Thursday, December 13, 2007


WOODSON, CARTER G. Known as the "Father of Negro His­tory," Carter Godwin Woodson did more than any single in­dividual to break the color-line in the writing and teaching of American history. Although many black historians had preceded him, Woodson deserves the credit for "rescuing" African American history from neglect, making it an important and respected discipline within the historical profession.

Born of ex-slave parents in Virginia in 1875, Woodson received his education at Berea College (Litt. B., 1903), the University ofChicago (M. A., 1908) and Harvard (Ph.D., 1912). Between 1903 and 1906 he served as a school supervisor in the Philippines, where he mastered the Spanish language. Before returning to the United States in 1907, Woodson traveled throughout Europe and, in addition, studied at the Sorbonne (University of Paris) for a semester. Following the completion of his doctorate, he held a number of university teaching and administrative posi­tions, including short stints as dean at Howard University and, later, at West Virginia State Institute.

In 1915, Woodson and several colleagues founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The purposes of the Association, according to Woodson, were "the collection of socio­logical and historical data on the Negro, the study of peoples of African blood, the publishing of books in this field, and the promotion of harmony between the races by acquainting the one with the other." Under the aegis of the Association, Woodson began publication of the"Journal of Negro History on January 1, 1916. Modeled after the prestigious American Historical Review, Woodson described the Journal as the "first systematic effort of the Negro to treat the records of the race scientifically and to publish the findings to the world."

W'oodson remained editor of the Journal of Negro History until his death in 1950. In addition, he was responsible for the found­ing of the Associated Publishers, Inc. in 1921. This independent affiliate of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History was established to fill the void created by publishers who traditionally had avoided publishing books related to Afro-American history. Moreover, in 1926 Woodson successfully launched the annual observance of "Negro History Week." Replaced in 1976 by Black History Month, "Negro History Week" was held during the second week of February, coinciding with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (February 14) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12). See also: BLACK HISTORY MONTH.

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