An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

By Rachel May
Read by Carrington MacDuffie

12.66 Hours 05/01/2018 unabridged
Format: CD (In Stock)
  • ISBN: 9781538548288

  • ISBN: 9781538548271

  • ISBN: 9781538548295

When we think of slavery, most of us think of the American South. We think of back-breaking fieldwork on plantations. We don’t think of slavery in the North, nor do we think of the grueling labor of urban and domestic slaves. Rachel May’s rich new book explores the far reach of slavery, from New England to the Caribbean, the role it played in the growth of mercantile America, and the bonds between the agrarian south and the industrial north in the antebellum era―all through the discovery of a remarkable quilt. While studying objects in a textile collection, May opened a veritable treasure trove: a carefully folded, unfinished quilt made of 1830s-era fabrics, its backing containing fragile, aged papers with the dates 1798, 1808, and 1813, the words “shuger,” “rum,” “casks,” and “West Indies,” repeated over and over, along with “friendship,” “kindness,” “government,” and “incident.” The quilt top sent her on a journey to piece together the story of Minerva, Eliza, Jane, and Juba―the enslaved women behind the quilt―and their owner, Susan Crouch. May brilliantly stitches together the often-silenced legacy of slavery by revealing the lives of these urban enslaved women and their world. Beautifully written and richly imagined, An American Quilt is a luminous historical examination and an appreciation of a craft that provides such a tactile connection to the past.

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Summary

Summary

An Audible Pick of Most Anticipated Listens of Spring

When we think of slavery, most of us think of the American South. We think of back-breaking fieldwork on plantations. We don’t think of slavery in the North, nor do we think of the grueling labor of urban and domestic slaves. Rachel May’s rich new book explores the far reach of slavery, from New England to the Caribbean, the role it played in the growth of mercantile America, and the bonds between the agrarian south and the industrial north in the antebellum era―all through the discovery of a remarkable quilt.

While studying objects in a textile collection, May opened a veritable treasure trove: a carefully folded, unfinished quilt made of 1830s-era fabrics, its backing containing fragile, aged papers with the dates 1798, 1808, and 1813, the words “shuger,” “rum,” “casks,” and “West Indies,” repeated over and over, along with “friendship,” “kindness,” “government,” and “incident.” The quilt top sent her on a journey to piece together the story of Minerva, Eliza, Jane, and Juba―the enslaved women behind the quilt―and their owner, Susan Crouch.

May brilliantly stitches together the often-silenced legacy of slavery by revealing the lives of these urban enslaved women and their world. Beautifully written and richly imagined, An American Quilt is a luminous historical examination and an appreciation of a craft that provides such a tactile connection to the past.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Carrington MacDuffie narrates this work of creative nonfiction…A worthwhile listen, unspooling real and imagined lives from an unfinished quilt.” AudioFile
“In this far-reaching history, the discovery of an unfinished antebellum quilt becomes an investigation of the fragile scraps of documents used to make its backing…May acknowledges the naïveté of her early research—‘I was surprised and suddenly disgusted by the quilt that I’d fallen in love with,’ she writes—but the book evolves into a meticulous and insightful account of slavery’s role in early mercantile America.” New Yorker
“[A] rich book. An American Quilt drives home how little we actually know about slavery―and how much history we can still uncover.” Bitch magazine
“Deeply researched and vividly written, May’s creative achievement casts new light on the often ignored contributions enslaved people made to American society.” Booklist (starred review)
“May draws both history lessons and intimate secrets from her analysis of letters and domestic objects in the antebellum world. Her commitment to recovering the experiences of the enslaved people at the story’s heart is admirable.” Publishers Weekly

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Rachel May

Rachel May is the author of An American Quilt and Quilting with a Modern Slant, which was a Library Journal and Amazon.com “Best Book of the Year.” Her writing has received multiple awards, and she has been the recipient of residencies at the Millay Colony and the Vermont Studio Center. She is an assistant professor at Northern Michigan University.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : CD, Library CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/History
Runtime: 12.66
Audience: Adult
Language: English