William Leo Hansberry is considered by many to be the father of African Studies in the United States. During the thirty-seven years that Hansberry taught at Howard University, he laid the foundations for the systematic study of African History culture and politics. For over fifty years, Hansberry collected various kinds of data on African history and accumulated an impressive personal collection of notes, lectures, speeches, books, articles, pamphlets, and visual aids pertaining to the whole field of African studies. However, Hansberry focused much of his scholarly efforts on ancient and medieval Ethiopian history.
Pillars in Ethiopian History Vol. I, The William Leo Hansberry African History Notebook, Volume I, edited by Joseph E. Harris, is taken from only a small portion of William Leo Hansberry's private papers. The four essays in Volume I, better described as narrative histories, decipher and remove from the entanglement of myth, legend and spurious historical documentation the pillars of Ethiopia's unity. The essays deal with the traditional pillars of Ethiopian history, such as the Queen of Sheba legend, the origin and development of Ethiopian Christianity, and medieval international relations, which supports the book's central theme, the foundation of Ethiopian unity. (The editor, Joseph Harris, is the former chairman of the Department of History at Howard University.)