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Only a fraction of what is known about Madison’s earliest African American settlers and the vibrant and cohesive communities they formed has been preserved in traditional sources. The rest is contained in the hearts and minds of their descendants. Seeing a pressing need to preserve these experiences, lifelong Madison resident Muriel Simms collected the stories of twenty-five African Americans whose families arrived, survived, and thrived here in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While some struggled to find work, housing, and acceptance, they describe a supportive and enterprising community that formed churches, businesses, and social clubs—and frequently came together in the face of adversity and conflict. A brief history of African American settlement in Madison begins the book to set the stage for the oral histories.
About the Author
Muriel Simms is a lifelong Madison resident and longtime educator in the Madison Metropolitan School District. She received her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2002 and serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at Edgewood College.
Deftly drawing upon original sources and showcasing an impressive roster of oral histories, Settlin': Stories of Madison's Early African American Families provides a brief but succinctly informative history of African American settlement in Madison, Wisconsin. Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of two appendices, four pages of Notes, and a five page Index, Settlin': Stories of Madison's Early African American Families is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Black History & Wisconsin History collections and supplemental studies curriculums. It should be noted for the personal reading list of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that Settlin': Stories of Madison's Early African American Families is also available in a digital book format. (Midwest Book Review, James A. Cox)