From the Archives…

June 14, 2011

McKissack Book: Black Hands, White Sails

originally posted March 3, 2009

We’re going to start featuring assorted books from the Fred and Patricia McKissack collection; the first one we’re showcasing is Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers and is a 2000 Coretta Scott King Honor Book.

In an article with Scholastic, Pat shared, “We’ve written extensively about slavery in America, but I never realized how important free black sailors were to the Underground Railroad and to the abolitionist movement. They’ve helped in more ways than we can imagine.”

From Kirkus Reviews (on
…a well-written, historical account of African-Americans who sailed on whaling ships off the East Coast between 1730 and 1880. The whaling industry provided great opportunities for free black seaman (and runaway slaves), many of whom could not find jobs elsewhere. The McKissacks note that during the “golden age” of whaling in the early 19th century, African-Americans comprised one-quarter of the crews; after the Civil War, their ranks swelled to half of all whalers… Another thread of this fascinating history is the story of the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad for the Nantucket and New Bedford whalers.


  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590483137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590483131
Posted by Rebecca Morrison

One Response to “From the Archives…”

  1. weston clark said

    hey so i need to do a school project and i read clone codes. for the assignment i need to write a letter to you and for that i need your fan mail address or email address please respond as soon as possible. thank you!

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