Amanda Gibson (GLC Post-Doctoral Associate, Spring 2023; Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for the Study of American Democracy and the History Department, Kenyon College)
“’Worthy of Public Sympathy and Benevolence:’ The Creative Use of Subscription Schemes in Black Communities”
This research describes the use of subscription schemes by Black communities in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. Subscription schemes aligned the financial interests of subscribers and beneficiaries and established “creditworthiness” as a community attribute instead of an individual achievement. Black communities raised capital via subscription to accomplish shared goals—building churches, publishing anti-slavery tracts, and emancipating individuals from enslavement. I argue that the use of subscription financing by Black Americans and their white, anti-slavery allies strengthened these communities with a shared vision and financial purpose that prefigures later community banking practices.
Click on the video below to hear Dr. Gibson discuss her background in working with the Federal Reserve, and how contemporary concerns about racialized inequalities in access to credit and wealth disparities prompted her historical research into the origins of U.S. banking systems.