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194 pp., 6 x 9, 169 illus.

Paper
ISBN  978-0-8078-6949-9
Published: September 2011

Slave Songs of the United States

Edited By William Francis Allen, Charles Pickard Ware and Lucy McKim Garrison


First published in 1867, Slave Songs of the United States represents the work of its three editors, all of whom collected and annotated these songs while working in the Sea Islands of South Carolina during the Civil War, and also of other collectors who transcribed songs sung by former slaves in other parts of the country. The transcriptions are preceded by an introduction written by William Francis Allen, the chief editor of the collection, who provides his own explanation of the origin of the songs and the circumstances under which they were sung. One critic has noted that, like the editors' introductions to slave narratives, Allen's introduction seeks to lend to slave expressions the honor of white authority and approval. Gathered during and after the Civil War, the songs, most of which are religious, reflect the time of slavery, and their collectors worried that they were beginning to disappear. Allen declares the editors' purpose to be to preserve, "while it is still possible… these relics of a state of society which has passed away."

A DOCSOUTH BOOK. This collaboration between UNC Press and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library brings selected classic works from the digital library of Documenting the American South back into print. DocSouth Books uses the latest digital technologies to make these works available as downloadable e-books or print-on-demand publications. DocSouth Books are unaltered from the original publication, providing affordable and easily accessible editions to a new generation of scholars, students, and general readers.

About the Author

William Francis Allen, the chief editor and author of the introduction to Slave Songs of the United States, was born in Massachusetts in 1830, studied at Harvard and in Europe, worked for the Freedmen's Aid Commission on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, during the Civil War, and after the war became chair of ancient languages at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Like his cousin William Francis Allen, Charles Pickard Ware took part in wartime educational initiatives in the Sea Islands of South Carolina; more of the transcriptions in the volume are Ware's than any other editor's.

Lucy McKim Garrison grew up among reformers in mid-nineteenth century Philadelphia, worked on the New York Nation with her husband Wendell Garrison, son of William Lloyd Garrison, and initiated the project of collecting and annotating slave songs in the Sea Islands during the Civil War.


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