This is my tenth and last photo essay dedicated to Charles Farrell's photographs of fishing communities on the North Carolina coast in the 1930s and '40s. I think it's time to talk about what happened to him, and why he and his photographs were forgotten for so long.
The struggle of enslaved African Americans to get access to books, and most particularly the Bible, and the efforts of slaveholders to keep them from doing so, is one of the central themes in the history of American slavery.
For half a century, James Earll "Jim" Grant was there when people needed him, standing by the side of the persecuted and oppressed: migrant and seasonal farm workers, tenants facing eviction, victims of police brutality and anyone else who yearned for justice.
When Charles Farrell took these photographs, Salter Path was the only settlement of any kind on the western two-thirds of Bogue Banks. Lights were few and far between and on clear nights you felt as if you could see every star in the heavens.
My friend Betty Motes recently told me a story about a flotilla of boatmen and their families that used to come from the shipyards of Camden, New Jersey, and spend their winters on Clubfoot Creek.
Whenever I visit Plymouth, N.C., a small town near where I grew up, the first thing I think of is the massacre of African Americans that happened there on April 20, 1864.
In the 1880s fishermen began to leave Carteret County, N.C., and go to the mullet fishing grounds of Southwest Florida, where they made new homes in places such as Cortez and Punta Gorda.
This is a photograph of Charles P. Dey and his brother John Wesley Dey’s menhaden oil and scrap mill at Lennoxville, a mile and half east of Beaufort, in Carteret County, N.C., circa 1890.
Whether they were in New York City, Boston or Hartford, the Sons and Daughters of North Carolina kept a close eye on what was happening back home in the Tar Heel State.
On January 12, 1934, the New York City chapter of the Sons and Daughters of North Carolina held an Emancipation Day celebration at Mother AME Zion Church in Harlem, one of the most historic churches in America.
In the spring of 1940, the Sons and Daughters of North Carolina held its annual dance at the Renaissance Casino, one of Harlem's most famous ballrooms.
While doing research on her family’s history, Yvette Porter Moore discovered that her ancestors had organized a chapter of the Sons and Daughters of North Carolina in Worcester, Mass., in the fall of 1888.
The second time that the Sons and Daughters of North Carolina made national headlines was the 1st of December, 1898, when they gathered at Association Hall in Brooklyn, N.Y., to protest the Wilmington, N.C., massacre and coup d’etat of 1898.
The first time that the Sons and Daughters of North Carolina attracted national attention was a winter night in Brooklyn, New York, in 1897. Composed of African American migrants who had left North Carolina, the group was holding a memorial service in honor of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
A little more than a century ago, a group of seagoing people from the “Down East” part of Carteret County, N.C., settled on the shores of Lake Erie and began commercial fishing.
In the autumn of 1938, the photographer Charles Farrell visited a gang of mullet fishermen from Varnamtown while they hauled their nets on Bald Head Island, down in the far southeast corner of the North Carolina coast.
Through the eyes of Sneads Ferry's oldest residents, I came to see Charles Farrell's photographs as a window into a time when most of the village's people still made their livings from the sea.
When I was in Southport several years ago, I carried Charles Farrell's photographs to an old menhaden fisherman named Charles “Pete” Joyner. At the time, Mr. Joyner was 93 years old.
At the Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill, I found a remarkable collection of oral history interviews from the North Carolina coast during the Great Depression in the 1930s.
The thing that moved me most about Roy G. Taylor’s book Sharecroppers: The Way We Really Were is the way that that he remembered so many of the small things about a sharecropper’s life in eastern North Carolina.
To celebrate Pride Month, I’d like to share an excerpt from a work-in-progress, tentatively titled The Light Beneath the Waves. This scene features Betty Somers, one of the first women to serve in Marine Corps Women's Reserve. She was a pioneer in more ways than one.
At the turn of the 20th century, the Red Shirts were what we today would call a white nationalist militia group. Bedecked in red trousers and shirts, they barricaded polling sites, shot into homes and generally terrorized those who supported black voting rights.
At the Boston Athenaeum, I discovered that the young Abraham Galloway was bound for Haiti in 1861 and was determined to drive the United States into a civil war to free his people.
On a summer day in 1900, an old Confederate general stood before a white supremacy rally of thousands in a hamlet on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp.
On the 30th of Sept. 1898, North Carolina newspaper publisher Richard Benbury Creecy wrote, “We are standing on the edge of a race conflict that will shock humanity.” He was not talking about Wilmington, N.C., though, as we might expect, but about another coastal town, Elizabeth City.