This past week one of the ETV channels was rerunning an episode of History Detectives. This particular episode had been produced to air during Black History Month, and featured stories about African American history. It originally aired in 2008, and I remember seeing it once before.
In the first segment investigator Wes Cowan visited Avery Clayton, president of the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum in Culver City, California. Clayton had found an old song book from 1867 entitled “Slave Songs of the United States,” and wanted to know if it might be the first collection of slave spirituals. The rest of the segment involved Cowan’s investigations into the origins of this collection.
Given my interest in old hymnals, this segment really caught my attention. There were other connections, as well – the investigations took them to Cal State Dominguez Hills, where Laura did her undergrad work, and to the sea islands of South Carolina.