Colonial Slave Trade Routes  (, 8-10-2011)

Part 1.  Introduction

Caribbean and African medicine came to the Hudson Valley when the first slaves arrived.  This is not at all a unique feature to the valley, and has its predecessors for which much more information cane be found for such New World locations as the Dutch Caribbean Islands and the Georgian settlements at the border of New Spain and the Virginia claims.   Even by the mid-1600s when these cultural escapes began to take place in these two regions, there were some very distinct negro or black cultural traditions being developed.  In New France, the Jesuit missions had secured settlement for a brief period of time at the northern end of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, where the first Creoles were in fact born.  This cultural tradition continued to makes its way southward along the Mississippi throughout the 1600s and early 1700s, forming the settlements that we refer to today as Creole in descent, areas where the local ecology and foodways gave these people the tools that were needed to carve their own place in traditions of American lifestyle, cuisine and ultimately medicine, arts and crafts, philosophy and religion.

Another group of black or African immigrants made their way along the shores of the southeastern part of the North American continent.  Like anything living within the island community setting, these individuals developed their own cultural practices which were often very unlike those of their neighbors.  In a region where voodoo was distinctly different from hoodoo, one could understand the psychology and intellect of one slave family residing next to the first planted sugar cane fields of some Caribbean island setting and have absolutely no idea what the philosophical and spiritual basis was for the seemingly “demonic” practices of animal worship and personal sacrifice taking place just a few islands over.  It was already the popular opinion that the fair-skinned people of the Dutch islands differed significantly from those moderately shaded skins that could be found in the isolated community near and afar, but with the darkest of all of these negroid communal settings noted in some of the even more isolated places, it was hard for each culture not to develop its own unique prejudice and philosophy as to how to behave with these very different community settings.

By allowing the imagination to take over, new settlers could be asking questions like ‘Would you be residing adjacent to good or evil?’  ‘Do they have good or bad temperaments?’  ‘To whom do you risk your life more when settling such places?’ To the indigenous groups as did the first settlers of Jamestown in Virginia did, or the darkest-skinned settlers who theoretically ever existed in the furthest backwoods settings of Africa, now subsisting on their own in some North American wilderness setting?

Like the Jewish people I have reviewed, the New England to New York residing African and Caribbean settlers provide us with very limited documentation as to their cultural upbringings as colonial slaves.  But we are also offered some occasional insights into this part of their life history very important to understanding this country’s medical history. These reflections upon African culture and how it made its way to the Colonies and States during the 17th and 18th centuries, as found in the medical journals, books, magazines and republished journals provide us with the best evidence for better understanding this important part of American history. Such information in fact is often some of the best evidence out there as to what it was like to reside within a black or negro cultural setting. To better understand the life of a mountainman and trappers, we have to turn to their private diaries and reflections of the past, the poorer they are and the less talented a writer they be meaning the richer their stories will be. Like the Creoles residing in Northern and later Southern New France, only to remove to the Louisiana territory, or the migration of Caribbean people to the southern states, or the young muslim slaves from Africa making their way first through Egypt and Sudan before coming to New York, Philadelphia, where ever, it helps to understand the cultural differences that exist between these different dark-skinned groups.

African American Cultural Diffusion — its migration to New York and the Hudson Valley (see next figure for close-up) 

NOTE: The above map is drawn from a section of the map at (, 8-10-2011, (c) 2000 Pearson Education, Inc.

In order to review the African Colonial New World traditions, there are these specific resources that should be evaluated.  The first of these are the original accounts of the settlement period (1600-1740) regarding African slaves and New World residents.  These include official letters or reports, narratives, and some recounts of this period in American history by survivors of this period.  Then there are those secondary sources out there which have to be considered for this work.  There are these immediately primary-secondary resources existing, such as the descriptions of later travels that recollect the region’s history and its migration patterns involving places that have since become predominantly African cultural settings.  Then there are those retrospective, semi-anthropological narratives on the African people in North America, of two types:  histories that are in a modern sense antique in nature (pre-1850 publications) along with histories that are considered more modern or contemporary in nature.  It is important to note that some of these histories may be very revealing, and at times are very culturally biased, to the same extent that such bias exists in the writings on Native American history noted elsewhere on this site.

As suggested by the content of much of my site, and the scarcity of more recently published histories, I like to stay away from the work of recent writers, who have often allowed their own personal culture to dictate what they have to say, how they are going to say it, and who to cite for these statements in order to avoid criticism, accusations of being too much outside the box, or in the worst of cases fabrication and plagiarism. This does mean at times that I am reiterating “work done elsewhere”, but I am doing so with my own cant to the topic at hand. When I first proposed my Oregon Trail medicine project in 1992 to several midwestern Ivy League schools, their feedback was that this was already done, and when I reviewed the author they cited, I found his writings to be focused just on argonauts, not at all on the Pacific Northwest, with no mention of family health and no detailed medical or disease information, something superficial at most, designed for the 8th grade reader. Thus came my work on the natives, trappers, mountainmen, fur traders, scouts, military physicians, Thomsonians, botanics, physomedical physicians, chronothermalists, domestic faith healers, Grahamanites, eclectics, homeopaths, hydropaths, climopaths, and even regulars on the Oregon Trail, no argonauts this time through. None of the old timer scholars realized what had been missed.

Since I work from the past forward with most of my medical history work, I spent time reviewing the historical writings, develop my theories, write my essay (much of this 20 years ago), teach what it is I have to say, and then review the findings of more recent writers. This lengthy process of research I feel is why and how I uncovered things that other writers have missed. It is why and how I found the early Medical Repository description of African slaves who underwent the infibulation practiced by Middle Eastern-Sudanese sects, or how I found some of the earliest writings detailing the practice of many different unique healing philosophies in the Hudson Valley. Forever (at least since 1990 due to my experiences) there has been this attitude about the Hudson Valley due to which the scholars from several New York and New England Ivy League schools have failed to understand and accept the importance of local, rural medical history, in particular in the Dutch-developed, multicultural Hudson Valley where the oldest newspaper currently in this country began its publication. Ivy League scholars may be good, but unfortunately they are not thorough enough at times when it comes to completely understand early North American medical history–the history of medicine is not just the history of allopathic medicine, it is the history of culture, faith and belief systems.

Potential African American cultural diffusion into the immediate Hudson Valley vicinity, with links to Manhattan, Boston-New England, Maryland and Delaware (former New Sweden) ports, Philadelphia and upper Mid-Atlantic, and the Great Lakes with the former New France.

NOTE: The above map is drawn from a section of the map at (, 8-10-2011, (c) 2000 Pearson Education, Inc.

Since this work does focus on medicine, medical philosophy and tradition, and often based primarily upon herbal medicine beliefs and uses, it makes sense to once again begin this part of my review of American medical history by taking a look at the early documentation of African herbal medicines use as these were applied to New World and North American plant species.  There are a few avenues to take with this approach, beginning with the herbal information penned in a brief report dated to around 1750 by botanist in Pennsylvania.  Being Pennsylvanian, this work by a Philadelphia medical botanist crosses over into two distinct regions in American colonial-based African American cultural geography and history–

a) the regions of New Netherlands and New York, together, with New England British cultural black-servant practices and thought of manumission as a part of the early social construct, and

b) the more mid-Atlantic region with hoodism and black-slavery impacting the beliefs for the time.

In addition to these two African-American cultural regions from the mid-Atlantic northward, there are the hinterlands of New France where Creole settings were placed well south of the Mid-Atlantic traditions in Louisiana across to Georgia, and well west of the more northern Mid-Atlantic to New England cultural settings.  This Creolic Black or Negro cultural setting was also toured and studied by two other naturalists for the late colonial time, John and William Bartram.   For additional primary references on African American herbalism, there are a few books that occasionally cite these particular uses of plants, dated to about 1790 to 1830.


Then there are a number of isolated writings I have uncovered over the years in newspapers for the time, which for my studies of the Hudson Valley included the Poughkeepsie Journal primarily.  These articles have both culturally biased and non-biased information in them on the African life experience in the local Colonies and United States.  The above item is pulled from the 1815 Poughkeepsie Journal.  Notice its date of origins cited–May 9, 1750.  This was the heart of the slave in-migration for the Mid-Atlantic States, the time when James River Ringworm epidemic was prevailing on Thomas Jefferson’s estate (see head blogsite page on this).

The following depicts the migration of slaves escape and in search of freedom from 1830 to 1865.  Presumably these are the most traveled routes, meaning there are secondary routes as well.  The main route to the Hudson Valley by 1830 was via New York Harbor, but routes through New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania also seem very likely.  The routes provided on this map are perhaps those with the best defined shipping and/or river and stream valley-derived horse and wagon routes (an adjacent foot paths.)

For tens of miles in all directions, the Hudson Valley is the primary route from Manhattan-New Jersey and even parts of Pennsylvania to Canada.  Interior routes through Pennsylvania also have the option of heading toward Albany, Hudson and Poughkeepsie before the northward trek.  With Quaker communities throughout this region, and the strong anti-slavery movement forming in the Hudson valley, the natural routes for freedom-seeking African Americans to go is via the Hudson Valley.  For other forms of New York influence, the other two routes are directed towards the western tip of New York, and via the mid-state Finger Lakes region directly north to the Great Lakes.  With manumission brewing in the New York Journals and Newspapers since the latter days of The New York Packet’s editor Samuel Loudon’s years (as seen in his will and legal papers, ca 1802) we know that this became a personal issue by the beginning of the 19th century.    Suffice it to say, manumission and freedom had urban, rural, some governmental, and a great deal of multi-partisan government and multi-ethnic religious support going in its favor during the pre-1830 years of Hudson Valley history.  The Poughkeepsie Journal provides ample evidence for this, with the most important reprinted items coming from Hudson, New York.  Together these all suggest that Hudson was possibly the heart of this movement, geographically, with numerous small supporting communities up and down the river serving as support systems needed for the underground railroad route to become well established for our region by 1830.


With this way of visualizing these newly settled parts of the late colonial and early post-colonial North American setting, we can begin to interpret how much culture played into the forms and practice of medicines in these settings in general, from 1600 forward, and from the 1850 in a retrospective fashion.  We can then bring these insights back into the Hudson Valley multicultural setting, to determine what important attributes of this region’s history played the more important roles in how Black or Negro African and Caribbean traditions came to play their roles in the evolution of local medical beliefs and practices.

Results: See mostly local diffusion, with minimal amount of hierarchical diffusion except by newspaper and published medical findings (Colden’s 1720, 1737, 1745 notes for example).  The Order of Impact is: local, Pennsylvania ethnobotany, possibly with limited amounts Canadian Creole or African cultural influences, until around 1840-1850.  Stages I and II of the Sequent Occupancy Model (see figure below for explanation)

NOTE: The above map is drawn from a section of the map at (, 8-10-2011, (c) 2000 Pearson Education, Inc.


Assorted clippings from the Poughkeepsie Journal ca. 1804 – 1809 [the “1840” is a printer’s typ0], photographs were taken during a review of the microfilm for this newspaper kept at Adriance Library, Poughkeepsie, NY; the Pok Jl began publication in 1797 (also in the microfilm collection) and is the oldest newspaper in the country that is still being printed.

Summary of Initial Findings

The first possible introduction of African culture into the Hudson valley region came as a result of the settlement of the Filipse patent.  The matron of this family at the time noted two servants–one of which was possibly of African descent.

The next strong evidence for African influence is found in observations on the mid-Atlantic region, in which there was coverage of the local ethnobotany included several notes on locally used plants with unique applications as remedies.  Surprisingly, some of this evidence for this may be in the local folklore short stories published as children’s readers, as well as some longer stories by famous writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Washington Irving, both of whom obtained much of their background from the local oral and published histories.

By the 1800s, some items on local African influences specific to the Valley are found in the Poughkeepsie Journal, in which several philosophical interpretations of African descent are briefly described.


The north end of New York demonstrates a history of French Jesuit and French Huguenot influence.  These two cultural migrations into the Valley region may have been from Canada, and a result of early 17th century into 18th century migratory patterns, or they may have some underlying reasons why these people chose to settle these regions from the south and bypass the more common behaviors of first settling in the port-defined urban settings or the related borderland non-urban settings.  The evidence for these migratory patterns are seen for other atypical or non-supported cultures in the Valley and lower New York, but not for socially defined individuals allowed to in-migrate due to the need for their labor skills and energy.  So, the diffusion of African culture prior to the manumissions that began to occur in the early 1800s, were a result of “run-away slaves” as most newspaper clippings referred to these events.  The likelihood that much documentation of these peoples’ practices outside of the slave-setting is unlikely to be uncovered, except in the form of third party events witnessed and noted by members of the families in possession of these slaves and their close neighbors and friends.

For example, Isaac Marks’ relationship with one such runaway slave is noted in some ancient documents collection reviewed by a genealogical historian, Frank Dougherty (vol. 1)  back in the late 1980s (a document since impossible to locate due to the moving of this library and mishandling of county papers since that time).  Based on a review of the Talmud, there are statements regarding the relationships that can exist between Jewish people and slaves.  Most of these recommended practices recommend that a non-slave Jewish person abide by the laws for the time. even though there were personal attitudes about the practice of slavery in general.   At times these statements in the Talmud do seem to treat the Negro more as a possession.  Other times some additional statements are made concerning their humanness and need for respect, and their own health issues and behaviors being important to maintaining our own in terms of cleanliness and such.

The personal attitudes Jewish people might have about a runaway slave were very private.  Officially they must take the side of the law of the government, but personally only Mosaic Law really mattered.  This suggests to us that Isaac Marks in the worst remained neutral when the runaway slave visited him at this home, allowing him to stay there for a night as he continued along his path to freedom.   Even more suggestive of this is the fact that the runaway slave knew to stop there for a place to stay.  How else might such a reputation be told?  In a separate series of letters, Abraham Abrahams told a New York Jewish father to contact Isaac Marks for the briss (this is covered, including sources, on my pages about Dr. Marks).  But Isaac wasn’t available it ended up–he was in gaol once again for whatever he did according to these letters.  So Isaac Marks was not one-hundred percent for the law of the New York government, so much as he was on the side of Mosaic and Hebrew laws.  With this we can surmise, or in the least wonder whether or not Isaac’s local fame was to serve as a part of the very early “underground railroad” for slaves.  Dr. Marks leaves us with just that one documents about  this part of his history, for now; very few slaves were able to keep much of a written record during these earliest, years, and so self-documented histories are very hard to obtain.


The north end of Dutchess County has even more convincing evidence for a very well established Black American culture developing just north of Pine Plains.  In this region, the farmer had established several relationships with the families residing south of the village.  Some of this evidence was uncovered as part of the study of “Prince Quack Mannessah”, an Indian root doctor practicing just north of the village, on his own land, and who was a first of second descendent of the Mahican-Algonkin families formed at the Shekomeko Missionary settlement in the mid-1700s.  By 1790, records show that Mannessah was residing on his own piece of property serving the farming family in that region.  Mannessah worked alongside several African Americans who also had their own lodging and perhaps owned small pieces of property.  So, by 1790/1800, it is likely that certain parts of African American philosophy were making their way into the local folklore, such as how and why certain plants are used as medicines, how to treat particular diseases, and how to best practice midwifery and herbal medicine.  In some ways, an African or African American mother with an herb garden was no different than many other female herbalists for the time.

A review of recollections and regional writings will help shed more light into this aspect of local medical culture for the Hudson Valley, especially those produced and published prior to 1825, but perhaps as late as 1850.  Physicians recollections and autobiographies will also shed some light on this local research question.



Part 2

Sequent Occupancy

Relating sequent occupancy to the history of slavery provides us a very unique way to visualize the events that took place before and after the Civil war, the manners in which African migration took place and impacted the demographics for the various parts of the US, and how such information can provide us with insights and a better understanding of the history and diffusion of African culture across this continent and into the Hudson Valley.

Prior to the Civil War, the migration of Africans into this country was restricted to the known slave routes for the most part. There are two major types of in-migration routes: those leading directly to the US from African ports (with intermediary administrative sites considered as well) and those route that demonstrate a major cultural intermediary stopover place, like a Western European, Middle or South American, Caribbean, or Mid-Atlantic or Pacific Island location where the servant/slave undergoes some “changes” (“teachings” and experiences) before making his/her way to the New World.


Following the Civil War, in theory African in-migration is no longer limited to being part of the commercial routes into this country. In addition, in-migration activities are now based on decisions made more directly by the African people who decide to remove to the US. Complicating this simple scenario is the impact that human behaviors have on this decision making process. More than likely some African in-migrations were still a consequence of many of the same practices as earlier, with the exception that the decision made by Africans to remove to the US would have been made more based on their “voluntary” decisions to become “servants” in exchange for the later possibility of citizenship. A second complication pertains to decisions regarding where to migrate to. Traditional slavery in-migrations involved northern and southern states, with southern industries dominating over northern industries. More than likely, the migration to southern regions was partially diminished due to the negative impacts the history of slavery had with regard to the “attractiveness” of moving to the more southern parts of this country.

The earliest forms of social segregation activities resulted in the development of micro-cultural settings where members of specific ethnic groups tended to cluster together. As early as 1800 this social behavior was already prevalent in the young post-colonial hamlets located in certain borderland and hinterland settings. In New York, this may help to explain the richness of non-Caucasian families in certain regions, in part due to the history of slave migration into this region due to the Livingstons, and their subsequent conversion of this region into large scale wood and farming industries, but also due to the limited availability of land to slaves freed by manumission.

In several ways, and for a number of reasons, a definable political boundary developed between northern African slave settings and southern African slave settings in the US. This border is in the Virginia territory setting, close to the line dividing this region into two states–Virginia and West Virginia. A review of a number of important pro- and anti-slavery books published between 1848 and 1860 indicate that the people trying to dominate the slave trade industry and the legalities of slavery revealed that the consider the southern border of Pennsylvania to be the southern edge of the slave trade and slave labor dependent farming industries.  Tobacco farms were a primary indicator of this region, although in prior years of American colonial history, tobacco farming for whole leaf product was tried as far north as Rhode Island.  In the very important works of Samuel Cartwright published around 1850, the stage is set for the development of the major controversy regarding the moral arguments against slavery versus the claim that slavery was an inevitable fate of the African and African American people residing in this country.

A common belief for the time was that due to their upbringing and evolution into a distinct human race, different from Caucasians or whites, they were best adapted to living and working in the southern states.  Evidence for this claim came in the form of their resistance to the yellow fever, versus in-migrating white visitors who suffered greatly in terms of morbidity and mortality whenever they passed into and through this disease zone.  Similar, malaria and other tropical diseases appeared to have a predisposition for impacting the white immigrants in African and Carribean countries, places African people were already adapted to (although this may in part be a beneficial consequence of their genetic sickle cell trait).  Adding to this sign of predisposition for or against residing in the tropical, and especially working in such a setting, were the numbers of ‘apoplexy” cases that developed in this part of the country, which were essentially heat exhaustion and heat stroke cases, not the true cerebrovascular stroke.  Foodways, unhealthy waters, and the abundance of “miasma” made many heavily populated tropical settings appear to be some of the most deadly parts of the globe.  Human waste, garbage, etc., decayed at a faster rate.  Corpses were fast to produce a stench and bear disease spreading flies on their flesh.  To any wise physician, this pointed out the public health concerns for a tropical region, a concern that white populations had to learn to live with should they chose to move to such a region.  Around 1800, it was a common philosophy for those with rheumatism and consumption to head south to warmer climates, in order to hopefully stop the course of this disease native to the cold temperate zone now residing within their body.

For the above and many more reasons, an entire philosophy had developed about the three zones of the world map with regard to disease–the tropical zone, temperate zone and arctic or frigid zone.  This philosophy gained importance once it became applicable to supporting, or attacking, the slave trade industry.  This special regard to health and viability of certain cultural groups residing in specific regions set the stage for the border defined by 1850 for the slave trade plantation versus farming industries–the southern Pennsylvania border, or for Virginians, the dividing line between the anti-slavery West Virginia and the pro-slavery Virginia.

It was the warmer tropical and subtropical settings that facilitated farming industry development at a large scale, due to its much longer growing seasons, it greater capacity for crop productivity, and the natural selection features which seemed to imply the importance of slavery as the human component of this industry.  Some of the best logic supporting this philosophy was first developed due to Lamarckian and Erasmus Darwinian followers, who were succeeded by Charles Darwin a few decades later.  All of this logic pertaining to natural selection, and such arguments enabled intellectuals to rationalize their decision to facilitate slavery south of this “black-and-white border”.  The warmer climates were healthier and more conducive to generating more productivity, so long as the manpower was already adapted to working in such settings. This logic would continue through the 1850s, and make its way through the early 1860s.  As it perpetuated through the generations to come, so too came the development of the strong post-bellum pro-slavery movement end product, the “white supremacy movement”, defined in detail by 1873 (more about this on another future page).

It is even interesting to not how this impacts the Sequent Occupancy philosophy.  If we think back of Benjamin Rush’s original version of this belief, three species of farmers are noted.  Rush did not include the original Native American in this particular philosophy, but if we add them back in, we end up with a model very similar to the modern popular sequent occupancy models used by spatial economists and population analysts.  A four tiered sequential land use system consisting of wilderness, pioneer, early farming, and then industry settings.  The slave managed farming industries is what made them the factory or industry like settings that they ultimately became.  These human occupancy, rural development behaviors also set the stage for the invention of mechanical devices important to the rapidly growing agricultural industries, for example the first Cotton Gins.  In places where slavery was legal and allowed, sequent occupancy underwent one form of human occupancy and industry transition, which was very different from the sequent occupancy of lands developed within  the non-slavery states.

This also means that in terms of the modern sequent occupancy theory, Southern states made their way into Stage 3 more aggressively than Northern states when it came to the “economic value” of the negro populations.  Prior to Stage 3, in both north and south states, there was less of an influence of this pro-slavery thinking.  North and south both had slaves (but called servants in the north), and even the industries had some African and African American workers.  But as the need for larger factories developed, to the north, weather and climate did not impact the labor related heat problem which prevailed down south.  The south needed slaves due to its weaker white population, people who were strong enough to muster up the energy they needed to work outside, and avoid apoplexy, fatigue and even death.  Stage 3 was the point in population development where this test of physical form and character ensued in the warmer southern states.  Such a test of strength did not exist in the northern temperate zone Lamarckian-Darwinian experiments setting.

Taking this logic one step further, Stage 4 is the peak to post-bellum period.  It  may be divided into the traditional stage 4 form depicted above, or broken down further by adding a more traditional pro-slavery form, with large numbers of Africans required for agricultural businesses to continue to improve and remain productive.  But in a more contemporary medical and cultural geography sense, we can add a fifth chapter to the sequent occupancy study and report.  Stage 5 in this paradigm is that of the contemporary “Post-Modern” period.  Whereas Stage 4 malingered for generations to come after the Civil War, in spite of the effects Emancipation had on the African/African American’s life as a legal slave or not,  it had minimal impacts on numerous other aspects of African/African American life.  The Post-Modern Stage 5 of sequent occupancy consists of a different stages 1 and 2, and even 3 form of life for Africans and African Americans.  It also resulted in the development of numerous social movements related to African heritage and tradition, starting with a revamping of the role of education in African/African American life back in the 1860s, continuing up to and throughout the 1900s.   In more recent years, or perhaps decades, there has been the establishment of another Stage 5 industry, that devoted to tourism and this country’s slavery history.

The residency and migration patterns of Africans and African Americans into and across this country’s “regions” demonstrate some of the effects that these changes related to the Civil War had on African American culture. The “negro rich regions” of the early 1900s are considerably different than the heritage-rich African American regions or cultural settings forming anew today, such as those affiliated with the recent South African and Muslim African histories.   Each of these unique African/African American culture have their unique lifestyles, health care beliefs and related health care diseases and diagnoses (these are covered in detail in several other places at this site.)  Due to this ever evolving African/African American presence in the United States, we have these places where tradition has taken over, and where a modern form of African medicine is being practiced in America.


Part 3. 

New York and Other Regions


Ultimately, I hope to put  the local early history of African culture and medicine in context with the history and geography of medicine in general for the United States.  Since some of these settings are fairly complex, I have begin producing some very detailed reviews of this part of our cultural medical history.  Except for scholars of African-American, Caribbean or Middle Eastern Muslim descent, there are few with a decent understanding of this part of our country’s heritage.  Also, many scholars involved with these studies do tend to go too far in certain directions for me to accept as a historian interested mostly in medical geography and history, not in the African movements history and its various culturally driven nuances.  Still, it is difficult to review this topic without seeing or becoming a product of the prejudicial approaches taken by pro- and anti-African writers common to the time. As I have noted elsewhere in fact, as well as in my classes on these kinds of topics, this is why I try to stay away from contemporary writers as much as possible during my initial reviews; I don’t need some other writer’s motives “coloring” my interpretation of this cultural medical history, not cultural or ethnic history.

There are a number of African people, African healers, Promoters of African and African American rights, and Anti-slavery writers of early years worth mentioning (and some noted on other pages).  The following are topics that first come to mind when I am trying to approach a study of Hudson valley culture and the role or relationship of African culture to local medicine:

  • African-American anti-slavery rights writers of Quaker upbringing (example?)
  • Jewish descent African anti-slavery rights activists (Dutchess County’s Isaac Marks was an example)
  • The influences of the Dutch on the slavery economy, culture and ultimately the lengthy and ever-changing history of each.

Those part of African or Carribean, or even “colored” aspects of medical history in this country that stand out are:

  • the Cajun communities down south, but especially in the Louisiana setting
  • Creole communities, not to be confused or blended too much with Cajuns, also in the Louisiana region, as well as neighboring states, and some former New France locations by the Great Lakes, their place of origins (see New France writings, and my page on this)
  • Caribbean in-migration settings, original and tradition (Florida westward and slightly northward)
  • South Atlantic Coastline settings, South Carolina into Georgia, with Hoodooist shoreline and island communities
  • Cajun-related Oba or Voodooist culture, near formerly Caribbean pre-1850 community settings, current Voodoo religion cultural centers
  • Muslim community settings, practicing traditional Unaniism (New Jersey-New York esp.)
  • Cuban migration, especially the results of a Cuban revival popular around 2000-2002.  The most popular topics then pertained to the the unique features of the Cuban health care system, but interests in Cuban foodways soonafter ensued.

Historical cultural subjects, with contemporary influence upon African-American culture and health:

  • Plantation settings
  • Manumitted farmworkers’ settings
  • Current African/African American Public Health Issues

In my recent ventures into public health, a number of new concerns have surfaced.  Not that these are anything new, it’s just that interest in the potential differences between morbidity-mortality and health care utilization practices for Caucasian/White versus other populations has finally enabled community programs to be developed and better funded. The more popular topics related to African and African-American diseases are diabetes, asthma, urban disease patterns, poverty and disease, breast and cervical cancer screening and early diagnosis rates, to name a few.

On another series of essays, I defined the means for studying cultural medicine as a contemporary population health epidemiologists.  There were two main processes I defined for this sort of review, which can be applied here as well.

The first step in reviewing African culture in the Hudson Valley setting, much less any other setting, is to define the following demographic size-space relationships for African/African American [AA] traditions:

  • family,
  • community,
  • neighborhood (or religious group),
  • primary AA midwife/doctor(s),
  • town or village (akin to today’s business/insurance service agent), and
  • very large area or region.

The second step is to extract and reassess your information with the following identification and classification method in mind for disease/disorder medical conditions:

  • cultural or foreign born infectious and non-infectious disease patterns (in-migrated disease patterns)
  • culturally-bound (mostly psychosomatic, peer/family-supported)
  • culturally-linked (non-infectious, of physiological cause, such as genetic and/or developmental, sometimes partially behavioral),
  • culturally-related (influences other cultures as well, but with higher rates with AAs),

Early African and African American influence–Near and Far

Focusing on the influences of African and African American culture on the colonies and United States, primarily by way of medical journals and periodicals published prior to 1850 (some later writings are reviewed if they include important historical data), the following special topics have been identified pertaining to health, medicine, population, longevity, and health care practice habits:

  • Medical plant philosophy and use
  • Culturally and regionally prevalent disease patterns, medical practices, and migration behaviors
  • Culturally-bound syndromes
  • Culturally-defined practices
  • African-American Disease Diffusion and Geography
  • Slavery, Infectious Disease, and Immunization


Part 4


The following are items/pages/handouts developed for research and teaching purposes.  Many of these are very interesting readings for the time, and provide us with an opportunity to more fully understand the role of Caribbean and African/African American culture in United States medical practices and culture.  There are a number of “firsts” in this section, such as the first time US physicians recognized certain culturally bound syndrome in the United States and US colonies/colonial allies parts of this region, or attempted to make use of the philosophy and herbal medicine traditions of these people.  The contemporary epidemiology section on ‘Cultural Metrics’ defines how to possibly review a contemporary setting for a given cultural and anthropological medicine influence.  This is very much applicable to the new ICD10 version of medicine being promoted, as the new epidemiological Quality Improvement (QI) world abides by and further defines improves upon the current Managed Care medicine system known as “Obamacare”.  This way of reviewing cultural medicine will be very applicable to the future of QI and research in cultural medicine in general, whether or not it relates to African Americans, Hispanic culture, Native Americans, Oriental medicine followers, or simply the socioeconomically deprived.

Contemporary, Modern Epidemiological Mapping Techniques, with Cultural Medicine, Medical Anthropology applications

SES, Ethnicity and Health


Regional Disease Patterns in General

By Specific Regions

Gold Coast and Vicinity



    • Malacia Africanorum (Clay Pica)
    • Jamaican Fever
    • Yellow Fever

There are several distinguished African and African-Carribean characters in American or United States history. These include the following:

  • A Chef, and perhaps chemist and apothecary, employed on board a ship exploring the southern part of the New World
  • One of several servants working for the Filipse family alongside a servant from India, late 17th C., Westchester County area–is it possible this is one of our first muslim servants?
  • An African-American use of an herb exploited by a southern doctor
  • Early Lamarckianism, Darwinism, and Social Darwinism–the birth of the American White Supremacy movement (as they called it then) during the 1870s (Still to be reviewed)

African Philosophies and Traditions

A number of books could be identified, most from the antebellum period, pertaining to African history, life and medicine as these relate to US and slave trade history.   A few examples of these for immediate review are:

RECOMMENDED GOOGLE BOOKS READING (I recommend only older, traditional books)

LINKS to pages

LINKS to map videos


Getting good clean results (avoiding extraneous books) from a Google Search of this topic is difficult. The following worked pretty well.