John Wesley Blassingame

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John W. Blassingame

John Wesley Blassingame (March 23, 1940 - February 13, 2000) was an American scholar, historian, educator, writer, and pioneer in the study of American slavery. He was the former chairman of the African-American Studies program at Yale University. He died at age 59. The cause of death was not known according to his son, John W. Blassingame Jr.

Blassingame was born in Covington, Georgia, to Grady and Odessa Blassingame. He received a bachelor’s degree at Fort Valley State College (1960), a master’s degree at Howard University (1961), and a master’s degree (1968) and a doctorate (1971) at Yale University. Blassingame joined the faculty at Yale University in 1970 and became a history professor in 1974. He remained at Yale University as a professor of history, African-American studies, and American Studies for 29 years.

Blassingame wrote and edited several books, including New Perspectives on Black Studies (1971), The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South (1972), Black New Orleans, 1860-1880 (1973), and Frederick Douglass, the Clarion Voice (1976). In addition, Blassingame collected slave letters, interviews, and other materials in his Slave Testimony: Two centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews, and autobiographies (1977), which include a large selection of annotated and authenticated accounts of slaves speaking for themselves during the slavery period of Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Henry Clay, and others. From 1979 to 1999, Blassingame worked on editing the papers of Frederick Douglass and published six volumes of Douglass’s papers and manuscripts. He also joined several writers in his work of editing and writing. He was a co-author with Mary F. Berry in Long Memory: The Black Experience in America (1982), and a co-editor with Louis Harlan in The Autobiographical Writings of Booker T. Washington (1972).

Blassingame was a lifelong member of many history preservation, heritage, and educational organizations such as the American Historical Association, Southern History Association, the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, and the Phi Alpha Theta honor society.

Blassingame is survived by his wife Teasie Jackson Blassingame, son John W Blassingame Jr., daughter Tia Marrie and father Grady Blassingame.

References[edit]

  • Nick Ravo, "John Blassingame, 59, Historian-Led Yale Black Studies Program." New York Times, Feb 29, 2000.
  • [1] John Wesley Blassingame 1940-2000 biographical information from Black History Month 2001- William Russell Pullen Library.
  • [2] John W Blassingame from Yale Bulletin and Calendar.