Synopses & Reviews
Runaway slave Sojourner Truth gained fame in the nineteenth century as an abolitionist, feminist, and orator and earned a living partly by selling photographic carte de visite portraits of herself at lectures and by mail. Cartes de visite, similar in format to calling cards, were relatively inexpensive collectibles that quickly became a new mode of mass communication. Despite being illiterate, Truth copyrighted her photographs in her name and added the caption andldquo;I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance. Sojourner Truth.andrdquo;
Featuring the largest collection of Truthandrsquo;s photographs ever published,and#160;Enduring Truthsand#160;is the first book to explore how she used her image, the press, the postal service, and copyright laws to support her activism and herself. Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby establishes a range of important contexts for Truthandrsquo;s portraits, including the strategic role of photography and copyright for an illiterate former slave; the shared politics of Truthandrsquo;s cartes de visite and federal banknotes, which were both created to fund the Union cause; and the ways that photochemical limitations complicated the portrayal of different skin tones. Insightful and powerful,and#160;Enduring Truthsand#160;shows how Truth made her photographic portrait worth money in order to end slaveryandmdash;and also became the strategic author of her public self.
A symbol of the strength of African-American women, and a champion of the rights of all women, Sojourner Truth was an illiterate former slave in New York State who transformed herself into a vastly powerful orator. Dictating to a neighbor, she began her celebrated life story, in which she chronicles her youth, her 1827 emancipation, and her religious experiences, one year after the extremely successful publication in 1846 of Frederick Douglass's narrative.
Truth's magnetism as an abolitionist speaker brought her fame in her own time, and her narrative gives today's readers a vivid picture of nineteenth-century life in the north, where blacks, enslaved or free, lived in relative isolation from one another.
Based on the 1884 edition of the Narrative, this volume contains "Book of Life", a contemporary collection of letters and biographical sketches about Truth's public appearances, including the controversial "Arn't I a Woman" speech and Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1863 essay, "Sojourner Truth, The Libyan Sibyl" as well as "A Memorial Chapter" about her death.
Truth's landmark slave narrative chronicles her experiences as a slave in upstate New York and her transformation into an extraordinary abolitionist, feminist, orator, and preacher. Based on the complete 1884 edition, this volume includes the "Book of Life," a collection of letters and sketches about Truth's life written subsequent to the original 1850 publication of the Narrative, and "A Memorial Chapter," a sentimental account of her death.
About the Author
, born Isabella, a slave in Ulster County, New York, around 1797, became an abolitionist, orator, and preacher, and eventually an icon for strong black women. She was emancipated by state law in 1827, and the following year she moved to New York City, where she found work in wealthy households and became increasingly involved in unorthodox religious groups. In the early 1830s she joined the commune or “Kingdom” of the Prophet Matthias. By 1843 she had transformed herself into the itinerant preacher Sojourner Truth, and spent most of the next thirteen years in Northampton, Massachusetts. Illiterate, she dictated her autobiography to her neighbor Olive Gilbert, and the Narrative of Sojourner Truth
was published in 1850. The following year Truth set out to promote her book and to speak out on abolition and women’s rights. In the 1870s Truth’s friend and informal manager Frances Titus compiled a new edition of the Narrative
, adding the “Book of Life,” a scrapbook comprising essays, articles, and letters from Truth’s contemporary admirers. Truth died in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1883, and the following year Titus published a new edition that included “A Memorial Chapter.”
Nell Irvin Painter is the author of Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol and Standing at Armageddon, the United States, 1877-1919, The Narrative of Hosea Hudson and Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction. She is Edwards Professor of History at Princeton University, where she currently heads the program in African-American Studies.
Table of Contents
Part I Early Cartes de Visite1 Truth in Indiana (1861)
2 Truth as Libyan Sibyl
3 Truth in Michigan (1863)
Part II Shadows and Substance
4 Truthandrsquo;s Captioned Cartes de Visite (after 1864)
5 Shadows and Chemistry
Part III Texts and Circulating Paper
6 Truthandrsquo;s Illiteracy
7 Truthandrsquo;s Copyright
8 Money and the Civil War
Part IV Collecting and the Late Photographs
9 Album Politics
10 Truthandrsquo;s Last Portraits (1881andndash;82)