A Woman and a Sister Too? The Intertwining of Emancipation and Early Feminism


Harriet A. Jacobs (1813-1897) Incidents in the life of a slave girl (Boston, 1861)

Revolutionary in its frank depictions of how sexual violence was so embedded in slavery, Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) presents an insightful and horrific perspective showing how slavery particularly harmed women. Both Jacobs and her editor, the Boston abolitionist Lydia Maria Child, make few apologies for the explicit descriptions of sexual violence. Instead, they argue that such descriptions ought to arouse "women at the North to a sense of their duty in the exertion of moral influence on the question of Slavery." This copy belonged to Charles Sumner, who emphasized in his congressional speeches that slavery encouraged masters to engage in sexual "barbarism."

*AC85.J1527.861i – Gift of Edward L. Pierce, 1874.