Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Church Songs of Black Americans 1740 - 1877

Catalog Data

Smithsonian Institution  Search this
Smith, Edward D.  Search this
Boyer, Horace Clarence, 1935-  Search this
Anacostia Museum  Search this
The Media Exchange, Inc.  Search this
African Harmonic Society (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
First African Presbyterian Church (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
First African Presbyterian Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)  Search this
Jubilee Singers  Search this
Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)  Search this
Shiloh Baptist Church (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Society of Negroes  Search this
St. George's United Methodist Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)  Search this
St. Philip's Church (Harlem, New York, N.Y.)  Search this
St. Thomas' Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)  Search this
Allen, Richard, 1760-1831  Search this
Allen, William Francis, 1830-1889  Search this
Bliss, P. P. (Philip Paul), 1838-1876  Search this
Bradbury, William B. (William Batchelder), 1816-1868  Search this
Garnet, Henry Highland, 1815-1882  Search this
Garrison, Lucy McKim, 1842-1877  Search this
Hosier, Harry, approximately 1750-1806  Search this
Jones, Absalom, 1746-1818  Search this
Liele, George, approximately 1750-approximately 1825  Search this
Mather, Cotton, 1663-1728  Search this
Rush, Christopher, 1777-1873  Search this
Sankey, Ira David, 1840-1908  Search this
Spencer, Peter, 1782-1843  Search this
Turner, Henry McNeal, 1834-1915  Search this
Ware, Charles Pickard, 1840-1921  Search this
Watts, Isaac, 1674-1748  Search this
Wesley, John, 1703-1791  Search this
Collection Creator:
Smithsonian Institution. Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
2 video recordings (AV000962, AV003327, open reel, 1 inch)
1 video recording (AV002642, VHS)
3 sound recordings (AV002679, AV003345, AV003421, open reel, 1/4 inch)
1 sound recording (AV003336, cartridge, 1/4 inch)
African American  Search this
Archival materials
Video recordings
Sound recordings
Documentary films
United States
1994, c1987
Scope and Contents:
This short documentary provides an overview of the development of church music alongside the growth of African American churches in the eastern United States from the arrival of black Africans in Jamestown in 1619 through 1877 and the Reconstruction era. The evolution of church music within African American churches included the formation of music programs and performances, hymnals, choirs, negro spirituals, and music education as well as the addition of organs to accompany the singing of psalms, hymns, and anthems. During the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s, the Christianization of slaves and Africanization of Protestant hymns swept through the American colonies. European Christianity and the emotionalism of the African homeland were combined during the Second Awakening, which began in the late eighteenth century and lasted until the middle of the nineteenth century. The history of church music created by urban and rural congregations within New England and Southern states is explored.
Short documentary. Part of Climbing Jacob's Ladder Audiovisual Records. Complete production: AV000962, AV003327. Production elements: AV002679 [narration], AV003345 [outtakes - sound], AV003421 [music], AV003336 [music]. AV003421: 6 songs including We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder [also known as Jacob's Ladder] and Battle Hymn of the Republic [also known as Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!]. AV003336: 2 recordings of We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder. Dated 19940923 [AV000962]. Undated [all other recordings].
Biographical / Historical:
Church Songs of Black Americans 1740 - 1877 was created alongside the Climbing Jacob's Ladder: The Rise of Black Churches in Eastern American Cities, 1740 - 1877 exhibition which explored the growth and central role of African American churches during the 18th- and 19th-centuries in the eastern United States: Boston, Savannah, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond. The exhibition was organized by the Anacostia Museum and held there from October 1987 to October 1988.
Local Numbers:
ACMA AV003327 ACMA AV002679 ACMA AV003345 ACMA AV003421 ACMA AV003336 ACMA AV002642
Title transcribed from opening credits of video recording.
Series Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Some items are not accessible due to obsolete format and playback machinery restrictions. Please contact the archivist at
African Americans  Search this
African American churches  Search this
Churches  Search this
Church history  Search this
Religion  Search this
Church music  Search this
Music  Search this
African American choirs  Search this
Choirs (Music)  Search this
Spirituals (Songs)  Search this
Shape-note singing  Search this
Music -- Instruction and study  Search this
Slavery  Search this
Slaves  Search this
Jacob's ladder (Biblical dream)  Search this
Video recordings
Sound recordings
Documentary films
Church Songs of Black Americans 1740 - 1877, Exhibition Records AV03-036, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
ACMA.03-036, Item ACMA AV000962
See more items in:
Climbing Jacob's Ladder: the Rise of Black Churches in Eastern American cities, 1740 - 1877 Exhibition Records
Climbing Jacob's Ladder: the Rise of Black Churches in Eastern American cities, 1740 - 1877 Exhibition Records / Series 3: Audiovisual records
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives