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"I Can't Wait to Call You My Wife": African American Letters of Love and Family in the Civil War Era (Hardcover)
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This book honors the voices of African Americans of the Civil War era through their letters, inviting readers to engage personally with the Black historical experience.
Amidst bloody battles and political maneuvering, thousands of African Americans spent the Civil War trying to hold their families together. This moving book illuminates that struggle through the letters they exchanged. Despite harsh laws against literacy and brutal practices that broke apart Black families, people found ways to write to each other against all odds. In these pages, readers will meet parents who are losing hope of ever seeing their children again and a husband who walks fifteen miles to visit his wife, enslaved on a different plantation.
The collection also includes tender courtship letters exchanged between Lewis Henry Douglass and Helen Amelia Loguen, both children of noted abolitionists, and letters sent home by the young women who traveled south to teach literacy to escaped slaves. Roberts' expert curation allows readers to see the wider historical context. The transcriptions are accompanied by reproductions of selected original letters and photographs of the letter writers.
FRESH ANGLE ON HISTORY: Roberts reframes the Civil War era by telling the story of American slavery through letters. And by focusing on the strong bonds of love that these letters represent, she offers a deeply human and relatable version of history.
AUTHORITATIVE YET ACCESSIBLE: Throughout the book, Roberts provides expert context while weaving compelling stories about the individual letter writers. Readers can connect with history directly by reading actual words from the time and seeing photographs of both the letters and the writers.
NUANCED PERSPECTIVE: As Americans wake up to the complex legacy of race in this country, Roberts' book challenges a notion of a monolithic Black experience during the Civil War.
BEAUTIFUL BOOK: This handsome hardcover provides an elegant presentation, complete with images throughout. While intense and often tragic, the stories carry inspiration for how to live and love through incredibly difficult times. This will make a truly meaningful addition to any book collection.
- Readers of Black history, Civil War history, and American history
- History students
- Letter writers
- Fans of historical letters
About the Author
Rita Roberts is a writer and historian. She is currently retiring from her Professorship of History and Africana Studies at Scripps College, where she holds the Nathan Wright Stephenson Chair in History and Biography.