The First Black Archaeologist: A Life of John Wesley Gilbert by John Lee is a story of a boy who grows up in poverty, facing racism and violence, a boy who seemed like he would have no opportunities. But thanks to dedicated teachers – both black and white –, his unceasing drive to learn, and the opportunities that unexpectedly presented themselves, he was able to rise from those humble beginnings and achieve in a lot of different areas. My book takes this story from his boyhood in Augusta, Georgia, through his early education in Georgia. It takes him to his years at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was only the third African American graduate. Then it takes him to Athens, Greece, where he was one of the very first students of the new American School of Classical Studies at Athens. It was the first research institution that the United States had ever planted overseas. He became one of the first 50 Americans of any race, ethnicity, or background to do professional archaeological work in Greece.
— FROM THE BACK OF THE BOOK —
The First Black Archaeologist reveals the untold story of a pioneering African American classical scholar, teacher, community leader, and missionary. Born into slavery in rural Georgia, John Wesley Gilbert (1863-1923) gained national prominence in the early 1900s, but his accomplishments are little known today. Using evidence from archives across the U.S. and Europe, from contemporary publications, and from newly discovered documents, this book chronicles, for the first time, Gilbert's remarkable journey. As we follow Gilbert from the segregated public schools of Augusta, Georgia, to the lecture halls of Brown University, to his hiring as the first black faculty member of Augusta's Paine Institute, and through his travels in Greece, western Europe, and the Belgian Congo, we learn about the development of African American intellectual and religious culture, and about the enormous achievements of an entire generation of black students and educators.
Readers interested in the early development of American archaeology in Greece will find an entirely new perspective here, as Gilbert was one of the first Americans of any race to do archaeological work in Greece. Those interested in African American history and culture will gain an invaluable new perspective on a leading yet hidden figure of the late 1800s and early 1900s, whose life and work touched many different aspects of the African American experience.
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— LEARN MORE! —
John Wesley Gilbert https://www.worldhistory.org/John_Wesley_Gilbert/
John's UCSB web page https://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/john-w-i-lee/
Paine University https://www.paine.edu/web/mycampus/home
American School of Classical Studies at Athens https://www.ascsa.edu.gr
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— CHAPTERS —
0:39 What is the book about and who is John Wesley Gilbert?
5:28 Why did John write the book?
12:13 What was the most interesting thing you learned during your research?
16:12 What is something that everyone should know about Professor Gilbert and your book?
22:20 Did you have any involvement with the community in Augusta, Georgia while researching and working on this book?
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Christopher Columbus: Life and Voyages in the Age of Exploration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kodTlQrLFnM
— ATTRIBUTIONS —
The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:
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The First Black Archaeologist: A Life of John Wesley Gilbert Book Cover
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About the Author
Cite This Work
Macquire, K. (2022, February 25). The First Black Archaeologist: A Life of John Wesley Gilbert with John Lee. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2722/the-first-black-archaeologist-a-life-of-john-wesle/
Macquire, Kelly. "The First Black Archaeologist: A Life of John Wesley Gilbert with John Lee." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified February 25, 2022. https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2722/the-first-black-archaeologist-a-life-of-john-wesle/.
Macquire, Kelly. "The First Black Archaeologist: A Life of John Wesley Gilbert with John Lee." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 25 Feb 2022. Web. 02 Feb 2023.