The African-American Family in Slavery and Emancipation (Studies in Modern Capitalism)

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ISBN-13: 978-0521012164
ISBN-10: 0521012163
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Editorial Reviews


"Dunway's attempt to present a comprehensive view of slavery (and freedom) in Appalachia is to be lauded ... Dunway's book breaks new ground." - Appalachian Journal

"Dunaway's volumes raise important questions and give provocative answers about the experience of slavery in nineteenth-century America. In particular, the findings of The African American Family will contribute to the ongoing debate about the nature of slavery on small plantations and farms." - Journal of Interdisciplanary History, Jane Turner Censer

"...impressive..." - Appalachian Heritage

"This book is a valuable contribution to the historiography of antebellum slavery and our understanding of the challenges that African American families faced before, during, and after emancipation.... It is well-researched, engaging, persuasive, and extremely thorough. Dunaway handles her sources, and the subject, with expertise and great sensitivity. She is to be praised for an outstanding and important piece of work." - America Studien/American Studies

Book Description

Wilma Dunaway contends that studies of the U.S. Slave family have been flawed by neglect of small plantations and export zones and exaggeration of slave agency. Using data on population trends and Slave narratives, she identifies several profit-maximizing strategies that owners implemented to disrupt and endanger African-American families, including forced labor migrations, structural interference in marriages and childcare, sexual exploitation of women, shortfalls in provision of basic survival needs, and ecological risks. This book is unique in its examination of new threats to family persistence that emerged during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Modern Capitalism
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (April 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521012163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521012164
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl A. Kuntz on November 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Dunaway does a remarkable job of detailing the lives of Appalachian slaves. Full of facts and statistics this book is invaluable to the history student and captivating to the history buff. The author sheds light on the day to day lives of slaves, including marriage practices, truancy, chores and general resistance. Subtle resistance and coping strategies of slaves are included within each chapter. The reader should appreciate the information related specifically to women (and not merely the sexual exploitation aspect)since available information often refers to men or slaves in general. Dunaway's well organized information flows smoothly throught the book making it a good reference source while holding the readers interest as if a novel. As a college student I found this book to be very useful in writing history papers. As a historian it has become one of my favorite books.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tony Thomas on January 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you were a slave woman of past 12 in the Appalachians you had the shortest life expectancy of anyone in the United States. The malnutrition, overwork during and after pregnancy, the intensive breeding to sell your children, and the constant sexual terrorism by white masters, not to speak of the violence regularly rained down on slaves, the unsanitary living and food conditions, and the exposure to noxious industrial, mining, and agricultural biproducts you were subjected to would kill you quicker than any other category in the whole country!

Slavery in Appalachia was worse than slavery anywhere else in the United States, especially for women and children. Dunaway who has build an exhaustive database of information on the economic, social, and political history of Appalachia under slavery, shines her light not only on the family, but the general conditions that African Americans in the Mountain areas faced under slavery and during the years following emancipation. She shatters the myth that slavery was kinder, more gentler in these areas than it was on the big plantations of the cotton, rice, and sugar cane South.

Appalachia had higher concentrations of industrial slavery where slaves were owned or rented out to mines, mills, saltworks, railroads, canals, and other businesses that worked them almost to death, surrounded them with dangerous industrial pollutants and kept them in worse conditions than their mules and horses. Smaller Appalachian rural slave holders often had a lower margin and less resources than Southern plantations to house and feed their slaves, and often used more severe violence and torture to keep their slaves slaves.
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