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Catalog Archive / Fall 2019

Whispers of Cruel Wrongs
The Correspondence of Louisa Jacobs and Her Circle, 1879-1911
Edited by Mary Maillard

Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography
William L. Andrews, Series Editor

Honorable Mention, Society for the Study of American Women Writers Book Award

“An indispensable contribution to mapping the psychic realities, language patterns, and ideological matrix of late nineteenth-century middle-class African American women.”

Harriet Jacobs’s famous autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, includes her heartbreaking account of parting with her young daughter, Louisa, who had been taken away to the North by her white father. Here, Mary Maillard follows the thread of the Jacobs family lineage by revealing the communications of Louisa Jacobs and her close friends in more than seventy previously unidentified letters. In this annotated correspondence, new voices call out from the lost world of nineteenth-century African American women who persevered despite difficult family obligations and the racial strife that marked the post-Reconstruction era.


Author. Photo credit, Name Mary Maillard is a documentary editor and author of A Map of Time and Blood: An Introduction to the Skinner Family Papers, 1826–1850.




“Maillard deserves our thanks for this impressive volume.”
Journal of Southern History

“The black Americans highlighted in these letters refuse to make matters of racial denigration the primary issue of their everyday conversations, actions, and identities. Instead, the written exchanges show African American women tending to their family and friends not as an escape from injustice but precisely to value the labor and lives that otherwise might be disregarded.”
Journal of Family History

“Through brief biographies, family trees, and extensive endnotes, Maillard takes her reader through the letters. The story they tell is not necessarily the one that readers expect.”
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

“A rich and fascinating portrait of Philadelphia's and Washington D.C.'s black elite after the Civil War. Even as the letters depict the increasingly troubled political status and economic fortunes of the correspondents, they offer rare glimpses into private homes and inner emotions.”
—Carla L. Peterson,author of Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City



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Also in the Series

A Mysterious Life and Calling

Reading African American Autobiography
Twenty-First-Century Contexts and Criticism
Edited by Eric D. Lamore

Words of Witness

A Mysterious Life and Calling
From Slavery to Ministry in South Carolina
Reverend Mrs. Charlotte S. Riley, edited with an introduction by Crystal J. Lucky

Whispers of Cruel Wrongs: Cover showing a line drawing of Louisa Jacobs atop a manilla background, with cropped letters and envelopes lingering on the edges of the page.

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New in Paperback!
February 2020
LC: 2016041576 E
248 pp. 6 x 9
28 b/w illus., 4 charts

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Paper $18.95 A
ISBN 9780299311841
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Cloth $64.95 S
ISBN 9780299311803
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