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Much of what is known about the experience of slavery comes from first-person accounts written by formerly enslaved men. In this volume, Jennifer Fleischner examines the first- and best-known female account of life under, and escape from, slavery — Harriet Jacobs’ autobiography. In her introduction, Fleischner shows how Jacobs used the written word to liberate herself and promote the end of slavery by carefully discussing her sexual exploitation as a slave in ways that would inspire sympathy in — and not offend — her Victorian white, middle-class, female audience. The rich collection of related documents that accompany Jacobs’ complete narrative — including a selection of Jacobs’ letters and her brother’s account of some of the same incidents Jacobs describes — illuminate Jacobs’ life, her thoughts about writing, and her relationships with white women abolitionists. Document headnotes, a chronology, questions for consideration, a selected bibliography, and a chart of the pseudonyms Jacobs used for her real-life characters further enrich this important contribution to the history of slavery in America.
PART ONE. INTRODUCTION: A New Voice for Freedom
Jacobs’s Early Life
What Really Happened?
Other Dominant Themes
The Power of the Pen
Pseudonyms of Key Figures in Incidents in the Life of a
Slave Girl, Written by Herself
PART TWO: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written
by Herself. Edited by L. Maria Child
PART THREE. RELATED DOCUMENTS
1. American Beacon, Advertisement for the Capture of Harriet
Jacobs, July 4, 1835
2. Lydia Maria Child, Charity Bowery, 1844
3. Harriet Jacobs, Letter to Amy Post, 1852?
4. Harriet Jacobs, Letter to Amy Post, April 4, 1853
5. Harriet Jacobs, Letter to Amy Post, March 1854
6. Harriet Jacobs, Letter to Amy Post, June 21, 1857
7. Lydia Maria Child, Letter to Harriet Jacobs, August 13, 1860
8. Weekly Anglo-African, Review of Incidents in the Life of a
Slave Girl, April 13, 1861
9. John S. Jacobs, A True Tale of Slavery, 1861
10. Harriet Jacobs, Life Among the Contrabands, 1862
11. Harriet Jacobs, Letter to Ednah Dow Cheney, April 25, 1867
A Harriet Jacobs Chronology (1813-1897)
Questions for Consideration
Posted January 1, 2012
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