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They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South

Yale Univ. Feb. 2019. 320p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300218664. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780300245103. SOC SCI
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Jones-Rogers (history, Univ. of California, Berkeley) expands her award-winning dissertation to correct the historical record on white women's culpability in the perpetuation of the slave system. Using primary resources including newspapers and archives as well as many secondary sources, Jones-Rogers meticulously portrays how these women strived to maintain and control what they saw as their economic stability. Many white women were gifted or purchased slaves in their own right and as separate from their husbands, and there were complex laws available for women to use as a means to protect their investments. Jones-Rogers uses court cases and newspaper advertisements to show that Southern American women were not just victims of the patriarchy but that they were integral in making the slavery system work. The author uses strong evidence to convince readers to revisit what they think they know about white women and black slavery. Other works that can provide further context include Catherine M. Lewis and J. Richard Lewis's Women and Slavery in America and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese's Within the Plantation Household.
VERDICT Strongly recommended for readers interested in this period of U.S. history, or who wish to expand their understanding to include a more honest view of the Southern slave system.
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