A new video short on Madam C. J. Walker
Madam C.J. Walker, one of the great American entrepreneurs of the early 20th century, was born to former slaves and grew up in destitution. Her great-great granddaughter -- A'Lelia Bundles -- tells Madam Walker's story with help from documents in the National Archives. Bundles -- a former broadcast network news executive and secretary of the Foundation for the National Archives -- is the author of "On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker." She drew on documents in the Archives to depict the Louisiana plantation on which Madam Walker was born, Walker's early life as an orphan and washerwoman, and ultimately her triumph as one of the creators of the modern hair care and cosmetics industry. Bundles also found some surprises in the Archives: Madam Walker's philanthropy and civil rights activism led to her being targeted by the federal government as a "subversive negro."
A new video examines a church's claim for Civil War damage.
National Archives senior archivist Reginald Washington takes the viewer on his voyage of discovery, tracing the history of a claim submitted by an African-American congregation whose church was burned to the ground by Union troops under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman. Their seven-page petition -- in the legislative holdings at the National Archives -- is a heartfelt narrative of the church's history and includes 234 signatures of free blacks and former slaves who were members of the congregation. The claim was presented to Congress on February 14, 1866, but the name of the church that appears in the petition is found nowhere else in the records of federal claims. Senior archivist Washington used the holdings of the National Archives to answer two questions: did the congregation receive compensation? And does the church exist today under another name?
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