Academic journal article The Historian

My Father's Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War

Academic journal article The Historian

My Father's Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War

Article excerpt

My Father's Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War. By Lawrence P. Jackson. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2012. Pp. 216. $25.00.)

Lawrence P. Jackson has produced this study as a record of the search for his own ancestors. He was inspired to discover more about his background and history because he was about to have his own son. Jackson takes the reader on a quest through neighborhoods next to the railroad tracks. He searches through musty barns, county records, and archives of southern Virginia. He wades through tax rolls, the United States census, deed records, and newspapers, to name but a few of the primary sources. Although not always able to find records directly related to his ancestors, he does piece together information that adds to the historical knowledge of life in slavery and after emancipation in the United States. One area at which he looks, for example, is the harshness of the domestic slave trade. The relation of slaves and free blacks in the South to the Confederate government is another area where Jackson demonstrates his research skills. He explains the naming of slaves and how freedmen came upon a last name after emancipation. He illustrates that some names were influenced by African heritage and gave the freedmen "pride in themselves and remembrance of their ancestors" (105).

Jackson does, however, make some statements that might be questioned, such as saying that slaves "kept a healthy distance between themselves and Christianity" (66). …

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