• Akin, Emma E. “Negro Boys and Girls” and “Gifts”, 2 volumes [The Negro American Series] (Harlow Publishing, Oklahoma City, OK, c.1938. Original pictorial cloth. 5.5 x 7.5”, 142 and 184pp. Extensively illustrated with silhouette drawings and photographs by “That Man Stone Co.”, candid pictures of Black children at school.
• Whiting, Helen Adele. “Negro Folk Tales for Pupils in the Primary Grades” and “Negro Art, Music and Rhyme for Young Folks” 2 volumes (Associated Publishers, Washington, D.C., c.1938) 7.5 x 9” Approx. 26 and 36 unnumbered pages. Illustrated with drawings by Lois Mailou Jones.
Well-worn volumes, now regarded as rare classics – pioneering efforts to produce “modern” textbooks for segregated schools geared specifically to inspire young African-American readers.
The Akin Series volumes (there were two more besides the two offered here) have all been reprinted, while the original imprints sometimes appear on the antiquarian market at prices akin to those commanded by early American primers. There is even a book about the books, published last year as “Emma and the Children of Dunbar”. Emma Akin was a married white woman who had been teaching white children in the oil boomtown of Drumwright, Oklahoma for ten years when, widowed at 41, she reluctantly took on the responsibility of supervising a segregated elementary school in an area where Blacks were plagued by racist prejudice both from white and local Native Americans. Frustrated by the lack of educational resources for the Black children whom she came to love, Akin spent years writing elementary textbooks of her own which portrayed African-Americans in a positive light
Tje Whiting volumes, written by a Black woman teacher from the Tuskegee Institute, were somewhat more highfalutin, written for older students, issued by Carter Woodson’s Washington, D.C. publishing company and beautifully illustrated by the most famous African-American woman artist of the Harlem Renaissance period.