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Download Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery, by Heather Andrea Williams Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (24 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Heather Andrea Williams Narrator: Robin Miles Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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After the Civil War, African Americans placed poignant “information wanted” advertisements in newspapers, searching for missing family members. Inspired by the power of these ads, Heather Andrea Williams uses slave narratives, letters, interviews, public records, and diaries to guide listeners back to devastating moments of family separation during slavery when people were sold away from parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Williams explores these heartbreaking stories and the long, usually unsuccessful journeys toward reunification. Examining the interior lives of the enslaved and freed people as they tried to come to terms with great loss, Williams grounds their grief, fear, anger, longing, frustration, and hope in the history of American slavery and the domestic slave trade.

Williams follows those who were separated, chronicles their searches, and documents the rare experience of reunion. She also explores the empathy, sympathy, indifference, and hostility expressed by whites about sundered black families. Williams shows how searches for family members in the post–Civil War era continue to reverberate in African American culture in the ongoing search for family history and connection across generations.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Williams examines the historical fact of family separation and renders its emotional truth. She is the rare scholar who writes history with such tenderness that her words can bring a reader to tears…[The book] has a propulsive narrative flow, and with each successive chapter the suppleness of Williams’ prose grows.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Inspired by ‘information wanted’ advertisements that African Americans placed in newspapers to find loved ones after the Civil War, Williams examines the emotional and psychological effects of separation and reunion on both free and enslaved African Americans…An important addition to African American history collections.” 

    Library Journal

  • “Offers is a close examination of the emotions of slaves and their owners…Allows the enslaved and formerly enslaved to speak for themselves on loss and the physical and emotional tribulations of slavery…Williams’ source materials and her own narrative evoke the longing, fear, grief, and hope that have endured as black families continue to search genealogies to reconnect to family members lost to the cruelty of slavery.”

    Booklist

  • “History, as we are reminded by this book, is told from the perspective of those with power. Robin Miles’ confident oratorical style gives the listener a sense of empowerment regarding the attempts of African-Americans to recover their family histories lost through the institution of slavery. Miles’ tone is crisp, her pace steady, and her style journalistic, all of which suit the theme set out by the author. Though full of facts and minute biographical details, Miles’ evenly paced reading draws the listener into the personal aspects of these stories. She differentiates between the male and female recollections by changes in tone. She also creates successful narrative personas to delineate the journal entries, reported dialogue, and overall narrative text.”

    AudioFile

  • “A stunning narrative. Relying upon an astonishing variety of sources, Williams documents one of the deepest prices paid by those subjected to enslavement—forced separation from their loved ones—and chronicles the long and difficult journeys they undertook to search for loved ones.”

    William Darity, Jr., arts and sciences professor of public policy, African and African American studies, and economics, Duke University

  • “Williams speaks to scholars and to everyone interested in African American roots and family history as she delves into the short-run and long-run impact of family instability and disruption. This is a study of real importance.”

    Michael Tadman, University of Liverpool

  • “Williams has uncovered evidence with emotional heft that will help modern readers understand the toll slavery took upon families and individuals. She examines these losses from the perspectives of enslaved peoples and seeks to answer how they dealt with—and how they felt about—what was done to them.”

    Marie Jenkins Schwartz, University of Rhode Island

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Joyce | 10/12/2013

    " This book is now in my permanent Top 5 for nonfiction. Beautifully written; heartbreaking; a paean to the human spirit; amazingly researched. Answered questions that have always been in the back of my mind, as well as other questions that I never knew to formulate. Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Krystal | 7/17/2013

    " A little dry and repetitive at times but interesting. It is frustrating that there is so little information out there but Williams does a good job of extrapolating themes with limited evidence. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Laura | 4/13/2013

    " Compelling writing and meticulous research on a powerful and deeply moving subject. There are stories from this book that are permanently seared into my mind. If more young people had access to history books like this instead of dry textbooks, fewer of them would think they didn't like the subject. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jeanette Franklin | 12/14/2012

    " More like a textbook then I had expected. I often feel as if I am being "lectured". "

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About the Author

Heather Andrea Williams is associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom.