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Welcome to Merrill-Cazier Library. During the course of this semester, you are expected to write a research paper on a topic related to slavery in the Atlantic world from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, centered around a slave narrative. The Library is the laboratory where you will conduct your research. Hopefully, this guide can serve as your lab manual.
General Document Websites
Many libraries, museums, and educational institutions provide free access to the historical materials included in their collections. The links on this page are only a small selection of what is available.
Electronic Document Readers
The Library has many books that include slave narratives. Below are two examples of electronic books from our holdings. You can also find print books on the second floor of the building. Contact your liaison librarian for help searching the catalog.
I Belong to South Carolina by
Out of the hundreds of published slave narratives, only a handful exist specific to South Carolina, and most of these are not readily available to modern readers. This collection restores to print seven slave narratives documenting the lived realities of slavery as it existed across the Palmetto State's upcountry, midlands, and lowcountry, from plantation culture to urban servitude. First published between the late eighteenth century and the dawn of the twentieth, these richly detailed firsthand accounts present a representative cross section of slave experiences, from religious awakenings and artisan apprenticeships to sexual exploitations and harrowing escapes. In their distinctive individual voices, narrators celebrate and mourn the lives of fellow slaves, contemplate the meaning of freedom, and share insights into the social patterns and cultural controls exercised during a turbulent period in American history. Each narrative is preceded by an introduction to place its content and publication history in historical context. The volume also features an afterword surveying other significant slave narratives and related historical documents on South Carolina. I Belong to South Carolina reinserts a chorus of powerful voices of the dispossessed into South Carolina's public history, reminding us of the cruelties of the past and the need for vigilant guardianship of liberty in the present and future. I Belong to South Carolina is edited and introduced by Susanna Ashton with the assistance of Robyn E. Adams, Maximilien Blanton, Laura V. Bridges, E. Langston Culler, Cooper Leigh Hill, Deanna L. Panetta, and Kelly E. Riddle.
Publication Date: 2010-05-30
From Bondage to Belonging by
First published between 1842 and 1895, the autobiographical narratives gathered in this volume document the experiences of eight former slaves who eventually took up residence in Worcester, Massachusetts. Each narrative tells a gripping individual story, its author clearly visible in the dress of his or her own words. Together they illuminate not only the inhumanity of slavery but also the dreams and dilemmas of emancipation, tracing the personal journeys of seven men and one woman from bondage to freedom. In their well-researched introduction, B. Eugene McCarthy and Thomas L. Doughton situate the Worcester slave narratives within a broader historical framework and analyze their meaning and significance. Drawing on a wide range of sources, they reconstruct the black community of Worcester and compare it with other New England black communities of the time, describing how the town evolved from a society with slaves in the colonial era to a hub for free blacks by the eve of the Civil War. They explain why these writings must be understood as part of a long-established tradition of African American self-representation, and show how the four narratives published before 1865 focus on the experience of slavery, while the four written after the war offer the fresh perspective of living in freedom. Headnotes describe the distinctive literary features of each narrative and provide additional information about the lives of the authors. The editors discuss why these ex-slaves came to Worcester, the circumstances in which each wrote his or her narrative, and the audiences they had in mind. No other collection of slave narratives offers such a diverse range of testimony within a specific historical and literary context, or a more compelling account of the transition from bondage to belonging.
Publication Date: 2008-01-03