When: Thursday, Feb. 16, 4:00 PM
Where: Rare Book Room, Perkins Library (Map)
What was it like for a mother to flee slavery, leaving her children behind? Sydney Nathans, professor emeritus of history and author of To Free a Family: The Journey of Mary Walker (forthcoming, Harvard University Press), tells the remarkable story of Mary Walker, a slave who fled North Carolina in 1848 for refuge in the north and spent the next seventeen years trying to recover her family.
The story is anchored in the letters and diaries of Walker's former North Carolina slaveholders and of the northern family who protected and employed her. Mary Walker ventured half a dozen attempts at liberating her children, from ransom to ruse to rescue, until the end of the Civil War finally reunited them.
Unlike her more famous counterparts—Harriet Tubman, Harriet Jacobs, and Sojourner Truth—who wrote their own narratives and became public heroines, Mary Walker's efforts were protracted, wrenching, and private. In recreating her journey, Nathans gives voice to a hidden epic of emancipation and an untold story of the Civil War era.
Reception to follow. Copies of the book will be available for sale. This event is free and open to the public.
Sponsored by Duke University Libraries, the Department of History, Department of African and African American Studies, and Graduate Liberal Studies.
About the Author
Sydney Nathans is professor emeritus of history at Duke University.
Check out our new exhibit in the Perkins Gallery
"I Recall the Experience Sweet and Sad": Memories of the Civil War
On display January 6-March 30
Save the date for our upcoming symposium: Another March Madness: The American Civil War at 150
March 16, 2012
Gothic Reading Room, Perkins Library
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