The William Leo Hansberry Notebook Essay
The William Leo Hansberry Notebook
William Leo Hansberry (1894-1965) is generally regarded as the father of African studies. He completed both his B.A and M.A degrees from Harward University. Most of his search and study on Africa coincided with the post slavery period. At Old Atlanta, Hansberry had the opportunity to read W.E.B Du Bois’s book The Negro that fascinated him and further kindled his passion for African studies.
He laid the foundation for formal African studies covering its history, culture and politics. However it is to be noted here that during his stint at Howard University after his graduation, he was sidelined by the rest of the white teaching community for his teachings, which most felt as lacking credibility. For his research on Africa, the Ethiopian government honored him with its highest civilian award.
The William Leo Hansberry African History Notebook consists of two volumes. Pillars in Ethiopian History is the first volume and Africa and Africans as seen by Classical Writers is the second volume. Both these volumes are edited by Joseph E. Harris who is currently professor of history in Howard University.
The first volume Pillars in Ethiopian History includes four lectures from Hansberry’s private collection, documenting important times and happenings in Ethiopian history. The book has Ethiopian history presented in a more narrative style, setting aside myths, legendary assumptions and false historical documentation. The book also talks about the legendary Queen of Sheba, the origin of Christianity in Ethiopia and early Ethiopian international relations. The book is suitable for the general reader as well as for academicians.
In the second volume Africa and Africans as Seen by Classical Writers, all conventional and traditional references by several writers to the African continent are analyzed. The book includes among others, the writings of Homer, Pliny, Virgil and Herodotus. The book also includes articles from Hansberry’s private collection on the subject, which he gathered while teaching at the Howard University.