“I Can’t Wait to Call You My Wife”: African American Letters of Love and Family in the Civil War Era

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Wednesday April 26

6:00 PM  –  7:00 PM

Amidst bloody battles and political maneuvering, thousands of African Americans spent the Civil War trying to hold their families together. This moving book illuminates that struggle through the letters they exchanged. Despite harsh laws against literacy and brutal practices that broke apart Black families, people found ways to write to each other against all odds. In these pages, readers will meet parents who are losing hope of ever seeing their children again and a husband who walks fifteen miles to visit his wife, enslaved on a different plantation. The collection also includes tender courtship letters exchanged between Lewis Henry Douglass and Helen Amelia Loguen, both children of noted abolitionists, and letters by the young women who traveled south to teach literacy to escaped slaves. Roberts reframes the Civil War era by telling the story of American slavery through letters and by focusing on the strong bonds of love that these letters represent.