Finding Charity's Folk: Enslaved and Free Black Women in Maryland


Product Details

University of Georgia Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 8.9 X 0.6 inches | 0.55 pounds

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About the Author

JESSICA MILLWARD is an associate professor of history at the University of California, Irvine.


Finding Charity's Folk chronicles the remarkable journeys and accomplishments of 'a ghost of slavery' and the painstaking researcher who invoked and 'remembered' Charity Folks, an enslaved Annapolis, Maryland, mulatto, into the present. . . . Yet Millward also warns that our fixation on the much-debated female-headed household 'obscures the role of black men' who supported their children and cared for elderly kin. Thus, Millward weaves the experiences of Folks and her extended family into the literature while encouraging us to rethink how we do history.--Cynthia M. Kennedy "Journal of American History "
Finding Charity's Folk is a slim four-chapter volume of less than seventy-five pages of text. . . Rather than a biography, it is a social history resulting from more than a decade of research involving the examination of over one thousand manuscripts archived in the United States, England, and Africa. . . . Using Saidiya Hartman's concept of 'afterlife of slavery, ' Millward attempts to answer questions about the lives of freed women who remained surrounded and sometimes haunted by slavery. . . . Unlike other studies of slavery and freedom in North America, Finding Charity's Folk links the foremother to her descendants in contemporary America through extensive genealogical research in combination with US census returns, interviews, and memory.--Wilma King "Early American Literature "
The sense of place is strongly conveyed in Finding Charity's Folk. . . . There is a strong emphasis on the gendered reality of slavery and freedom throughout the book. . . . These connections impart an intimacy between the past and present that is often lacking in historical monographs. . . . Millward argues that freedom, rather than being exclusively an individual act, was communal.--Nicole Ribianszky "Journal of Southern History "
Digging deeply into the county court records of Maryland, the author presents a remarkable picture of how some enslaved women, including Charity Folks, acquired their freedom. In doing so, she broadens our perspective on female slaves, African American family relationships, and free blacks. Thoroughly versed in a broad literature, she authoritatively discusses a wide range of related topics, including interracial sex, violence, rape, and the relationship between enslaved women's bodies, freedom suits, and manumission laws.--Loren Schweninger "Elizabeth Rosenthal Professor Emeritus of History, University of North Carolina, Greensboro "
Finding Charity's Folk is bold and daring in both chronology and content. With incredible new sources, Jessica Millward recovers the lives of African American women in rural Maryland, courageously tackling the complexities of emancipation in early America. Finding Charity's Folk makes an essential contribution to African American women's history and to the narrative of American freedom.--Erica Armstrong Dunbar "University of Delaware "