Catalogue


Forging freedom : Black women and the pursuit of liberty in antebellum Charleston /
Amrita Chakrabarti Myers.
imprint
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c2011.
description
xi, 267 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0807835056 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780807835050 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c2011.
isbn
0807835056 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780807835050 (cloth : alk. paper)
contents note
Introduction : imagining freedom in the slave South -- City of contrasts : Charleston before the Civil War -- A way out of no way : Black women and manumission -- To survive and thrive : race, sex, and waged labor in the city -- The currency of citizenship : property ownership and Black female freedom -- A tale of two women : the lives of Cecille Cogdell and Sarah Sanders -- A fragile freedom : the story of Margaret Bettingall and her daughters -- Epilogue : the continuing search for freedom.
catalogue key
8211688
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 249-261) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
In this deeply researched social history, Myers analyzes the ways in which black women in Charleston acquired, defined, and defended their own vision of freedom. Drawing on legislative and judicial materials, probate data, tax lists, church records, family papers, and more, Myers creates detailed portraits of individual women while exploring how black female Charlestonians sought to create a fuller freedom by improving their financial, social, and legal standing.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2012-06-01:
Myers (Indiana Univ.-Bloomington) offers an analysis of black women's struggles for freedom in Charleston during the early republic and antebellum years. She traces the stories of different women who used the white male-dominated legal system to acquire and maintain their legal and economic freedom. The author aims to identify contested forms of freedom based on one's gender, class, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, and geography, as well as a person's chronology and residence. She shows how black women worked within the system and turned it to their advantage in securing their freedom and gaining economic security in some cases as well. According to Myers, freedom was not the only objective for black women. Even more, freedom enabled black women to improve their economic and social standing in order to gain true independence. Myers addresses issues that have not been thoroughly researched thus far, offering keen insight into how black women defined freedom and independence in a system in which they were arguably the most marginalized group in society. An important contribution to the growing scholarly canon on the long-silenced voices of black women, both enslaved and free. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. C. Warren Empire State College
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A carefully argued work that makes an invaluable contribution to the larger historiography of African American women. . . . Any academic, student, local or regional scholar interested in Urban America, Women's History, Antebellum South, and African American history will find value in this study." - Southern Historian
"Amrita Chakrabarti Myers impressively captures and illuminates the tenuous security of black women's lives and freedom as they struggled for personal and familial stability and upward mobility in nineteenth-century Charleston. This book is an outstanding contribution to our understanding of black women's negotiated freedoms and will have a lasting influence in African American, emancipation, and slavery studies."--Leslie A. Schwalm, University of Iowa, author of Emancipation's Diaspora: Race and Reconstruction in the Upper Midwest and A Hard Fight for We: Women's Transition from Slavery to Freedom in South Carolina
"An important contribution to the growing scholarly canon on the long-silenced voices of black women, both enslaved and free. Highly recommended. All levels/libraries." - Choice
"Carefully researched and lucidly written." - Journal of American History
" Forging Freedom gives voice to a heretofore voiceless and largely forgotten group of free black women. Through the fascinating stories of their struggles for rights and dignity, Myers constructs a well-researched and vivid portrait of the methods black women used to negotiate their freedom and to determine their destiny as well as a more inclusive and accurate history of the city of Charleston during the antebellum era."--Janice L. Sumler-Edmond, Huston-Tillotson University, author of The Secret Trust of Aspasia Cruvellier Mirault: The Life and Trials of a Free Woman of Color in Antebellum Georgia
"Myers' richly-documented Forging Freedom provides a vivid portrait of [freedwomen's] lives." - Civil War Book Review
"Myers's compelling study makes a significant contribution to this literature, drawing much-needed attention to the significance of the urban environment in shaping ideas of freedom in the pre-Civil War South and to the particularity of women's experiences." - Journal of Southern History
"What is so remarkable about this volume is Myer's attention to detail in uncovering these forgotten women's often astonishing stories and putting them in the context of the shifting laws and politics of the antebellum period. . . . This is definitely ground-breaking scholarship." - The South Carolina Historical Magazine
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, June 2012
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
For black women in antebellum Charleston, freedom was not a static legal category but a fragile and contingent experience. In this deeply researched social history, Amrita Chakrabarti Myers analyzes the ways in which black women in Charleston acquired, defined, and defended their own vision of freedom. Drawing on legislative and judicial materials, probate data, tax lists, church records, family papers, and more, Myers creates detailed portraits of individual women while exploring how black female Charlestonians sought to create a fuller freedom by improving their financial, social, and legal standing. Examining both those who were officially manumitted and those who lived as free persons but lacked official documentation, Myers reveals that free black women filed lawsuits and petitions, acquired property (including slaves), entered into contracts, paid taxes, earned wages, attended schools, and formed familial alliances with wealthy and powerful men, black and white--all in an effort to solidify and expand their freedom. Never fully free, black women had to depend on their skills of negotiation in a society dedicated to upholding both slavery and patriarchy. Forging Freedom examines the many ways in which Charleston's black women crafted a freedom of their own design instead of accepting the limited existence imagined for them by white Southerners.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: Imagining Freedom in the Slave Southp. 1
Glimpsing Freedom
City of Contrasts: Charleston before the Civil Warp. 21
Building Freedom
A Way Out of No Way: Black Women and Manumissionp. 39
To Survive and Thrive: Race, Sex, and Waged Labor in the Cityp. 77
The Currency of Citizenship: Property Ownership and Black Female Freedomp. 113
Experiencing Freedom
A Tale of Two Women: The Lives of Cecille Cogdell and Sarah Sandersp. 149
A Fragile Freedom: The Story of Margaret Bettingall and Her Daughtersp. 176
Epilogue: The Continuing Search for Freedomp. 203
Notesp. 211
Bibliographyp. 249
Indexp. 263
Illustrations
Nancy Westonp. 68
Black female street vendorsp. 97
Julia Sanders Venningp. 171
Will of Margaret Bellingallp. 192
Maps
Charleston, 1855p. 22
Charles Town Peninsular Area, Early 1700sp. 27
Tables
City Population by Condition and Race, 1790-1860p. 32
Women as Percentage of City Population, 1820-1860p. 33
Free Black Population in Four Cities, 1810p. 42
Black Women's Occupations, 1819-1859p. 93
Free Black Real Estate Ownership by Gender, 1859-1860p. 119
Free Black Ownership of Enslaved Persons by Gender, 1830-1859p. 124
Free Black Women Real Property Ownership, 1859-1861p. 137
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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