The Thirty-fifth Annual Wiggins Lecture
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Caterina Jarboro, the 1898 Wilmington Riot, and the Challenges of the Archive

Richard A. Yarborough

Wednesday, July 19, 2023, at 7:00 PM ET

Approximately 60 minutes. This hybrid program will be held in person at Antiquarian Hall and livestreamed to a virtual audience on YouTube. Advance registration is required for both. Doors open at 6:30pm.

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Instances of mass assaults on African American communities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have received increased attention over the past couple of decades. Among the more notable of these tragic events is the riot that occurred in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898 that involved not just attacks on African American citizens but also the forceful overthrow of the city government. Born just months before the outbreak of violence in Wilmington, Katherine Yarborough (who had adopted the name, Caterina Jarboro) became the first African American prima donna to be featured with a white, U.S. opera company when she starred in Aida in New York City in 1933.

Professor Richard Yarborough, the great-nephew of Caterina Jarboro, will discuss his research on the Wilmington Riot, as well as on his great-aunt’s life. In both cases, significant gaps in the archive constitute daunting obstacles when attempting to render accurately important aspects of African American history that have been overlooked, distorted, or suppressed. This AAS program is the thirty-fifth annual James Russell Wiggins Lecture in the History of the Book in American Culture.

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Richard Yarborough is Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His work focuses on race, representation, and American culture, and he has written on authors such as Frederick Douglass, Pauline Hopkins, Charles Chesnutt, and Richard Wright as well as musicians Jimi Hendrix and Prince. He is the associate general editor of the Heath Anthology of American Literature, as well as the former director of the University Press of New England’s Library of Black Literature series. In 2012 he was given the American Studies Association’s inaugural Richard A. Yarborough Award in Mentoring, which is named in his honor. He has also received UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award as well as the Darwin T. Turner Distinguished Scholar Award presented by the African American Literature and Culture Society. In 2019 W. W. Norton issued Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs that he co-edited with Frances Smith Foster.

The James Russell Wiggins Lecture in the History of the Book in American Culture features an expert on book history. The lecture was endowed to honor James Russell Wiggins (1903-2000), who served as AAS president (1970-1977), an editor of the Washington Post (1947-1968), United States ambassador to the United Nations (1968-69), and editor of the Ellsworth (Maine) American (1969-2000).


This event is co-sponsored by the Bibliographical Society of America.

Program in the History of the Book  in American Culture Bibliographical Society of America

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