December Book of the Month | They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South by Dr. Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

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

Ackerman’s Community Book Club selection for December is They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South by Dr. Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers.

They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South by Dr. Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, was written to offer a more expansive and differently gendered understanding of American slavery. They Were Her Property was a regional study of the trans-regional domestic slave trade and nineteenth-century slave markets based on formerly enslaved people’s testimony. It helps us reshape understandings of white women’s economic relationship to slavery and highlights their role in this system from a perspective that is outside of the traditional passive and submissive woman’s role that is often portrayed in post-Civil-War literature. The book was based on Dr. Jones-Rogers revised dissertation and brings the testimony of enslaved and formerly enslaved people to the forefront, putting their reflections into conversation with other narrative sources, legal documents, and financial records in order to show how white women’s investments in American slavery shaped their gender identities and how they profited from America’s most significant and devastating system of economic exchange. Dr. Jones- Rogers has won numerous awards for They Were Her Property including being the first African American and third woman to win the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History. She is currently an Associate Professor and the Chancellor’s Professor of History in the Department of History at the University of California, Berkeley, where she specializes in African-American history, the history of American slavery, and women’s and gender history. She is currently working on two additional books Women of the Trade and Women, American Slavery, and the Law. The former reorients our understanding of the British Atlantic slave trade by centering the lives and experiences of women, free and captive, in its telling. Women, American Slavery, and the Law will be the first book-length manuscript to examine the relationship between gender and the evolution of American slave/property law in both the North and the South from the colonial period to slavery’s legal end. This book was selected to help us continue to expand our knowledge of American slavery from a differently gendered perspective as well as take a more critical look at the ways in which it continues to impact systemic racism, racial trauma, and feminism in America. It also gives us an opportunity to continue to learn the ways in which slavery is often misremembered and the roles of white woman in particular are watered down. As we continue to work to actively create anti-racist spaces as clinicians and educators, this book invites us to examine how we teach, train, and work with descendants of families impacted by generational trauma from American slavery and all its inner workings every day. 

Book club selection by Barbara Neal, M.Ed., LMFT.

About Ackerman’s Faculty Social Justice Book Club:

Ackerman’s 2023-2024 Faculty Social Justice Book Club offers a new book, article, video or podcast every other month for reflection and learning. We invite the entire Ackerman Community to join us as we explore diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging along with the impact of larger societal forces on individuals, couples, families and communities. We aim to inspire curiosity and increase knowledge, understanding and compassion toward acceptance of difference.

We hope you will enjoy these selections individually or with colleagues and friends. We especially hope they will lead to honest conversations and connection.

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