloth is never just the making of a piece of cloth . . . (John Picton 1995:13).

Wearing Antebellum Clothing

Helen Bradley Foster

Source: “New Raiments of Self”. African American Clothing in the Antebellum South 1997

Book chapter

Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than merely to keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.

Having Footwear

Helen Bradley Foster

Source: “New Raiments of Self”. African American Clothing in the Antebellum South 1997

Book chapter

Malinda Murphy (b. ca, 1857): We had no shoes and made tracks of blood in de snow (11. 8:261 [MO]).

Crowning the Person

Helen Bradley Foster

Source: “New Raiments of Self”. African American Clothing in the Antebellum South 1997

Book chapter

‘Ogea, please get my head-tie, I am going out now’ (Flora Nwapa, Nigeria, 1978:176).

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