Thursday, September 02, 2010

New book by an MTU alumni

Christopher Nelson finished his MS in Industrial History and Archaeology at Michigan Technological University in 2009.  I am pleased to report that he has since reworked his thesis into a book, self-published this month using

The C. R. Patterson and Sons Company: Black Pioneers in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865-1939 (2010) tells the story of Charles Richard Patterson and his family.  C.R. was born an enslaved person.  In 1865 he set up a small company to manufacture carriages in Greenfield, Ohio, and Patterson became an industry leader in winter buggy design.  As the company grew, Patterson expanded the business with other members of his family, and the shop began producing automobiles, trucks, and eventually buses.  When C.R.'s son Frederick started making automobiles in 1915, Nelson wrote that he became the first and only African American-owned company to ever manufacture automobiles in the United States.  The Patterson family members were leaders within the both the mostly-white community of industrialists and also the African American communities.

After 74 years, the Patterson family ultimately lost their business in 1939 when a series of unfortunate events during the Great Depression forced the company to close the shop's doors.  Chris tells their story using documents, photographs, oral history, architecture, and objects.

To get your copy, bring these ISBN numbers to your local bookshop:
  • ISBN-10: 1453770305
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453770306
If you can't get your local bookstore to order a copy, you can order this book through Amazon by clicking this link:

Mr. Nelson took a position as a staff archaeologist with Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. in Hurricane, West Virginia, and is a Registered Professional Archaeologist.

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