American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Featured Document: Free Blacks in the South: The Life of Thomas Day

Published March 30, 2011

Last October historian Peter H. Wood, professor emeritus at Duke University, gave a talk at the Graduate Center sponsored by ASHP/CML and the Ph.D. programs in History and Art History about Winslow Homer’s recently rediscovered 1866 painting, Near Andersonville (marking the publication of his new book on the subject). He was kind enough to also record a podcast conversation with ASHP/CML’s Donna Thompson Ray about the life of North Carolina cabinetmaker Thomas Day, and how his experience as a free black characterized nineteenth-century race relations in the South. Peter assesses Day’s life as a businessman who crafted sought-after furniture collected by an exclusively white clientele—and as a man of deep social conviction operating in tenuous circumstances.

“Thomas Day: Nineteenth-Century Free Black Cabinetmaker” is a Now and Then podcast conversation. The Now and Then podcast series features discussions with scholars, educators, and ASHP staff members about new work in public and scholarly history.

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