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Examining the African American Role in New Haven History: Pride in the Past—Hope for the Future

Jean Sutherland

Contents of Curriculum Unit 92.03.08:

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Having spent slightly over a half-century as a resident of New Haven, I have been witness to numerous physical, economic, and sociological changes which have dramatically altered the face of this city in general and of its neighborhoods in particular. My reactions to these changes are a mixture of awe and understanding.

In contrast, my fifth grade pupils appear to have little realization or appreciation that things weren’t always as they are today. Most live in neighborhoods which struggle on a daily basis with the all too common problems of inner-city life. Poverty, drugs, violence, and their assorted ills are exerting an ever increasing influence upon these pupils whom I teach. They often can identify little chance that anything is going to change for the better. It is difficult for them to imagine that their neighborhood and New Haven as a whole was once far different.

Their view of history is limited and fragmented at best, especially as it relates to African Americans. Due to a system-wide emphasis on “black history” during the month of February, they are generally knowledgeable regarding a wide variety of isolated individuals and particular incidents. In varying degrees, most are aware of Martin Luther King, Jr., the March on Washington, Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad, George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson, and other vital yet disconnected parts of the whole. It has been a reoccurring theme of my last three units that until these people and events are fit together in more of an historical continuum, my pupils not only will miss much of the historical significance played by these individuals and events, but also, and probably more importantly, they will find it difficult to see themselves as part of the larger picture. Without this broader understanding and appreciation of the past, they are unable to fully draw upon this knowledge as a source of self-esteem, direction, and hopefully positive inspiration.

Regarding their understanding of an African American role in the history of New Haven, I imagine that for most there is little more than the image of a courageous Cinque standing tall midst the trials and tribulations of the Amisted affair. With the variety of positive activities planned for this Fall to commemorate the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the 1842 decision, his imposing figure should stand even more dominantly, yet more isolated, as the symbol of African American history in New Haven.

As with United States history, I strongly feel that in order to gain from the past and to understand their place in the present, my pupils need to be presented with at least a framework of historical information while studying their city. Similarly, it seems logical that a framework of general African American history must clarify the development of the African American history of the smaller municipal unit. The means of providing this broader view of African American history in the United States will vary depending upon the teacher and the nature of the class. I intend to use various combinations of my three units written previously for the Yale New Haven Teachers Institute: “Poetry: A Mirror in which to See Myself” (1989), “The Family that Endured” (1990), and “Building Dreams: Who is There to Help You?” (1991). These units employ a combination of poetry, art, American literature, and specific works of autobiography. Although I realize that not all or even most pupils of this age are developmentally ready to fully understand the order and interrelationship of historical events, I strongly feel that an intent to achieve this understanding should influence the teacher’s manner of presentation.

In this particular unit on New Haven, I hope my students will become more aware of the changes that have taken place in their city and neighborhoods. I especially plan to highlight the role played by African Americans in this development. This will include examining some of the factors which motivated their movement to New Haven, the problems they faced, their sources of strength (family, church, and community), and the progress they have made. Though focus will be on the changing city as it relates to African Americans, the study cannot and should not ignore the development of New Haven as a whole, for the two are unavoidably intertwined. I will also use general works related to any city: non-fiction, fiction, art, and poetry. These will help to further illustrate the physical aspects and atmosphere of a city in the hope that understanding gained will be transferred to the specific, New Haven. These more general works can also open the door to a variety of related classroom activities.

As an interrelated goal, this unit will attempt to utilize and develop my pupils’ writing skills. Opportunities for motivating various types of written creations will be discussed later. Such assignments will not be isolated but will be integrated with the presentation of historical and other types of material.

Although this particular unit is designed with a fifth grade class in mind, the material to be covered and the activities suggested could easily be adapted to other grade levels. The fact that African Americans are its focus does not render it less valuable to white students who also need to acquire a more complete picture of New Haven’s historical development. Though the same is true for New Haven’s Hispanic student population, I strongly feel that additional material related to the Hispanic role in New Haven’s history must be included for these and all New Haven students. I hope in the future to expand this unit to include material of this type.

The unit’s length can vary greatly, depending upon the needs of each classroom and what is feasible in each setting. Though there is some flexibility in the amount of historical material which may be included, I feel that much of the unit’s purpose will be lost without at least presenting the minimal developments which will be discussed here. Without a knowledge of these facts, the students have less chance of feeling the personal connection and the resulting increased understanding of the events which are designed to lead them to the city and neighborhoods in which they live today.

For my purposes, I see this as an integrated unit taught within a self-contained classroom. It is probably most easily initiated in the area of social studies but could grow from the areas of language arts such as with the reading of an appropriate “city” story or with a similarly related writing assignment. New Haven’s fifth grade focus on American history could easily take a more detailed sidetrip to examine our city. In fact, our city’s history obviously includes the major threads of our nation’s history, helping to make the larger events more meaningful to students as they are encountered. Whatever the approach employed, the minimal continuity of events mentioned in this unit should be maintained.

In launching the historical material to be wavered, attention needs to focus on the company of Puritans led by Theophilus Eaton, the religious man of business and trade, and John Davenport, the practical minded clergyman, who after sailing from Massachusetts Bay reached the harbor by the Indian village of Quinnipiac (Long River Place) on March 30, 1638. We will examine the intertwining religious and economic motives which brought them to this point, factors which to a large extent determined the future development of New Haven.

The words of hymns sung and written throughout this early period vividly reflect the influence which religion had upon all aspects of life. Two examples which might be presented to pupils for examination are included later in the unit.

The physical establishment of the town, relationships with Indians, expansion to other towns, the prominent role which religion continued to play, along with business and education, the plight of the “three judges”, and the facts behind the “Phantom Ship” are a few examples of topics from the history of New Haven Colony which provide material of value and interest to the pupils I teach. The fascination which this grade level usually has with Indians, any type of “phantom”, or a good old fashioned chase should suggest a number of roads to follow in expanding some of these topics.

The unit should now lead us through the inclusion of New Haven Colony as part of Connecticut Colony in 1665, events surrounding the Revolutionary period, incorporation as a city in 1784, and on to the years leading to the Civil War and war itself. From there we will highlight important points of economic, physical, and social change as New Haven moved toward the present. It is difficult to present the amount of specific detail which should be included in each area since I think exact content will vary depending upon the class and their previous background. Considerable information on these early periods may be found in Rollin G. Osterweis’ “Three Centuries of New Haven 1638-1938.” The material is invaluable for teacher reference and also may be modified to a level appropriate for presentation to pupils. “New Haven: An Illustrated History,” edited by Floyd Shumway and Richard Hegel, is similarly valuable. In addition, it is written on a level which may be understood by most fifth grade students and contains excellent maps and thought provoking pictures.

Throughout, references will be made to the roles played by African Americans in New Haven and to the related attitudes and actions taken by white New Haveners at various times in our city’s history. Beginning with the early days of New Haven Colony until the present, when John Daniels serves as New Haven’s first African American mayor, there is much to be examined.

From the early days of New Haven Colony, blacks were present, but initially had little impact upon the community at large. Probably most of them were slaves. Although blacks were not allowed to become members of the Connecticut militia before the war, a few fought in the Revolution, with one being killed during a British invasion. For a short period in 1781-2, Connecticut formed an all black unit. The city’s black population was around 200 in 1790 and rose to over 600 in 1820.

After the War, a number of New Haven leaders spoke out against slavery. Black churches also took an active stance on this issue. Amos Beman (1812-1874) was one of New Haven’s most effective black spokesmen of this time. During the late 18th Century, African Americans of Connecticut achieved the official status of “Free People of Color.” Then in 1784 the Gradual Emancipation Act provided that all those born of slave parents would be free at age twenty-five. (This was later changed to twenty-one.)

Despite these official changes, life for New Haven’s African Americans was still a hard and segregated one. As has been the case throughout history, the black community of New Haven turned within itself to develop its own social, religious, and political system and leadership. The first official African American church, the United African Society, was established in about 1820 on Temple Street with the aid of same concerned whites, especially Simeon Jocelyn, Its first minister was a runaway slave, James W.C. Pennington, and later the famous leader Amos Beman. The church eventually became the Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church and is now ministered by Edwin Edmonds, an equally prominent community figure.

The first “colored school” was established in 1811 with the next coming in 1825. Known as the Artisan Street School, the Spireworth or Mt. Pleasant School, and the Goffe Street School, they were physically quite inadequate and offered only a very basic education. In 1864 a new Goffe Street School was built. A picture of this and other important structures in the African American community may be found in a brochure titled New Haven’s Afro-American Heritage. (See bibliography.)

On July 7, 1969, the Board of Education finally incorporated African American pupils into the school system. Earlier, in 1831, there was a movement by Simeon S. Jocelyn to establish a black college in the city, but general sentiment was strongly opposed, at least partly in response to fear motivated by the Nat Turner insurrection of the same year. Since newspapers of the time spoke out against the proposal, pupils might be asked to write opposing articles giving appropriate arguments for establishing such an institution.

Since the circumstances proved less threatening to whites, Cinque and the Amisted crew gained the sympathy and backing of most New Haveners. From this point forward there was an increase in abolitionist sentiments. With this Fall’s anniversary celebration, considerable information and suggested activities should be available to expand upon the circumstances surrounding New Haven’s role in this famous historical event.

With the North ‘s eventual triumph, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth, the Fourteenth, and the Fifteenth Amendments, the long deserved rights of African Americans were finally won. Freedom, however, did not mean an end to prejudice. Generally housing regained segregated, with most blacks living in the Dixwell area after initially locating in the Oak Street neighborhood. Although some craftsmen and professionals emerged, most were blocked from any real advance by prejudice and the availability of only low paying jobs as servants, drivers, porters and waiters, with no real chance of advancement.

With the advent of both World War I and II, the North in general and New Haven in particular saw a dramatic increase in the number of blacks, mainly from the South. Conflict had brought a greater need for labor in the Northern industrial centers. The military conflicts had both stifled the flow of immigrant labor and cut European demand for cotton. Opportunities for blacks in the South were limited. Pay in the North was higher, schools were better, and life was generally safer away from the intimidation of the Klan. Black migration to New Haven to fill jobs created by the wartime boom saw black population figures grow to about 5,000 in 1930 and to 10,000 in 1950. Already limited housing in black neighborhoods became increasingly crowded, black neighborhoods spread, and whites began to move to the suburbs. (The Yale New Haven Teachers Institute has a volume published in 1989, “American Communities 1880-1989,” which contains a number of units on the development of specific neighborhoods if more information is desired.)

The economic decline which spread through the area from the late 1950’s through the 60’s, the closing of factories, unemployment, an increase in Hispanic population, and the acceleration of white flight to the suburbs had a devastating effect upon the New Haven area, especially upon its African American population. The hope of urban renewal under Mayor Richard C. Lee from 1954-1970 did not fulfill its promise to many of the city’s poor. Complicated social and economic forces were too great to overcome in the manner its planners had hoped. Top this off with the neighborhood disturbances of the 70’s, the increase in drug use and its related crime in the 80’s and 90’s, the seeming failure of the educational system, and the general resumption of economic decline in the area, and you don’t have a very hopeful picture to present to the African American youth of New Haven. Unfortunately, this is reality, but fortunately it is not the entire picture.

In order to become more aware of recent progress, pupils will now examine the positives to be found within the New Haven African American Community. This will include some exposure to individual and some group accomplishments dating back to the early 1900’s, including those covered during the initial historical investigation. “Black New Haven 1920-77” and “Black Women in Greater New Haven” are examples of a number of sources which contain a wealth of what may seem a hodgepodge of isolated facts about black New Haveners. Taken as a whole, however, they let us know that in the face of general adversity, much was going on in New Haven’s African American neighborhoods, progress was being made.

Today, schools, including faculty and administration, are integrated, New Haven’s mayor and former superintendent of schools are African Americans, black churches and their clergy are major forces in community and city life, African Americans are prominent in the city’s leading businesses, the political structure of New Haven is amply represented by blacks, and African Americans have assumed a visible role in nearly every phase of New Haven’s life. When compared with the early days of the Colony and measured against the negative forces which have and still do exert themselves against the black Community, this change can certainly be termed progress.

(Other references which present the accomplishments of African American New Haveners of now and from the past are listed in my bibliography. )

Finally, in order to confirm and expand my pupils’ awareness that similar positives still do exist, that progress is still being made, and they still can be part of a better New Haven, they will be asked to investigate their neighborhood as it is today, searching for these sustaining elements.

The pupils who attend my school came from a variety of neighborhoods. This hopefully will provide a variation in material gathered. If this variety of neighborhoods does not exist in another classroom using this unit, lessons will still be applicable and should yield positive results. Many of them have been designed to examine the city as a whole.

Besides the three lesson plans which I have spelled out in detail, activities will include formulating questions for interviews with family and friends, conducting these interviews, and reporting the results to the class; compiling oral history from an older friend, neighbor, or family member; gathering positive newspaper and magazine articles related to both New Haven in particular and cities in general; arranging presentations by members of community, religious, political, and/or social groups from the city; taking a field trip designed to view recent positive physical changes, or those in progress; reading and reacting to fictional stories and poetry about the city; writing “city” fiction and poetry, and finally looking at themselves to find the positives which they each are contributing or might contribute in the future.

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In selecting three lesson plans to elaborate upon, I have attempted to include a variety of experiences which will develop different aspects of the unit’s objectives. Although there is obvious overlapping, different academic skills are also developed in each.


Subject Matter Area  Social Studies: Map Work

Vocabulary  Compass rose, continent, colony


Ability to recognize maps of early New Haven (1641 and 1748) and to identify changes in them.
Understanding of the geographic relationship of New Haven to Connecticut, the United States, North America, and the World.
Ability to map out a portion of some New Haven neighborhood.
Despite years of exposure, I am constantly surprised that my pupils have so little awareness of basic geographic locations. I am equally amazed how quickly and eagerly most improve their ability to use and understand a map. As a result, I think it necessary at a very early point to establish the location of New Haven in relationship to Connecticut, the United States, North America, and the World. Otherwise I can easily imagine going through the entire unit and discovering some pupils still lacking this understanding. Also, since one of my main objectives is for pupils to see themselves as part of an historical whole, I think the same should be true of their ability to see their place in the larger geographical picture.

The means of establishing an understanding of these geographical relationships is probably best left to the judgment of the individual teacher using the appropriate maps and activities suited to the particular class.

Once the understanding has been established, maps of New Haven Colony as part of Connecticut and those showing the physical lay-out of early New Haven will have more meaning to pupils. There are a number of copies of these early maps available, but the clearest that I have seen are found in Shunway and Hegel’s “New Haven: An Illustrated History.” There are three I would present for discussion as we cover the colony’s beginning days: the Brockett map of 1641, the three separate geographic areas of 1656, and the plan of the town in 1748 including buildings.

I think that exact questions for discussion should grow from the individual teacher and his/her group’s responses but should aim to highlight the physical plan and possible reasons it was chosen, the importance of the Green and what was placed upon it, how this area of the city appears to have changed in the first hundred years, and finally, ways in which this area has changed and/or is similar today.

I would then have the class map a portion of the area around the school. This would be done together under my guidance and would lead to an individual assignment in which each pupil would map a portion of her/his neighborhood including streets and structures in a manner similar to the 1748 map.

Depending on circumstances, an ambitious group might decide to map the area around the Green for comparison and discussion.


Subject Matter Area  Social Studies


Increased knowledge and appreciation of contributions made by New Haven African Americans, past and present.
Ability to compile and present biographical material on New Haven African Americans, past and present.
One way of discovering the positives occurring within the African American community throughout New Haven’s history is to examine the contributions made by its various members. There are a variety of books and pamphlets (see bibliography) available which chronicle these accomplishments. Additional material may also be found at the African and New Haven Historical Societies.

Towards the unit’s conclusion, when pupils have a fairly clear picture of the historical past, I would ask each pupil to research two or three African Americans who have played a note-worthy role in New Haven’s history. It seems best to have pupils make their own selections if possible. After a few days of preparation, with the appropriate guidance, the material gathered on each individual would be presented as a report to the entire class with follow-up discussion as needed. It is important that pupils are clear where each person falls chronologically in the city’s history.

As an example of how such an investigation should enhance pupils’ understanding of related historical events while at the same time helping to establish a feeling of pride in the accomplishments of African Americans from the past, I shall briefly examine the life of Edward Bouchet, illustrating how these goals might be achieved.

Born in 1852, Edward Bouchet was to become the first African American to earn a Ph.D. degree in the United States. Edward’s father had come to New Haven in 1824 as the servant of John B. Robertsen, of Charleston, South Carolina, who was entering his freshman year at Yale. The elder Bouchet remained in New Haven when Edward was born.

Edward’s first school experiences were at Sally Wilson’s Artisan Street Colored School, one of the primary-level “colored schools” which were first established in 1811. These were charity schools which also received special allotments from state funds. They were privately operated, primarily by women reformers. It was not until 1869 that the Board of Education incorporated African American students into the New Haven Public School System.

Despite the generally inadequate physical conditions and rudimentary curriculum existing in these “colored schools”, Bouchet then entered and graduated from Hopkins Grammar School, before enrolling at Yale, five years after the Civil War’s end. These achievements were made despite the fact that the War had not brought much improvement to the everyday life of New Haven African Americans.

At Yale, Bouchet became a member of Phi Beta Kappa and eventually the college’s first Black graduate. He went on to graduate school, where he studied science and in 1876 became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in the United States. Most of his life was devoted to improving education in Philadelphia and working as a dedicated member of the N.A.A.C.P. In 1918, he died in his home on Bradley Street and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

This information was taken primarily from the works of Shumway and Osterweis but is touched upon in most histories of New Haven. Shumway’s text contains an excellent photograph, and “New Haven’s Afro-American Heritage” pictures one of the early “colored schools.” (See bibliography.)

As should be apparent, an examination of Bouchet’s life by pupils not only reveals the individual accomplishments and triumphs of this man, but also places them in their historical setting, making both more meaningful to pupils. Further development might include an investigation of Mary Goodman, the African American woman who, while Bouchet was a student at Yale, left her property to establish a scholarship for black students in the Yale Divinity School.

Below, I am including a short list of suggested people from the many possible subjects, together with a very brief statement on some aspect of each person’s contributions.

After these reports have been presented, I would then ask pupils to research at least one African American who is living in New Haven but who has not gained the same prominence as those just studied but whom the pupil considers a positive, contributing member of our city. Subjects might be relatives, family friends, neighbors, church members or people connected with the schools. The results of this research would be presented in the same manner. I would encourage the use of interviews, tapings, photographs, or even a visit by the individual being researched.

When all reporting is completed, subjects should be placed chronologically into categories based upon the area of their contributions. (For some individuals there will be more than one.) The list could be expanded to include other individuals whose accomplishments are known. Categories might vary some but should include politics, education, civic leadership, economic development, religion, and sports. In this way, pupils should be able to more clearly see the variety and range of African American contributions throughout New Haven’s history. Hopefully the inclusion of people with whom pupils are personally familiar will demonstrate the existence of positives on a more intimate level, encouraging positives in the pupil him/herself.

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Bristol Baker: Slave and Revolutionary soldier.
Edward Bouchet: First black graduate of Yale.
Mary Goodman: Established scholarship for black students of Yale Divinity School.
George Williamson Crawford: First black corporation counsel for New Haven.
Levi Jackson: First African American captain of Yale football team.
Constance Baker Motley: Judge and politician.
Laura Belle McCoy: First African American woman on the Board of Aldermen.
Earnest Saunders: Civil engineer. Founded Connecticut African American Society.
Ella Scantlebury: First African American and first woman City Treasurer.
Helene Grant: Teacher and civic leader.
Hannah Gray: Established hame for “indigent colored families.”
Leo Clark, Sr.: Founded house and window cleaning service in 30’s.
Rufus Greenlee: Vaudeville dancer; opened Monterey Club famous in40’s and 50’s for jazz performances.
John Dow: First African American Superintendent of Schools.
John Daniels: City’s first African American Mayor.
Susan Lincoln: Dean of Students, South Central Community College.
Henry Parker: State Treasurer; politician.
Edwin Edmonds: Prominent clergyman and Board of Education member.


Subject Matter Area  Readings Language Arts

“Thank You, M’am”

Willow-wild, daybed, gas plate, latching onto, barren, stoop

“Hard But Soft”



Ability to recognize the existence of positives in what many would initially view as negative city setting, populated by potential criminals.

Ability to express through a short story or poem some thoughts motivated by either or both of these works.
In the course of discussing the problems encountered by African Americans during the more recent history of New Haven, there should be ample opportunity for pupils to share some of the negatives which they have experienced or observed in their city or neighborhood. Though during such discussions, on the surface there is often an appearance of admiration for the rebellious and bold, someone who will go against the system, even if the rebellion is unlawful, there is also a deeper hint of shame and desire to disassociate from the negatives being discussed. While all of these feelings are understandable, they do little to foster understanding of people and events or to help to develop a positive feeling towards one’s city, neighborhood, and self.

Hopefully some of the historical background presented in this unit will serve to explain some of the influencing forces which often motivate an individual caught among the pressures of an urban setting. This background should enable pupils to better understand, though not always accept, the negative behavior they often see or participate in.

In examining the poem and short story which I suggest, they will be encouraged to look beneath the surface to discover possible motivation and to recognize the existence of any positives. Armed with a historical background and experiences gained through the examination and discussion of poetry and prose related to city experiences, pupils then may find another way of finding positives in similar individuals and settings in their own lives. There is a wide variety of selections the teacher may choose from. I have selected two from the many to illustrate my approach.

“Hard But Soft” is a short poem found in “I Heard a Scream in the Street: Poetry by Young People in the City.” It was written by William Barbour, Jr. of New York City. It tells of six “Negro” boys brashly walking down the street; three curse, and three hold a knife in hand. An old woman in the path of a car with failed brakes cannot be saved by the dashing boys. Like the human beings they are, the boys cry.

“Thank You, M’am”, a short story by Langston Hughes, introduces us to a less than capable, slightly frightened purse snatcher named Roger and his imposing, yet compassionate victim, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. After easily subduing her attacker, Mrs. Jones deals with Roger with an honesty and caring that leaves him completely disarmed. In parting, she gives him ten dollars for the blue suede shoes which were the motivation for his attempted robbery. Overwhelmed by her treatment of him, Roger is unable to express his feelings, and they part without a “Thank you, m’am”.

Both pieces suggest a variety of topics for discussion and/or written response. The following are some possibilities. where do you think the six boys were going? Give them names, and tell us something about each boy. Bring out their strengths and weaknesses. Why were they acting so tough? Who was the old woman? Why did they try to save her? Did the accident have any long-range effect on the boys? Do you know people who act like the boys? Why do they act that way? Have you ever acted that way? Why? Was Roger like the six boys? Would he have tried to save the old woman? Why did Mrs. Jones take him home? Tell us what her life is and has been like. Do the same for Roger. Why did she admit she was ashamed of some of the things she had done? Why did she give him money for the shoes? What does “shoes got by devilish means will burn your feet” mean? Is that saying true? What would Roger say if he could express what he was feeling? Do you know anyone like Roger or Mrs. Jones? Will Roger ever see Mrs. Jones again? Might what she did have any effect upon his life?”

These questions and others which these pieces might suggest should lead pupils beyond an analysis of the characters and events discussed. Hopefully, they will search for motivation, for circumstances which influence others and themselves.

After reading and discussing both works, a follow-up written assignment is recommended. Any of the more provoking of the above suggestions could be used, or pupils might write a continuation of either work, developing another situation involving the established characters. Sharing the results would be a positive conclusion to this lesson. These activities might take more than one session depending upon the teacher’s judgment.

Two examples of hymns which reflect the influence of religion upon the early development of New Haven.

Psalm IXV: Thy praise alone. Tune: York

At the opening of the first College bidding erected in New Haven, in 1718, the congregation united in singing this psalm in Sternhold and Hopkins’s version.

Thy praise alone, o Lord, doth reign
In Sion thine own hill:
Their vows to thee they do maintain,
And evermore fulfill.
Of thy great justice hear, O God,
our health of thee doth rise:
The hope of all the earth abroad,
And the sea-coasts likewise.
With strength thou art beset about,
And compast with thy pow’r:
Thou mak’st the mountains strong and stout,
To stand in ev’ry show’r.
The folk that dwell thro’out the earth
Shall dread thy signs to see:
Which morn and evening with great mirth
Send praises up to thee.

Hymn: O god, Beneath thy guiding hand. Tune: Duke Street

These wards were written by The Reverend Leonard Bacon, B.A. 1820, minister of the First Church of New Haven from 1825 to 1881 and Member of the Yale faculty and of the Corporation, to mark New Haven’s Bicentennial in 1838.

O God, beneath thy guiding hand,
Our exiled fathers crossed the sea;
And when they trod the wintry strand,
With prayer and psalm they worshipped Thee.
Thou heard’st, well pleased, the song, the prayer:
Thy blessing came; and still its power
Shall onward, through all ages, bear
The mem’ry of that holy hour.
Laws, freedom, truth, and faith in God
Came with those exiles o’er the waves;
And where their pilgrim feet have trod,
The God they trusted guards their graves.
And here thy name, o God of love,
Their children’s children shall adore,
Till these eternal hills remove,
And spring adorns the earth no more.

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With the exception of Herbert Gutman’s study, most references listed here could be used easily by most fifth grade pupils, as well as teachers. In a few cases, teacher guidance or revision might be necessary for some students.

Bingham, Michael. “New Haven, The Official Guide to New Haven’s 350th Birthday Celebration.” New Haven: New Haven Advocate, 1988.Interesting articles and pictures from a number of points in New Haven’s history.

Fraser, Bruce. “The Land of Steady Habits: A Brief History of Connecticut.” Hartford: Connecticut Historical Commission, 1988. Main focus is on Connecticut with little mention of blacks. Some interesting pictures and sketches.

Gutman, Herbert G. “The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom; 1750-1925.” New York: Vintage Books, 1976. Mainly of value for material on migration of African Americans to the North.

Hughes, Langston. “The Best Short Stories of Negro Writers.” New York: Little Brown, 1967. Collection of short including “Thank You, M’am”. See lesson plans.

Larrick, Nancy. “I Heard A Scream in the Street: Poetry by Young People in the City.” New York: Dell, 1970. Pertinent poems. See lesson plans.

Osterweis, Rollin G. “Three Centuries of New Haven. 1638-1938.” New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953. Valuable examination of the first three hundred years of New Haven history.

Randall, Dudley. “The Black Poets.” New York: Bantam Books, 1971. Examines African American poetry from times of slavery through the 60’s. Same poems are relevant to this unit. Some are not suitable for this grade level without modification.

Roth, David M. “Connecticut History and Culture: An Historical Overview and Resource Guide for Teachers.” Hartford: Connecticut Historical Commission, 1985. Contains a section on African American history, much of which is pertinent to New Haven.

Saunders, Ernest. “The Autobiography of a Dual American.” New Haven: Advocate Press, 1979. Interesting personal account of African American New Havener’s struggle for success.

Saunders, Ernest. “Blacks in the Connecticut National Guard: A Pictorial and Chronological History. 1870-1919.” New Haven: New Haven Afro-American Historical Society, 1977. Most sections would be best read or interpreted by the teacher. Contains excellent photographs.

Shumway, Floyd and Hegel, Richard. “New Haven: An Illustrated History.” Windsor Publications, 1987. Interesting text. Excellent maps and thought provoking pictures.

Stewart, Daniel. “Black New Haven. 1920-1977.” New Haven: Advocate Press, 1977. Presents a picture of African American lives in New Haven from 1920’s until the late 70’s. Discusses a number of prominent black New Haveners.

Stewart, Daniel. “Black Women in Greater New Haven.” New Haven:Southern New England Telephone, 1986. Information on many African American women, past and present.

White, David. “Heroes: A Look at Black History in Connecticut.” New Haven: Southern New England Telephone, 1986. Bristol Baker is the only New Havener mentioned in this short pamphlet.

———. “New Haven’s Afro-American Heritage.” New Haven:New Haven Preservation Trust. Small but excellent brochure containing information and pictures of historic structures and individuals from New Haven’s African American past

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