IN SEARCH OF THE RACIAL FRONTIER: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990

IN SEARCH OF THE RACIAL FRONTIER: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990

(Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in History, 1999)

Conventional wisdom has it that there were no blacks in the West, but In Search of the Racial Frontier powerfully demonstrates otherwise. Beginning with Esteban, a black slave who accompanied a party of Spanish explorers in Texas and the Southwest in the 1500s, historian Quintard Taylor traces the history of blacks in the West. In an absorbing chronicle he documents the experiences of black explorers, mountain men, cowboys, buffalo soldiers, and black women who joined clubs and "progressive associations" and helped found all-black towns.   Starting in the early 16th century, when the first Spanish-speaking black slaves of the conquistadors arrived in Texas and New Mexico, Taylor carries his study through the civil rights era. Dispelling the lingering stereotype of rugged, solitary black cowboys and buffalo soldiers, Taylor shows that black Westerners were predominantly urban workers--waiters cooks, doctors, lawyers, restaurant and barbershop owners, schoolteachers, newspaper editors--who built community institutions (fraternal organizations, women's clubs) while striving to integrate themselves into the larger society. Among the many facts that will surprise readers is this: of the original 46 settlers who founded Los Angeles in 1781, 26 were black or biracial. Marshaling a wealth of primary source material, Taylor documents black Westerners' participation in all aspects of life in the American West and, in the process, reclaims an important dimension of African American history.  Wide-ranging in scope and thoroughly researched, In Search of the Racial Frontier is an invaluable addition to any American history bookshelf.

About the Author
Quintard Taylor is Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle's Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era.  He is coeditor with Shirley Ann Wilson Moore of African American Women Confront the West, 1600-2000 and co-editor of Seeking El Dorado: African Americans in California, 1769-1997 with Lawrence B.  de Graaf and Kevin Mulroy. He is also the author of over forty articles. His work on African American Western History, African American, African, Afro-Brazilian, and comparative ethnic history has appeared in the Western Historical Quarterly, Pacific Historical Review, Oregon Historical Quarterly, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Journal of Negro History, Arizona and the West, Western Journal of Black Studies, Polish-American Studies, and the Journal of Ethnic Studies, among other journals.

Taylor is the website director of the award-winning portal  This 3,000 page website is the largest free and ungated reference center on African American history on the Internet. is dedicated to providing reference materials to the general public on African American history in the United States and on the history of people of African ancestry around the world.

Product Details:

•  Paperback: 416 pages
•  Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. (May 1, 1999)
•  Language: English
•  ISBN-10: 0393318893
•  ISBN-13: 978-0393318890

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