I just attended the Association of Professional Genealogists luncheon at FGS2011. I heard Kenyatta D. Berry speak about A. B. Caldwell and the treasure trove of information contained in his books.
Kenyatta’s genealogical career began when she researched the ancestor of a former boyfriend and stumbled upon Caldwell’s resource and found a treasure trove of information on this ancestor. The volumes provide biographies on individuals that contain a great deal of information such as the names of the parents, sometimes even grandparents, spouses and children of the individual. A non-exhaustive history of the individual is compiled. It is enough to get a researcher started.
A.B. Caldwell was a publisher who compiled books about prominent Negroes between 1917-1922 in the south. Berry told us he hired many people to interview African Americans to educate the public about their accomplishments after the Civil War. Some biographies even include photographs.
Caldwell has a set of seven volumes called History of the American Negro and his Institutions. There are some volumes on Internet Archive. You can read Volume 2 here. The volumes are broken out as Vols. 1-2, Georgia; v. 3, South Carolina; v. 4, North Carolina; v. 5, Virginia; v. 6, Washington, D.C.; v. 7 West Virginia. If you have African American research, these volumes may provide a wealth of information for your research.
The luncheon was fantastic from the food, chocolate cheesecake to the speaker. I learned a lot and hope you check out this set of books.