Slave Songbook

The Case:

The president of the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum in Culver City, California has discovered an unusual book in his late mother’s extraordinary collection of African American artifacts.

The small, cloth-bound book, titled Slave Songs of the United States, has a publication date of 1867 and contains a collection of 136 plantation songs.

Could this be the first book of African American spirituals ever published?

History Detectives explores the coded messages and the melodies that laid the foundation of modern blues, gospel and protest songs of future generations.


Discuss this story

Season 6, Episode 11

Wes Cowan Location:
California and Washington D.C.

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