From Bondage To Belonging: The Worcester Slave Narratives

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More About This Textbook

Overview

First published between 1842 and 1895, the autobiographical narratives gathered in this volume document the experiences of eight former slaves who eventually took up residence in Worcester, Massachusetts. Each narrative tells a gripping individual story, its author clearly visible in the dress of his or her own words. Together they illuminate not only the inhumanity of slavery but also the dreams and dilemmas of emancipation, tracing the personal journeys of seven men and one woman from bondage to freedom.

In their well-researched introduction, B. Eugene McCarthy and Thomas L. Doughton situate the Worcester slave narratives within a broader historical framework and analyze their meaning and significance. Drawing on a wide range of sources, they reconstruct the black community of Worcester and compare it with other New England black communities of the time, describing how the town evolved from a society with slaves in the colonial era to a hub for free blacks by the eve of the Civil War. They explain why these writings must be understood as part of a long-established tradition of African American self-representation, and show how the four narratives published before 1865 focus on the experience of slavery, while the four written after the war offer the fresh perspective of living in freedom.

Headnotes describe the distinctive literary features of each narrative and provide additional information about the lives of the authors. The editors discuss why these ex-slaves came to Worcester, the circumstances in which each wrote his or her narrative, and the audiences they had in mind. No other collection of slave narratives offers such a diverse range of testimony within a specifichistorical and literary context, or a more compelling account of the transition from bondage to belonging.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558496231
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 1/3/2008
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations     vii
Acknowledgments     ix
Foreword   John Stauffer     xi
General Introduction     xix
The Narratives
The Narrative of Lunsford Lane, Boston, 1842   Lunsford Lane     1
The Life of John Thompson, A Fugitive Slave, Worcester, 1856   John Thompson     38
The Experience of Rev. Thomas H. Jones, Worcester, 1857   Thomas H. Jones     120
A Narrative of the Life and Labors of the Rev. G. W. Offley, Hartford, 1859   G. W. Offley     160
Sketches of My Life in the South, Salem, 1879   Jacob Stroyer     174
The Narrative of Bethany Veney, A Slave Woman, Worcester, 1889   Bethany Veney     207
Life of Isaac Mason as a Slave, Worcester, 1893   Isaac Mason     238
Recollections of Slavery Times, Worcester, 1895   Allen Parker     286
Index     321
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