Discover the books that bring the history of the Lowcountry Southeast to life, written by key researchers and excerpted here by special permission. We hope the works featured here contribute to your understanding of Lowcountry history and provide new insights for your research! 

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African Americans of Washington County, Georgia: From Colonial Times through Reconstruction

By Adam Adolphus, Sr.

African Americans of Washington County, Georgia: From Colonial Time through Reconstruction is a comprehensive compilation of data about African Americans from 1781 through 1885 – 694 pages with illustrations and 40,000 individual name entries Indexed and Sourced. MORE

Behind God’s Back: Gullah Memories

By Herb Frazier

This story of a place once isolated and described by the locals as “Behind God’s Back” begins with the voices of two men: One who grew up in the Jack Primus community and stayed to raise his family, farm and chauffeur Guggenheim; the other who, as a boy, boarded the ferry at Daniel Island and moved to Charleston where he worked hard for the rest of his long life and became a world-class blacksmith. MORE

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150 Years Later by Mel Collier

150 Years Later: Broken Ties Mended

By Melvin Collier

I was only four years old when Roots aired on national television in January 1977. Surprisingly, I recalled my family being glued to the television as if they were watching something they had never seen. In reality, it was. Despite my youth, I still ascertained that Roots was something phenomenal, something that would have long-lasting effects, not only for my family but for many African-American families. MORE

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The African American Oddysey of John Kizell

By Kevin G. Lowther

In The African American Odyssey of John Kizell, historian Kevin Lowther tells the true story of a resilient Sierra Leonean who survived slavery in 1770s Charleston and later returned to his homeland to fight the slave trade at its source. John Kizell — his owner in Charleston was Esther Kysell, a Swiss-German widow and tavern keeper — became literate and left behind vivid observations on the impact of the slave trade on his people’s society and culture. MORE

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DNA to Africa

By Aaron Day

If there is a hero to this story I would say that it would have to be my great-great grandfather, Scott Day. Without the documents and records found for him, it would have been almost impossible to trace the Day family back to 1692, and beyond. It was as if I was guided by him back through seven decades of American History, as I learned about his life and times. Scott was almost sixty five years old when the Civil War ended in 1865. Unlike many Blacks of the time, Scott had been a free-man all of his life. MORE

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Essential Lowcountry Reading

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Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Culture in the Americas

by Judith A. Carney

Few Americans identify slavery with the cultivation of rice, yet rice was a major plantation crop during the first three centuries of settlement in the Americas. Rice accompanied African slaves across the Middle Passage throughout the New World to Brazil, the Caribbean, and the southern United States. By the middle of the eighteenth century, rice plantations in South Carolina and the black slaves who worked them had created one of the most profitable economies in the world. MORE

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A Hard Fight for We: Women’s Transition from Slavery to Freedom in South Carolina

By Leslie A. Schwalm

The courage and vigor with which African-American women fought for their freedom during and after the Civil War are firmly at the center of this groundbreaking study. Focusing on slave women on the rice plantations of lowcountry South Carolina, Leslie Schwalm offers a thoroughly researched account of their vital roles in antebellum plantation life and in the wartime collapse of slavery, and their efforts as freedwomen to recover from the impact of war while redefining life and labor in the postbellum period. MORE

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University of North Carolina Press

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Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery

By Heather Andrea Williams

After the Civil War, African Americans placed poignant “information wanted” advertisements in newspapers, searching for missing family members. Inspired by the power of these ads, Heather Andrea Williams uses slave narratives, letters, interviews, public records, and diaries to guide readers back to devastating moments of family separation during slavery when people were sold away from parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Williams explores the heartbreaking stories of separation and the long, usually unsuccessful journeys toward reunification. Examining the interior lives of the enslaved and freedpeople as they tried to come to terms with great loss, Williams grounds their grief, fear, anger, longing, frustration, and hope in the history of American slavery and the domestic slave trade. MORE

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Working Cures: Healing, Health and Power on Southern Slave Plantations

by Sharla M. Fett

Exploring the charged topic of black health under slavery, Sharla Fett reveals how herbalism, conjuring, midwifery, and other African American healing practices became arts of resistance in the antebellum South. Fett shows how enslaved men and women drew on African precedents to develop a view of health and healing that was distinctly at odds with slaveholders’ property concerns. MORE

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University of Georgia Press

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Women’s Work, Men’s Work: The Informal Slave Economies of Lowcountry Georgia

By Betty Wood

In Women’s Work, Men’s Work, Betty Wood examines the struggle of bondpeople to secure and retain for themselves recognized rights as producers and consumers in the context of the brutal, formal slave economy sanctified by law. Wood examines this struggle in the Georgia lowcountry over a period of eighty years, from the 1750s to the 1830s, when, she argues, the evolution of the system of informal slave economies had reached the point that it would henceforth dominate Savannah’s political agenda until the Civil War and emancipation. MORE

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Under the Guardianship of the Nation: The Freedmen’s Bureau and the Reconstruction of Georgia

by Paul A. Cimbala

The Freedmen’s Bureau was an extraordinary agency established by Congress in 1865, born of the expansion of federal power during the Civil War and the Union’s desire to protect and provide for the South’s emancipated slaves. Charged with the mandate to change the southern racial “status quo” in education, civil rights, and labor, the Bureau was in a position to play a crucial role in the implementation of Reconstruction policy. MORE

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