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African American Passages Episode 2: The Long Journey of Omar Ibn Said

In the second episode of African American Passages: Black Lives in the 19th Century, John W. Kluge Center Distinguished Visiting Scholar and Georgetown University history professor Adam Rothman looks at the story of Omar Ibn Said. Rothman is joined on the podcast by Mary-Jane Deeb, the Chief of the Library of Congress’s African and Middle Eastern Division, and historian Sylviane Diouf.

Ibn Said was a Fula scholar from the West African kingdom of Futa Toro, captured around 1807 and sold into slavery in the United States. He left behind a remarkable autobiography, the only known autobiography of an enslaved person in the U.S. written in Arabic. Rothman wrote about his experience transcribing documents in the Omar Ibn Said Collection at the Library of Congress. He also previously wrote for us about a letter from an enslaved man to his owner, former President James K. Polk.

After listening to the podcast, consider joining Rothman and the Kluge Center for an event on February 21 at 4:00 pm. Rothman will be talking with Jesse J. Holland, award-winning journalist, novelist, and author of “Black Men Built the Capitol: Discovering African-American History in and Around Washington” (2007).


Introducing African-American Passages: Black Lives in the 19th Century

During his time as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar here at the John W. Kluge Center, Georgetown University history professor Adam Rothman recorded an extraordinary series of podcasts. In the podcasts, Rothman examines documents from the Library of Congress’ manuscript collection relating to the lives of African-Americans in the 19th century. He found a number of […]

How to Think About Data: A Conversation with Christine Borgman

Members of the Scholars Council are appointed by the Librarian of Congress to advise on matters related to scholarship at the Library, with special attention to the Kluge Center and the Kluge Prize. The Council includes scholars, writers, researchers, and scientists. “Insights” is featuring some of the work of this group of thinkers. Dan Turello […]

“My Dear Master”: An Enslaved Blacksmith’s Letters to a President

An unusual letter arrived in the mail for the Tennessee planter James K. Polk shortly after he won the 1844 presidential election. Written from Carrollton, Mississippi, and dated November 28, 1844, the letter began “My Dear Master” and was signed by “Blacksmith Harry.” Here’s what Harry wrote: Suffer your faithful survant Harry to say a […]

February 2019 Arrivals at Kluge

February 2019 is here, and the State of the Kluge Center is strong. This month, in addition to 16 interns, the Kluge Center welcomed several new scholars into residence. Here are the projects they will be working on: Robin Bates, an incoming Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Fellow, arrived from the University of Cambridge. […]