Slave Songs of the United States

Edited by William Francis Allen, Charles Pickard Ware, Lucy McKim Garrison

224 pp., 6 x 9, 169 illus

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-6949-9
    Published: September 2011
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6950-5
    Published: September 2011
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4315-9
    Published: September 2011

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A DocSouth Book, Distributed for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

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 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 in paperback and e-book formats. Each book contains a short summary and is otherwise unaltered from the original publication. DocSouth Books provide affordable and easily accessible editions to a new generation of scholars, students, and general readers.

About the Authors

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.
For more information about William Francis Allen, visit the Author Page.

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.
For more information about Charles Pickard Ware, visit the Author Page.

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.
For more information about Lucy McKim Garrison, visit the Author Page.