Black Bangor: African Americans in a Maine Community, 1880-1950
Blacks have lived and worked in Maine as early as the seventeenth century, but historically have constituted less than one percent of Maine’s population. Probably for this reason, books on Blacks in New England have largely ignored the experience of African American Mainers. Black Bangor is the first major published study of a Black community in Maine.
This tightly woven case study examines the African American community in Bangor during its heyday, 1880–1950, the period that saw an unprecedented migration of Blacks to that city. Blacks migrated to Bangor not just from other New England states, but from the Caribbean and Canadian Maritime Provinces as well, creating a heterogeneous community with roots in two hemispheres. Constituting an “ultraminority” in Bangor (according to the census, Blacks never numbered more than 300 souls during this period), this diverse community nonetheless came together to establish an impressive range of institutions, including local chapters of the NAACP and Odd Fellows, as well as of Mothers and Junior Mothers Clubs. Concentrated in an area known as the Parker Street neighborhood, Black women in Bangor became domestics and cooks, caterers and beauticians, clerks and stenographers. Men worked as loggers, teamsters, porters, chefs, and barbers; a few owned businesses.
Organized thematically, with sections on migration, labor, daily life, and community, Black Bangor’s topics include not just migration patterns, work, and religious and cultural organizations, but also African American homes, furniture, clothing, and foodways. Elgersman Lee also examines race relations and depictions of Blacks in the local media, and draws comparisons between the experiences of Bangor’s African American population and those of Blacks in other New England cities.
This fascinating and exhaustive study will appeal to anyone from Maine, as well as those interested in African American history and the rich texture of the region’s cultural life.
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1930 Bangor city African American Americans in Bangor Bangor city direc Bangor city directory Bangor Daily Bangor High School Bangor Museum Bangor Public Library Bangor Record Bangor Room Bangor Symphony Orchestra Black Bangor Black Canadians Black population Black women Blacks in Bangor born in Maine Brooks Davis Brunswick Canada Canadian Census Center for History Church City of Bangor city's Club Company daughter decade dollars per month early England Fifteenth 1930 Fire Insurance Map Fourteenth 1920 Heughan Households Ibid ILLUSTRATION Janie Ku Klux Klan labor Leek living in Bangor Maine's manuscript census Martini Mason Matheas migration Milton Geary Mothers Museum and Center NAACP Negro number of Blacks O'Ree Obituary Panzy Parker Street percent Peters piano porters Portland purchased railroad Record of Mortgage rent residents Robert Mahoney Sanborn Fire Insurance Simmons Smallwood Stakeman Sterling Dymond Talbot Thirteenth 1910 Twelfth U.S. Bureau United University of Maine Warner wife York