The Huntsville Gazette, 1893: A Year in the Life of Black America

In 1893, it had been thirty years since enslaved people in the South had been made free with the Emancipation Proclamation. During the violent and all-to-brief period of Reconstruction (1865-1877), freed people began — against all odds — to exercise their civic rights and build strong, self-sufficient communities. That continued even after the “redemption” of the region — its return to the status quo of white supremacy, now maintained through Jim Crow laws and racial terror.

Instrumental in chronicling this ever-changing racial landscape were Black newspapers like the Huntsville Gazette, a weekly published from 1879 to 1894. This exhibit provides a snapshot of the Gazette‘s coverage of issues about and important to the Black community by highlighting one article per issue from the year 1893. That year was chosen not because it was extraordinary but because it was perfectly ordinary — that is, filled with its own stories and concerns that follow from 1892 and flow into 1894.

The content in this exhibit is presented in two forms:

  • In a timeline, which provides a transcription of the first sentence or two of the article, linked to the full page in the Chronicling America newspaper database. There, items have also been loosely grouped into themes.
  • In thematic galleries, which provide a clipping of the top of each article, linked to the the full page in the Chronicling America newspaper database. Within these, items are presented roughly chronologically.

Timeline

The timeline includes transcriptions of article content. Like many periodicals past and present, the Gazette was frequently plagued with typos, which we have let stand as they are, to accurately represent the original.

All images are in the public domain or have no restrictions attached, unless otherwise noted.

For the best experience, especially when on a mobile device, click here to view the timeline in its own window.

For a more topic-based approach, view the stories in their thematic galleries.

Thematic Galleries

Any number of themes and interests might be recognized in or drawn from the news and editorial coverage of the Gazette during its run, including 1893. This is an attempt to shape the set of articles into groups that allow for broader commentary.

Click on an image below to go to that gallery, or — since all galleries are on the same page — simply start with News Briefs and scroll down.

News Briefs

Justice & Injustice

Inequity & Prejudice

Education

In the South

On the World’s Stage

For a more week-to-week experience, view these stories via the timeline.

Credits

This exhibit was curated by Kate Matheny in March 2021.

Newspaper content is digitally clipped from or transcribed from the originals at Chronicling America. Over 700 issues of the Gazette were digitized for the NDNP grant program by the University of Alabama Libraries’ Special Collections.

The visualization was generated using the open-source tool TimelineJS from Knight Lab, with images sourced from from Wikimedia Commons.