Families and Freedom: A Documentary History of African-American Kinship in the Civil War Era

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Through the dramatic and moving letters and testimony of freed slaves, Families and Freedom tells the story of the remaking of the black family during the tumultuous years of the Civil War era. Drawn from the work of the award-winning Freedmen and Southern Society project at the University of Maryland, the book is a sequel to the 1994 Lincoln Prize winner, Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War. Former slaves, free blacks, and their contemporaries recount the elation ...
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Overview

Through the dramatic and moving letters and testimony of freed slaves, Families and Freedom tells the story of the remaking of the black family during the tumultuous years of the Civil War era. Drawn from the work of the award-winning Freedmen and Southern Society project at the University of Maryland, the book is a sequel to the 1994 Lincoln Prize winner, Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War. Former slaves, free blacks, and their contemporaries recount the elation accompanying the reunion of brothers and sisters separated for half a lifetime and the anguished realization that time lost could never be made up. We encounter the quiet satisfaction of legitimizing a marriage once denied by law and the unspeakable sadness of discovering that a long-lost spouse had remarried, the pride of establishing an independent household and the shame of not being able to protect it. In their words, we share the hope that freedom would ensure the sanctity of family life and the fear that the new order would betray freedom's greatest promise.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Berlin and Rowland are, respectively, the former and present directors of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland. In this sturdy sequel to Free at Last, they present documents, primarily letters written by African Americans, that illustrate the stark brutalities of slavery in the 1860s. In the border states of Missouri, Maryland and Kentucky, where slavery remained legal despite the Emancipation Proclamation, black men who had joined the Union army were often arrested by civil authorities when they went home to help their families. When blacks entered army camps, often their families occupied shanty towns nearby. Many soldiers complained to their white commanders about their families' wretched living conditions; some even wrote to President Lincoln. Letters from blacks in the North show that they endured the same problems as whites-only magnified because free blacks in the North toiled on the fringes of the economy. There's also material on the immediate postwar situation of black families. Black units remained in service as occupation troops and on the Mexican border while their loved ones at home suffered discrimination and vengeance from former slave owners. Letters describing the sudden ability of blacks to form legal marriages in the South underscore the inhuman conditions of slavery, as do the missives of those futilely searching for kin sold off years earlier. With each letter preceded by a brief explanatory note, this valuable collection of primary documents contributes to our understanding of 19th-century black social history; it also can serve as an excellent college text. (Jan.)
Library Journal
This is the sixth installment of a Freedman and Southern Society-sponsored study entitled Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867. The impeccable standards established by the editors in the previous works (most recently, The Slaves' Economy, International Specialized Book Svcs., 1995) are rigorously maintained in this one. The joy and horror evoked by these historical documents are certain to remain with the reader for a long time. As the title suggests, the focus here is the complex familial relations of African Americans of the time. Because family ties were discouraged if not forbidden by slavery, the concept of the extended family developed and has survived to today. Slaves, thus deprived, acquired "family" where they could. The documents presented here examine these blood and extended relationships with poignancy. This work (and the entire series preceding it) is not merely highly recommended for all public and academic libraries; it is sine qua non for even the most rudimentary American history collection.-Don R. Brusha, Sebring P.L., Fla.
Booknews
A sequel to the 1994 Lincoln Prize winner, "Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War", presenting letters and testimony of freed slaves, each with an explanatory introduction and afterword, telling the story of the remaking of the black family during the Civil War era. Includes b&w photos and illustrations. For general readers. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565840263
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/1/1997
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author


Ira Berlin and Leslie S. Rowland, editors of Free at Last (The New Press), teach history at the University of Maryland. They are former and present directors, respectively, of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project, which is compiling a multivolume documentary history of the transition from slavery to freedom.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
Editorial Method
Short Titles and Abbreviations
Introduction 3
Ch. I Escape, Rescue, and Recapture: Families and the Wartime Struggle for Freedom 21
Ch. II Families in the Union-Occupied Confederacy 55
Ch. III Soldiers' Families in the Free States 79
Ch. IV Soldiers' Families in the Border States 95
Ch. V Soldiers' Families and the Postwar Army of Occupation 119
Ch. VI Husbands and Wives 155
Ch. VII Parents and Children 193
Ch. VIII Extended Kinship: The Family Writ Large 225
Notes 245
Index 251
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