My Work among the Freedmen: The Civil War and Reconstruction Letters of Harriet M. Buss
By Harriet M. Buss, edited by Jonathan W. White and Lydia J. Davis
JMC fellow Jonathan W. White and Lydia J. Davis have co-edited a collection of correspondence from Harriet M. Buss, who taught former slaves in coastal South Carolina, Norfolk, Virginia, and Raleigh, North Carolina during Reconstruction:
Between 1863 and 1871, Harriet M. Buss of Sterling, Massachusetts, taught former slaves in three different regions of the South, in coastal South Carolina, Norfolk, Virginia, and Raleigh, North Carolina. A white, educated Baptist woman, she initially saw herself as on a mission to the freedpeople of the Confederacy but over time developed a shared mission with her students and devoted herself to training the next generation of Black teachers.
The geographical and chronological reach of her letters is uncommon for a woman in the Civil War era. In each place she worked, she taught in a different type of school and engaged with different types of students, so the subjects she explored in her letters illuminate a remarkably broad history of race and religion in America. Her experiences also offer an inside perspective of the founding of Shaw University, an important historically Black university. Now available to specialists and general readers alike for the first time, her correspondence offers an extensive view of the Civil War and Reconstruction era rarely captured in a single collection.
Jonathan W. White is an Associate Professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University. He is the author or editor of ten books and more than one hundred articles, essays and reviews about the Civil War. Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln was named a best book of 2014 by Civil War Monitor, was a finalist for both the Gilder-Lehrman Lincoln Prize and the Jefferson Davis Prize, and won the Abraham Lincoln Institute’s 2015 book prize. Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War was named a best book of 2017 by Civil War Monitor. Additionally, Professor White serves on several historical organization boards and was chosen as the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Award of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the highest award given to faculty in the Commonwealth.
Professor White is a JMC fellow.
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