On June 19, 1865, the enslaved community of Texas was officially informed that the Civil War had ended and they were now free. From then on, the date of June 19th has held significance as being the date to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States. The holiday began as a way to not only celebrate freedom, but to celebrate the achievements and contributions of the African American community. Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Massachusetts in 2020 and in 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. See the 2020 state proclamation in our digital repository.
The State Library is excited to highlight some related titles and events that celebrate the African American community and works that expand on the history of slavery and emancipation within this country.
Earlier this month, the State Library Author Talks Series hosted Ilyon Woo, author of the 2023 book, Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom. The book focuses on the true story of Ellen and William Craft. The Crafts were a young, enslaved couple who disguised themselves as Master and Slave to seek freedom in the north. The Crafts set out in 1848, fleeing Macon, Georgia, traveling to Philadelphia, Boston, and eventually Canada. This riveting and meticulously researched journey, presents Antebellum America and the major abolitionists of the day. You can view the recorded Author Talk on our YouTube channel!
Another past author talk to check out is with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Annette Gordon-Reed. Reed discusses her 2021 book, On Juneteenth, which explores the origins of the holiday and the significance it holds today. Reed, a native Texan, recounts her own personal experiences while relaying the history of Juneteenth within Texas. You can view Reed’s talk here.
Finally, the State Library has an extensive collection of titles on slavery, emancipation, the Civil War, and more. Of interest, the library has several titles related to the Massachusetts 54th and 55th Regiments, the African American infantry units for the Union Army during the Civil War. See titles listed below.
|Image of Sergeant Andrew Jackson Smith.|
Photograph from the
Alfred Stedman Hartwell Collection.
- We Fight for Freedom: Massachusetts, African Americans, and the Civil War
- Now or Never! 54th Massachusetts Infantry's War to End Slavery
- History of the Fifty-fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-1865
- Flags of the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers
- Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments that Redeemed America
- Record of the Service of the Fifty-fifth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Printed for the Regimental Association
Also of note, library holdings include titles on the various leaders, orators, writers, and key persons of the abolitionist movement. Search our catalog or see below to learn more about these important historical figures.
- Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
- Frances E. W. Harper: A Call to Conscience
- All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery
- Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero
If you are a State Employee, use your State Library card to download the Libby app to browse their selection of Juneteenth ebook titles. For more information regarding access to any of the titles or resources mentioned above, please contact the Reference Department (email@example.com) or stop by the information desk in room 341 of the State House.
Legislative Reference Librarian