The source of white genes in black Americans

Shared by Kevin I. Slaughter

This is interesting supplemental information to go along with the (as of yet unfinished) notes from “Up from Slavery”

Vanishing American writes:

Another reprehensible myth that is all too widely accepted by many Whites is the idea that ”most blacks have some White ancestry” — a notion that I think is exaggerated –and moreover, that this infusion of White DNA into the black gene pool is the result of ‘rapist slave owners.’ Somehow everybody seems to accept the allegation that slave-owning aristocrats routinely forced their ‘attentions’ on female slaves. There is little evidence to back up this notion. Presuming that the White genes were introduced back during slavery, why assume that the slave owner was the source? Why not overseers, White field hands, or others at lower levels of society?

An analysis of census data tends to support VA:

Evidence is also available indirectly from the censuses of 1850 and 1860. The enumerators of these censuses listed the color of slaves as black or mulatto. The percentage of mulattoes reported in the slave population was 7.70 in 1850 and 10.41 in 1860. [. . .]

Historians have implicated all social classes in miscegenation. Slaves lived in closest contact with owners and overseers, and unmarried owners and overseers on absentee estates may have been most heavily involved. According to Stampp, “Men of the nonslaveholding class were responsible for much of the miscegenation . . . Female slaves were quite accessible to both rural and urban nonslaveholders.” Contacts were usually casual but relationships sometimes evolved into concubinage that lasted sev- eral years and occasionally for life. [. . .]

The estimated regression is used to calculate the probabilities that a slave child was mulatto. The probabilities are an index of the relative frequency of sexual relations. The chances that a child was a mulatto declined with the size of the holding and the number of slaves per dwelling, and they increased with the proportion mulatto among adults aged 15-49 on the plantation, the proportion white among males aged 15-49 in the county, and with city size. The probabilities were relatively higher on sugar plantations as compared with cotton plantations, in urban areas, in the slave exporting states, and on small holdings where no slave dwellings were listed. The probability was lower on rice plantations as compared with cotton plantations.

Several explanatory variables are positively related to the chances that a slave woman would have encountered a white who did not live on the holding, which suggests that a high proportion of sexual contacts were not attributable to the owner. Increasing the proportion white among males aged 15-49 in the county from .45 to .55 nearly triples the probability that a child was mulatto. The probability was also low in rice agriculture where the density of white settlement was low, and was high in urban areas where the density of white settlement was high.

[Richard H. Steckel. Miscegenation and the American Slave Schedules. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Autumn, 1980), pp. 251-263.]

That American blacks average 18-22% white genes suggests only a very low incidence of miscegenation per generation:

one out of every four Negroes living in a southern city was a mulatto. But among rural slaves, who constituted 95 percent of the slave population, only 9.9 percent were mulatto in 1860. For the slave population as a whole, therefore, the proportion of mulattoes was just 10.4 percent in 1860 and 7.7 percent in 1850. Thus it appears that travelers to the South greatly exaggerated the extent of miscegenation because they came into contact with unrepresentative samples of the Negro population. They appear to have had much more contact with the freedmen and slaves of the urban areas than with slaves living in the relative isolation of the countryside. Far from proving that the exploitation of black women was ubiquitous, the available data on mulattoes strongly militates against that contention.

The fact that during the twenty-three decades of contact between slaves and whites which elapsed between 1620 and 1850, only 7.7 percent of the slaves were mulattoes suggests that on average only a very small percentage of the slaves born in any given year were fathered by white men. [. . .]

Measurements of the admixture of “Caucasian” and “Negro” genes among southern rural blacks today indicate that the share of Negro children fathered by whites on slave plantations probably averaged between 1 and 2 percent.

[Fogel and Engerman. Time on the cross: the economics of American Negro slavery.]

BookLiberator DIY Kit Let's You (Slowly) Digitize Your Entire Library [DIY]

Shared by Kevin I. Slaughter

I’ve been looking at these two-camera book scanners over the past few months, trying to decide if I want to try to build one. If these guys put out a kit, I might jump on it. – KIS

BookLiberator DIY Kit Let's You (Slowly) Digitize Your Entire LibraryThe BookLiberator Project is kit of open source hardware and software, designed to help you digitize your personal library without damaging your collection. It won’t spare you from having to turn each page, but it is some seriously clever design.

The process works by photographing each page, two at a time, via two simple point and shoot cameras attached to the BookLiberator frame. You’ll have to supply the cameras yourself unless you want to buy them from BookLiberator, but the frame streamlines the process immensely by insuring that the pages will be lined up in each shot. From here, the accompanying software scans the photographed pages and converts them into organized text, spitting out a digitized ebook in a variety of formats. The only caveat is that you’ll still need to pick up the frame and turn each page manually, so consider stretching out before tackling the digitization of War and Peace.

We’ve covered book scanning technology before, but this method looks like it could hit a sweet spot between cost, convenience, and simplicity (or lack thereof).

The group behind the BookLiberator hopes to have kits ready for sale soon ($120 sans cameras, $200 if you need them), and instructions are available online if you want to make your own right now. [BookLiberator Project via MAKE]