Secondary Source Report-JH

  • Askins, William. “Oystering and Equality: Nineteenth Century Cultural Resistance in Sandy Ground, Staten Island, New York.” Anthropology of Work Review, vol. 12, no. 2, 1991, pp. 7-13.,

This is an article about how the area of Sandy Ground maintained their community of “relative equality” and how it was impacted with the typhoid outbreak and coinciding Jim Crow movement.

This article describes in detail the racial history of the area since its establishment near the late 1840’s. Following a small community of African American’s known as the “Freemen,” the community had become a multi-ethnic village of the African American and native white population. The community even thrived with the reconstruction period and booming oyster industry, but not without many cases of resistance over the years. Stress only rose with the end of the industry following the typhoid outbreak and Jim Crow movement. A once diverse and accepting area was under ideological assault and this article will be a great source to describe and use this history when talking about today’s oyster project.

This source is a website article about the geographical history of the Harbor and more specifically the transformation of Crooke’s point to create the Great Kills Harbor site today.

The article will provide a useful geographic background of the area because it’s undergone quite a change since the area was settled and industrialized with the oyster industry. The article provides helpful visuals to show how the point used to be an island/sandbar disconnected from Staten Island. In an effort to aid with the 6 ft tides and high current the shoreline faced, the area was filled in to connect the island, forming the point and harbor today. The article also points out the tough environmental history the point has had. During its creation, large sections of land were filled in not with sand, but with trash from landfills which afterward caused an area of radiation to be found after radium was apparently dumped below ground. This is still causing problems for the public and parks association that runs the Great Kills Park as there are still areas blocked off to the public.

This source is an article that describes the history of the Oyster industry in Staten Island and the first “Freeman” African Americans that established the area and industry after the civil war.

Safari Richardson recounts the stories of two well-known free African Americans and the history of the area and industry surrounding the oysters of the harbor. The background information/history will be a great source to better “paint the picture” of what the area was like and how it came to be. The area was settled by a group called the “Freemen” from the south before the end of slavery. Their job being to harvest the oysters in the harbor for food and other materials. Shortly after, they were freed and remained in the area, however very poor and with not much help from others at the time, oystering became the way of living for many. Understanding the past racial injustices will be important cases and lessons we can hopefully see improved with the oyster project(s) of today.