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February 2019 Notable Maryland Author Benjamin Quarles

Dr. Benjamin Quarles (Jan 23, 1904 – Nov 16, 1996)

“America would not be America without the African-American.” Dr. Benjamin Quarles

Benjamin Arthur Quarles was a historian, administrator, scholar, educator, and writer. Born in Boston, MA, he attended local public schools. In 1931, he graduated with a B.A. degree from Shaw University and then earned an M.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1933, followed by a Ph.D. in 1940.

His chosen profession was as a History Professor; first at Shaw, then Dillard University, and finally at Morgan State University (1953–1974) as professor of history and chair of the department. At Morgan State, Quarles became a revered teacher and counselor and an intellectual and professional mentor for two generations of African-American scholars.

His writings portrayed blacks as active participants in major conflicts and issues of American history. His books were narrative accounts of critical wartime periods that focused on how blacks interacted with their white allies and emphasized blacks' acting as vital agents of change rather than receiving favors from whites. Many of his books became required reading in the African-American history courses that were developed in American universities during the 1960s.

Genre: People’s History

History is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. People’s History, also called “history from below” is a type of historical narrative which attempts to account for historical events from the perspective of common people rather than leaders. There is an emphasis on disenfranchised, the oppressed, the poor, the nonconformists, and otherwise marginal groups. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.

A partial reading list includes: The Negro in the Civil War (1953), The Negro in the American Revolution (1961), Lincoln and the Negro (1962), and Black Abolitionists (1969). 

Writer's Prompt - Fun With Words

Maryland Writers’ Association (MWA) invites you to have fun writing People’s History using up to 100 words. Portray a character from an oppressed group acting as an agent of change during a critical wartime period or event. Submit your Fun With Words submission by the 20th of the month and receive an MWA Fun With Words Submission Certificate.  Selected submissions may be published the following month.

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