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Archived News Release from 2004

For Immediate Release

Redwood City Public Library Offers Fascinating and Rare Presentation on African American Sailors in the Civil War Period ~ Part of Black History Month

Redwood City, CA - February 10, 2004 - The Friends of the Redwood City Public Library are happy to present a special evening with William B. Gould IV, author and Stanford University Emeritus Professor of Law, in celebration of Black History Month. Professor Gould will show slides and discuss his fascinating book, "Diary of a Contraband: The Civil War Passage of a Black Sailor," on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 at 7:30 pm in the Community Room of the Main Library, 1044 Middlefield Road. The program is free and the public is invited to attend.

The book is based on the diary of William Gould, the author's great-grandfather, and is one of only three known diaries of African American sailors from the Civil War period. Gould escaped slavery in September 1862 by rowing to a Union gunboat, the U.S.S. Cambridge, where he was taken aboard and served in the Navy for the remainder of the Civil War. The diary details Gould's daily life in the Navy and offers his views on the war, military engagements, race, and race relations in the Navy. A dramatic and eloquent story, reviewers have called the book, "the stuff of movies."

The Gould family was unaware of the diary until 1958, when an elderly relative died and the family stumbled upon the diary in the attic of a house in Dedham, Massachusetts. Author Gould called the experience "chilling." He spent thirty years researching and writing the book that elaborates on his relative's diary. Professor Gould, who served in the Clinton administration as chairman of the National Labor Relations Board from 1994 to 1998, has written numerous books and articles on labor law and is among the most respected experts on labor law in the United States. He is currently the Charles A. Beardsley Professor Emeritus of Law at Stanford University and the William M. Ramsey Distinguished Professor of Law at Willamette College.

The Redwood City Public Library offers many free programs for children, adults, and families, and helps our community to "understand the past, prepare for the future, and thrive in the present.” For more information about library events and services you may pick up a calendar in any Redwood City library, visit the library's home page at, or call 780-7026. Visit Redwood City's main website at for information about the City and its services, the community, recreation programs, education, City government, and local business.

Celia LaRiviere
Resource Development Supervisor
(650) 780-7045



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