History Book Group: “Enslaved, Indentured, Free: Five Black Women on the Upper Mississippi, 1800-1850”
Decorah Public Library staff are hosting six book discussions in May. The groups are open to the public and newcomers are encouraged to attend. Anyone interested should call the library at 382-3717 to learn more or to reserve a book. Zoom links are available on the Library’s website or you can email email@example.com to be added to any of the groups’ email distribution lists. Funds for multiple copy sets were generously provided by Friends of Decorah Public Library.
The History Book Group will meet on the 2nd floor of the library on Thurs. May 18 at 3:00 p.m. to discuss Mary Elise Antoine’s “Enslaved, Indentured, Free: Five Black Women on the Upper Mississippi, 1800-1850.” [note: this is a change from the Cox Richardson book we had been planning to do, because that title was backordered.] The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 made slavery illegal in the territory that would later become Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota. However, many Black individuals’ rights were denied by white enslavers who continued to hold them captive in the territory well into the nineteenth century. Set in this period of American history, Enslaved, Indentured, Free shines a light on five extraordinary Black women—Marianne, Mariah, Patsey, Rachel, and Courtney—whose lives intersected in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
Focusing on these five women, Mary Elise Antoine explores the history of slavery in the Upper Mississippi River Valley, relying on legal documents, military records, court transcripts, and personal correspondence. Whether through perseverance, self-purchase, or freedom suits—including one suit that was used as precedent in Dred and Harriet Scott’s freedom suits years later—each of these women ultimately secured her freedom, thanks in part to the bonds they forged with one another.
For more information, contact Tricia Crary (Friday Book Group), Zach Row-Heyveld (Cookbook Book Group) or Kristin Torresdal (Happy Hour, History, and Speculative Fiction Book Groups) at 563-382-3717.
- Event Attendance Mode: Physical Event