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The Story of Ancient Nations

***The staff of the Jim Crow Museum receives dozens of letters and emails. Some of these communiques offer insight into race relations -- historically and in the present. While some are hateful, we have decided to share some of these letters and emails with our Internet visitors.***

I have recently seen a documentary regarding the Jim Crow Museum on our local PBS station KVIE 6, Sacramento, CA, and felt compelled to write you regarding a textbook I have in my posession. This book belonged to my maternal grandfather, and it was his high school text for Ancient History. The book is entitled "The Story of Ancient Nations" and I believe it may well have a place in your museum, or at the very least, may be of some value to your university's sociology department, as it is filled with racist overtones and outright statements of inequity that were presented as historical fact for many years in American public high schools.

The book was authored by William L. Westermann, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin in 1912. The introduction contains the following passage on page one, "It is not necessary, however to take up the story of all nations which lived upon the earth during that long stretch of time. We can deal only with those which have done most in developing the ideas that have given to us the present civilized life of Europe and America; for our own American society is so like that of Europe, that it is safe to speak of the two as the European-American civilization of today. The nations of ancient times which made the greatest contributions to this civilization were the early Egyptians, the Babylonians, and Assyrians, the Cretans, the Hittites, the Hebrews, the Greeks, the Romans, and the early Gremans. Upon them therefore, our study will be centered."

It seems Prof. Westermann was not satisfied that he was clear enough, so he adds, "All of them belong to the White Race of mankind, not to the Yellow or Black Races. It is the White Race which has done the most in advancing the civilization of the world."

The book contains such commentary throughout, and the author actually suggests that ancient Egyptians were white or mixed (though none of those who really mattered were mixed of course) and claims that modern Africans still exist in a stone age state of cultural development.

If you feel as I do that this book may be of some use to your museum, University library, or sociology department, please let me know and I will gladly donate it.

Thank you for your consideration and for the valuable work you continue to do,

Jerry Braverman
Sacramento, California
-- Feb. 10, 2005