slave-narrative

Black history month day 14: social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman Frederick Douglas.

Frederick Douglas was born a slave in Maryland in February of 1818. It is likely that his father was also his first master. He celebrated his birthday on February 14, although there is no official record of his date of birth. He was taught the basics of reading by his master’s wife, but her husband discouraged it believing that an education would draw slaves to want freedom. Douglass later insisted that education was the pathway to freedom, and his eloquence stunned many people and challenged the idea that blacks were not capable of being educated enough to enter society as free citizens. In fact, Douglass was so well spoken that many accused him of having never been a slave.

Douglass wrote several autobiographies. Describing his experiences as a slave. His 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, became a bestseller and was influential in promoting the cause of abolition, as was his second book, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855).

After the Civil War, Douglass remained an active abolitionist as well as a women’s suffragist. He was active in the Republican Party. Douglass became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States as the running mate and Vice Presidential nominee of Victoria Woodhull, on the Equal Rights Party ticket.

After escaping slavery, Douglass married a free black woman, Anna Murray and the two remained married for over 40 years and had several children. After Anna died, Douglass remarried to a white feminist and abolitionist named Helen Pitts. Though interracial marriage was certainly rare at the time, Pitts and Douglass were quite in love and paid no mind to detractors, many within their own families. Douglass responded to the criticisms by saying that his first marriage had been to someone the color of his mother, and his second to someone the color of his father.

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September 3rd 1838: Douglass escapes

On this day in 1838, famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery in Maryland. Douglass was born into slavery, and when he was around twelve years old was taught the alphabet by the wife of his plantation owner. The young Douglass was soon able to read and write fluently, but had to keep his literacy a secret as slaveholders decided that an educated slave was dangerous. When it was discovered that he was teaching other slaves to read, Douglass was sent to a ‘slave breaker’, who frequently and brutally whipped him for alleged ‘insubordination’. Douglass’s education, and his experience of the horrors of enslavement, refined his critique of the institution of slavery. Douglass successfully escaped from his enslavement in September 1838, using the papers of a free sailor to board a train headed North, eventually arriving in the New York safe house of abolitionist David Ruggles. Douglass went on to become a prominent abolitionist, famous for his eloquent oratory and his intelligence, which disproved slaveholders’ claims that slaves were not intelligent enough to be free. He published multiple narratives of his life in slavery, which drew attention to the injustice of slavery in the Southern states, and campaigned for civil rights issues in the antebellum era. Douglass continued the fight for equal rights after the Civil War and emancipation, advocating the enfranchisement of African-Americans and women. In 1872, the radical Equal Rights Party nominated him for Vice-President - with feminist activist Victoria Woodhull for President - making him the first African-American nominated for the office. Frederick Douglass died in 1895, aged seventy-seven.

“On Monday, the third day of September, 1838, in accordance with my resolution, I bade farewell to the city of Baltimore, and to that slavery which had been my abhorrence from childhood.”
- from ’Life and Times of Frederick Douglass’, 1881

Black history month day 6: Olaudah Equiano.

Olaudah Equiano, also known as Gustavus Vaasa, was a prominent African in London. He was a freed slave who supported the British movement to end the slave trade. His autobiography, published in 1789, helped in the creation of the Slave Trade Act 1807 which ended the African trade for Britain and its colonies. Equiano was part of the Sons of Africa, an abolitionist group composed of prominent Africans living in Britain, and he was active among leaders of the anti-slave trade in the 1780s.

Equiano’s book, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African”, is one of the earliest-known examples of published writing by an African writer to be widely read in England. By 1792, it was a best seller: it has been published in Russia, Germany, Holland, and the United States. It was the first influential slave narrative of what became a large literary genre. Equiano’s experience in slavery was quite different from that of most slaves as he did not participate in field work. Rather, he served his owners personally and went to sea, was taught to read and write, and worked in trading. Even after his freedom he continued to be an explorer and travel extensively everywhere from the Arctic to the United States.

His Life as a freed slave was stressful, and he suffered from suicidal thoughts until he became a born-again Christian and found peace in his faith. He married in English woman, Susannah Cullen, and together they had two children.

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Nine Ninety-nine Cents African American E-books

Great Speeches by African Americans: Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Obama, and Others by James Daley  [BOOK LINK]

The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois  [BOOK LINK]

Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes  [BOOK LINK]

Unmistakably Black: Sculpture and Paintings From The World’s First Civilisation by Anu M'Bantu  [BOOK LINK]

Twelve Years a Slave: Plus Five American Slave Narratives, Including Life of Frederick Douglass, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Life of Josiah Henson, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Up From Slavery by Solomon Northup  [BOOK LINK]

Narrative of Sojourner by Sojourner Truth  [BOOK LINK]

Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington  [BOOK LINK]

The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson  [BOOK LINK]

When I Was a Slave: Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection edited by Norman R. Yetman  [BOOK LINK]

Getting to know the Archives: Rare Books

What is a rare book?

Recently J. Murrey Atkins Library celebrated the donation of the two millionth volume; a rare copy of the slave narrative, Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (London, 1793, 6th ed.), donated by Dr. Julian Mason and his wife, Elsie. But what makes any book rare? Our favorite cataloger, Joseph Nicholson answers this question in today’s post. 

Establishing a clear demarcation between “rare” books and “ordinary” books is not an easy matter. Age, for instance, is often considered to be a defining attribute of rare books, but not all old books are rare, and some recently published books are in fact quite rare. The autograph of a famous author on a book’s endpapers may seem to make it inarguably rare, particularly if the book also includes the author’s bookplate and marginalia; but an autograph alone is not necessarily an indication of great rarity or value, as thousands of such specimens are now produced at crowded book signing events by authors flogging their latest bestsellers. Though an elaborately decorated binding can seem an indication of great rarity, it may prove on closer examination to be the bibliographic equivalent of cheap knockoff wear, showy garb that adds no value or distinction to what is inside. All that glisters is not gold.

What generally determines a book’s rarity is not some predictable checklist of features but something more ineffable: the supply of the book falls short of the demand for it. In other words, the book is difficult to obtain or replace. There are several characteristics that may place a book in this category. Age is one, certainly, despite the caveat above. Books published before 1501 are without question rare, as are English books printed before 1641, books that were printed in North and South America before 1801, and books printed in the South and west of the Mississippi before 1850. Good physical condition will tend to increase the value and hence the “rareness” of an older book, while missing pages, a damaged spine, and other signs of significant wear and tear will decrease it. Books that have seminal, path-breaking importance in their subject areas, controversial texts that were once suppressed or outlawed, and first editions of notable works of literature or history are generally rarer than books with a more ordinary history and more humdrum content, for the simple reason that books with a distinguished or troubled past tend to be scarcer. Striking physical characteristics like original color plates, fine illustrations, and distinctive bindings also increase a book’s rarity.

Yet no failsafe formula for determining whether a book is “rare”—admittedly a rather arbitrary category—exists. What seems rare to the untrained eye may in fact not be. A miniature artist’s book published by a notable small press a decade ago may be more rare than a handsomely decorated edition of Dickens’ collected works from the late 19th century. A limited, signed book by a famous poet published last year could exceed in rarity an elementary school primer from the 1880s. Making astute judgments about what is rare and what is not requires care, discrimination, patience, and the ability to weigh several complex types of bibliographic evidence.

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Born on this day…

February 11, 1813

Harriet Jacobs: Writer, Abolitionist

Book: 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a slave narrative that was published in 1861 by Harriet Ann Jacobs, using the pen name “Linda Brent.” The book is an in-depth chronological account of Jacobs’s life as a slave, and the decisions and choices she made to gain freedom for herself and her children.

Quote:

“No pen can give an adequate description of the all-pervading corruption produced by slavery.”

Additional Quick Read:

Professor Sheds Light on Harriet Jacobs’ Path to Freedom  

anonymous asked:

Do you know what makes Bonnies pain and loss all the more worse is that it always seems to the fault of the mystic falls gang. Damon and Stefan are the reason her grams died and her mom became a vampire and enzo was killed by Stefan. Elena and Caroline's loss were either the fault of no one or a the current villain. Bonnies pain and suffering is inflicted on her by her so called friends but she's never allowed to ever hold them accountable for any of it and is made forgive them

the word you’re looking for is slavery. Bonnie’s story on TVD is a modern day slave narrative set in a plantation town with plantation power dynamics. i dont usually make transparent analogies of this nature but the show has spent 8 seasons insisting on its own nature so all i’m doing is naming that. 

Celebrating Black History Month! 

Frederick Douglass was born a slave in February 1818. At the age of 18 he escaped slavery and became an abolitionist, social reformer, orator, and writer. His 1845 memoir, Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave, is one of the most influential slave narratives published. This image is from the frontispiece of the first edition, which can be viewed in our 10th floor Reading Room. A high-resolution reproduction of the image is also viewable in the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in their permanent exhibition: Slavery and Freedom.   

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Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, is one of the earliest examples of a slave narrative.  In it, Equiano describes his abduction from Africa, his separation from his sister, his forced voyage through the Middle Passage, and his life as a slave.  After Equiano purchased his own freedom in 1767, he moved to Britain, feeling it unsafe to remain in the British colonies as a freed African; there, he became one of the leaders of the Sons of Africa, an abolitionist group made up of Africans living in London.

The book was very successful and went through eight editions before Equiano passed away in 1797.  Pictured here, we have here the third edition, which was published in 1790 and bears an engraving of Equiano on the frontispiece.

The children unable to work in the field had neither shoes, stockings, jackets nor trousers, given to them; their clothing consisted of two coarse linen shirts per year.
—  Frederick Douglass on slave children, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass