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Milton C. Sernett

Milton C. Sernett

Contact Information:


200 Sims Hall

Milton C. Sernett

Professor Emeritus, History Department

Professor Emeritus, African American Studies, College of Arts & Sciences

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of Delaware, 1972

Areas of Expertise

African American religious history, slavery and abolition

Research Grant Awards and Projects

Research grant, Onondaga Country Freedom Trail (with Judith Wellman)    
Vision Fund grant, Syracuse Univ., Underground Railroad Course, 2001
Multiple Site Nomination grant, Underground Railroad, National Parks Service (with Judith Wellman, etc.), 1999
Workshop on the Underground Railroad, Documentary Heritage Program (with Judith Wellman), 1998
Senior Fulbright Scholar, John F. Kennedy Institüt, Freie Universität, Berlin, 1994-95
Research Associate, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University, 1988-89
American Philosophical Society Grant, 1988-89
National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Fellowship, 1988
Faculty Senate Research Grant, 1987
African American Institute Grant, Albany, New York, 1987-88
Lutheran Educational Conference of North America Grant, 1984
Faculty Senate Research Grant, Summer 1979
N.D.E.A. Fellowship, 1968-72  

Selected Publications


Harriet Tubman Remembered: The Forging of an American Icon (Current Book Projects)
Harriet Tubman, the Life and the Legend: An Illustrated Biography (Current Book Projects)
NORTH STAR COUNTRY: Upstate New York and the Crusade for African American Freedom. Syracuse:  Syracuse University Press, 2002. Now in second printing.    
AFRICAN AMERICAN RELIGIOUS HISTORY: A DOCUMENTARY WITNESS.  Second, revised edition. Durham and London: Duke University Press,  1999.  vi + 588 pp.
BOUND FOR THE PROMISED LAND: African American Religion and the Great Migration. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 1997. x + 345 pp.
ABOLITION'S AXE: Beriah Green, Oneida Institute, and the Black Freedom Struggle.  Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1986. vx + 199 pp.  Paperback edition with new preface, forthcoming
AFRO-AMERICAN RELIGIOUS HISTORY: A Documentary Witness.  Durham, N. C.: Duke University Press, 1985.  497 pp. + index. [Selected as 1985-86 Choice Outstanding Academic Book]
AFRO-AMERICAN RELIGIOUS HISTORY: Documents and Interpretations.  Syracuse: Syracuse University, 1981.  Anthology of readings supported in part by a grant from the Andrew E. Mellon Foundation.  424 pp.                       
BLACK RELIGION AND AMERICAN EVANGELICALISM: White Protestants, Plantation Missions, and the Flowering of Negro Christianity, 1787-1865.  Foreword by Marty E. Marty.  Metuchen, N. J.: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1975. xvi + 320 pp.

Articles, Essays, Book Chapters

“Abolition,” “Beriah Green,” “Gerrit Smith,” “New York Central College,” and “Oneida Institute,” for The Encyclopedia of New York State, Syracuse University Press, forthcoming 2005.
“New Yorkers in the Reconstruction Era,” sidebar for my essay on abolitionism for The Encyclopedia of New York State, forthcoming 2005.
“Reading Freedom’s Memory Book: Reflections on Recovering the Story of the Underground Railroad in New York State,” chapter for book on The Underground Railroad: History & Memory, edited by David W. Blight, to be published by the Smithsonian Press for the National Underground Freedom Center, Cincinnati, O. in 2004
Introductory essay, Gerrit Smith Digital Project, 2002
“African American Religions,” for Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2001).
“Underground Railroad,” for Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2001).
“African American Religion,” for The Oxford Companion to United States History (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2001). P. 11.
“On Freedom’s Trail: Researching the Underground Railroad in New York State,” for Afro-Americans in New York Life and History 25, 1 (January 2001): 7-32.
“Re-readings: The Great Migration and the Bible,” in African Americans and the Bible, edited by Vincent L. Wimbush. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc., 2000.  Pp. 448-63.
“Foreword.” Intimate Circles of Activism: Abolitionists of Central New York: 1830-1870. Catalog of an Exhibition Curated by Bonnie Ryan. Syracuse University Library. Summer 1999. v.
“The Expatriate Option: Some blacks, like George Liele, had to emigrate to live and minister freely.”  Christian History VIII, 2 (May 1999), 32-33.
Entries on William G. Allen, William H. Allen, Andrew Bryan, Lott Cary, John Anderson Collins, George W. Gale, Henry Highland Garnet, David George, Beriah Green, John Jasper, George Liele, Jermain Wesley Loguen, Thomas Paul, Stephen Gill Spottswood , Alvan Stewart, and Samuel Ringgold Ward.  American National Biography. 24 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
“Richard Allen.” Entry in Religion in Geschicte und Gegenwart. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1998. IV: 447.
"A.M.E. Church," "Black Theology," and "King, M. L."  Entries in The Harper Collins Dictionary of Religion. Edited by Jonathan Z. Smith and William Scott Green. San Francisco: Harper, 1995. Pp. 23; 117-18; and 626-27. 
Keynote Essay on "Religion", The Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. Edited by Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, and Cornel West. New York: Macmillan, 1995. Pp. 2298-2310.
"Sojourner Truth," in The Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching. Edited by Richard Lischer and William H. Willimon. Louisville, Kt.: Westminster & John Knox Press, 1995. Pp.
“On Freedom’s Threshold: The African American Presence in Central New York, 1760-1940.” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History 19, 1 (January 1995): 43-91.
"Widening the Circle: The Pro-Life Appeal to the Abolitionist Legacy." In When Life and Choice Collide: Essays on Rhetoric and Abortion.  Ed. by David Mall. Libertyville, IL.: Kairos, Press, 1994. Pp. 159-89.
"Resources for Research: Part 1."  Newsletter, Pan African Studies at Syracuse University. Number 3 (Fall 1993): 15-18.
"Black Religion and the Question of Evangelical Identity." In The Variety of American Evangelicalism. Ed. by Donald W. Dayton and Robert K. Johnston.  Knoxville: Univ. of Tenn. Press, 1991. Pp. 135-47.
"On Freedom's Threshold: The African American Presence in Central New York, 1760-1940." In The African American Presence in New York State: Four Regional History Surveys, ed. by Monroe Fordham (Albany, N. Y.: The New York African American Institute, 1989): 51-78.
"Slave Preachers."  In Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery. Edited by John David Smith and Randall M. Miller.  Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 1988.  Pp. 582-86.
"When Chicago was Canaan." Newsletter of the Afro-American Religious History Group of the American Academy of Religion.  Part 1, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Fall 1988): 7-13.  Part 2, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Spring 1989): 6-12.
"Response to `Lutheran Revivalism: A Request for a Reappraisal'." Essays and Reports, 1986: The Lutheran Historical Conference.  Vol. XII (1988). Pp. 118-21.
"A Citizen of `No Mean City': Jermain W. Loguen and the Antislavery Reputation of Syracuse."  Syracuse University Library Associates Courier.  Vol. XXII, 2 (Fall 1987):33-55.
"Common Cause: The Antislavery Alliance of Gerrit Smith and Beriah Green." Syracuse University Library Associates Courier. Vol. XXI, No. 2 (Fall 1986): 55-76
"First Honor: Oneida Institute's Role in the Fight Against American Racism and Slavery."  New York History.  Vol. LXVI, No. 2 (April 1985): 101-22.                              
"The Efficacy of Religious Participation in the National Debates over Abolitionism and Abortion."  Religion in Life.  Vol. 64, No. 2 (April 1984): 205-20.
"Lutheran Abolitionism in New York State: A Problem in Historical Explication."  In Essays and Reports: The Lutheran Historical Conference, 1982.  Volume X (1984).  St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia
Historical Institute, 1984.  Pp. 16-37.
"A Beriah Green Bibliography."  Newsletter of the Afro-American Religious History Group of the American Academy of Religion. Vol. 8, No. 1 (Fall 1983): 7-13.
"Confession of a Man of Principle."  Newsletter of the Afro-American Religious History Group of the American Academy of Religion.  Vol. 7, No. 1 (Fall 1982): 7-8.
"A Question of Earnestness: American Lutheran Missions and Theological Education in Alabama's `Black Belt'."  In Essays and Reports: The Lutheran Historical Conference, 1980.  Volume IX
(1982).  St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Historical Institute, 1982. Pp. 80-117.
Geographic Considerations in Afro-American Religious History: Past Performance, Present Problems, and Future Hopes. Number 69, Discussion Paper Series, Department of Geography,
Syracuse University, 1981.  29 pp.
American Culture: Art, Literature, and Religion.  Co-authored with Charles Watson.  Syracuse University.  Humanities Cluster Manual, 1981.  19 pp.
"The Rights of Personhood:  The Dred Scott Case and the Question of Abortion."  Religion in Life.  Vol. XLIX, No. 4 (Winter 1980): 461-76.
"Welcoming the `Evangelicals'--A Call to End One-Upmanship." Currents in Theology and Missions.  Vol. 6, No. 3 (June 1979): 154-58.
"Believers as Behavers: Religion and Group Identity."  In Introduction to the Study of Religion.  Edited by T. William Hall.  New York: Harper & Row, 1978.  Pp. 217-30.
"Freed to Serve: Past Time, Present Place, Future Hopes." Proceedings of the Inaugural Assembly, East Coast Synod, Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, November 12-13
"Insiders and Outsiders: Interpretations of the Black Church Independence Movement."  Review of Afro-American Issues and Culture.  Vol. 1, No. 1 (Fall 1978): 12-31.
"Boll Weevils, Baptists, and Black Religion: The Southern Exposure."  In Archives and History: Minutes and Reports of the 14th Archivists' and Historian's Conference.  St. Lous, Mo.: Concordia Historical Institute, 1977.  Pp. 77-87.
"Mapping Freedom's Frontiers: Notes Toward an Historical Geography of Nineteenth Century African Methodism."  Proceedings of the New York State Conference on Black Studies, December 1-2, 1976.  Syracuse New York.  Pp. 58-63.
"Images of Black Religion: An Historical Kaleidoscope." The Springfielder.  Vol. XXXVII, No. 1 (June 1973): 1-7.
"The Death with Dignity Debate: Why We Care."  The Springfielder. Vol. XXXVII, No. 4 (March 1975): 265-77.
"Behold the American Cleric: The Protestant Minister as `Pattern Man,' 1850-1900."  In Winterthur Portfolio 8.  Edited by Ian M. G. Quimby.  Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia
for the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1973.  Pp. 1-18. 

Previous Teaching Appointments

Professor, Syracuse University 1990
Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Religion, Syracuse University 1980
Associate Professor, Syracuse University 1979
Tenured, May, Syracuse University 1979
Assistant Professor, Syracuse University 1975