(BIOGRAPHY AND DATES UNKNOWN)
Biographical information about Kate Barclay has not surfaced. However, evidence reveals that before publishing children’s abolitionist literature, Barclay authored The Odd Fellow’s Token: Devoted to Friendship, Love and Truth (1846), The Temperance Token, or, Crystal Drops from the Old Oaken Bucket (1846), and “The Lost Child” (1856), which reflect her humanitarian interests. She published these works in Geneva and Auburn, New York, which may suggest that she resided in upstate New York. In 1854, however, Barclay apparently transcended geographical boundaries when she sent Minnie May: With Other Rhymes and Stories—her antislavery juvenile collection of illustrations, poems, and short stories—to John P. Jewett in Boston, perhaps because she knew of his success with Uncle Tom’s Cabin and his antislavery collection for children. Minnie May’s reprinting in 1856 suggests the marketability and acceptability of Barclay’s abolitionist sentiments for children.
A significant portion of Minnie May presents first- and third-person slave narratives that capture the slave’s experience for the young, white reader. Of the ten titles in the collection, four focus exclusively on slaves’ experiences. In “Little Nell,” the narrator encourages Nell, a slave child, to stay close to her mother, since this bond was so frequently violated. Slavery’s threat to family bonds reappears in “Sambo’s Toast,” which contrasts the bountiful but very materialistic nature of a “white Christmas” (with its focus on tangible gifts received) to the slave family that celebrates, with quiet fear, their gift: that the master has not sold their family members to separate plantations. While “Little Nell” and “Sambo’s Toast” give third-person accounts of slave experiences, “Crispy’s Story” most resembles the first-person narrator typical in “authentic” slave narratives. Two white children, Eddie and Tommy, listen to Crispy tell of