Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery

Univ of North Carolina Press
6
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After the Civil War, African Americans placed poignant "information wanted" advertisements in newspapers, searching for missing family members. Inspired by the power of these ads, Heather Andrea Williams uses slave narratives, letters, interviews, public records, and diaries to guide readers back to devastating moments of family separation during slavery when people were sold away from parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Williams explores the heartbreaking stories of separation and the long, usually unsuccessful journeys toward reunification. Examining the interior lives of the enslaved and freedpeople as they tried to come to terms with great loss, Williams grounds their grief, fear, anger, longing, frustration, and hope in the history of American slavery and the domestic slave trade.

Williams follows those who were separated, chronicles their searches, and documents the rare experience of reunion. She also explores the sympathy, indifference, hostility, or empathy expressed by whites about sundered black families. Williams shows how searches for family members in the post-Civil War era continue to reverberate in African American culture in the ongoing search for family history and connection across generations.

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About the author

Heather Andrea Williams is Presidential Term Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom.

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Reviews

3.3
6 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Univ of North Carolina Press
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Published on
Jun 1, 2012
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Pages
264
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ISBN
9780807882658
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 19th Century
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Heather Andrea Williams
Europeans, Africans, and American Indians practiced slavery long before the first purchase of a captive African by a white land-owner in the American colonies; that, however, is the image of slavery most prevalent in the minds of Americans today. This Very Short Introduction begins with the Portuguese capture of Africans in the 1400s and traces the development of American slavery until its abolition following the Civil War. Historian Heather Andrea Williams draws upon the rich recent scholarship of numerous highly-regarded academics as well as an analysis of primary documents to explore the history of slavery and its effects on the American colonies and later the United States of America. Williams examines legislation that differentiated American Indians and Africans from Europeans as the ideology of white supremacy flourished and became an ingrained feature of the society. These laws reflected the contradiction of America's moral and philosophical ideology that valorized freedom on one hand and justified the enslavement of a population deemed inferior on another. She explores the tense and often violent relationships between the enslaved and the enslavers, and between abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates as those who benefited from the institution fought to maintain and exert their power. Williams is attentive to the daily labors that enslaved people performed, reminding readers that slavery was a system of forced labor with economic benefits that produced wealth for a new nation, all the while leaving an indelible mark on its history. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
Heather Andrea Williams
Europeans, Africans, and American Indians practiced slavery long before the first purchase of a captive African by a white land-owner in the American colonies; that, however, is the image of slavery most prevalent in the minds of Americans today. This Very Short Introduction begins with the Portuguese capture of Africans in the 1400s and traces the development of American slavery until its abolition following the Civil War. Historian Heather Andrea Williams draws upon the rich recent scholarship of numerous highly-regarded academics as well as an analysis of primary documents to explore the history of slavery and its effects on the American colonies and later the United States of America. Williams examines legislation that differentiated American Indians and Africans from Europeans as the ideology of white supremacy flourished and became an ingrained feature of the society. These laws reflected the contradiction of America's moral and philosophical ideology that valorized freedom on one hand and justified the enslavement of a population deemed inferior on another. She explores the tense and often violent relationships between the enslaved and the enslavers, and between abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates as those who benefited from the institution fought to maintain and exert their power. Williams is attentive to the daily labors that enslaved people performed, reminding readers that slavery was a system of forced labor with economic benefits that produced wealth for a new nation, all the while leaving an indelible mark on its history. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
Heather Andrea Williams
Europeans, Africans, and American Indians practiced slavery long before the first purchase of a captive African by a white land-owner in the American colonies; that, however, is the image of slavery most prevalent in the minds of Americans today. This Very Short Introduction begins with the Portuguese capture of Africans in the 1400s and traces the development of American slavery until its abolition following the Civil War. Historian Heather Andrea Williams draws upon the rich recent scholarship of numerous highly-regarded academics as well as an analysis of primary documents to explore the history of slavery and its effects on the American colonies and later the United States of America. Williams examines legislation that differentiated American Indians and Africans from Europeans as the ideology of white supremacy flourished and became an ingrained feature of the society. These laws reflected the contradiction of America's moral and philosophical ideology that valorized freedom on one hand and justified the enslavement of a population deemed inferior on another. She explores the tense and often violent relationships between the enslaved and the enslavers, and between abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates as those who benefited from the institution fought to maintain and exert their power. Williams is attentive to the daily labors that enslaved people performed, reminding readers that slavery was a system of forced labor with economic benefits that produced wealth for a new nation, all the while leaving an indelible mark on its history. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
Heather Andrea Williams
Europeans, Africans, and American Indians practiced slavery long before the first purchase of a captive African by a white land-owner in the American colonies; that, however, is the image of slavery most prevalent in the minds of Americans today. This Very Short Introduction begins with the Portuguese capture of Africans in the 1400s and traces the development of American slavery until its abolition following the Civil War. Historian Heather Andrea Williams draws upon the rich recent scholarship of numerous highly-regarded academics as well as an analysis of primary documents to explore the history of slavery and its effects on the American colonies and later the United States of America. Williams examines legislation that differentiated American Indians and Africans from Europeans as the ideology of white supremacy flourished and became an ingrained feature of the society. These laws reflected the contradiction of America's moral and philosophical ideology that valorized freedom on one hand and justified the enslavement of a population deemed inferior on another. She explores the tense and often violent relationships between the enslaved and the enslavers, and between abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates as those who benefited from the institution fought to maintain and exert their power. Williams is attentive to the daily labors that enslaved people performed, reminding readers that slavery was a system of forced labor with economic benefits that produced wealth for a new nation, all the while leaving an indelible mark on its history. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
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