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Ex-Slave Stories

Imagine being 8 again. Now imagine being 8 and your parents took you to the biggest candy store in the world and said, “I want you to tell me about the candy – how it tastes like, what it looks like, and how it’s made”. That’s sort of how I feel like, small and insignificant in the presence of so much of in our case, research. There are just so many things and places I can look into but like that 8 year old version of ourselves, we grab so much that in the end we don’t know what to do with it. So here’s a little sample of what I’ve been trying to get a handle on.


Below is  a picture of James “Jim” Kelly, a slave from Georgetown, Texas. There is a link to the page I found it on his picture in case you wanted to read in full, but there’s an interesting observation to this. A page that is supposed to be dedicated to explaining who he is has a brief paragraph explaining basic details of his life – then the rest is devoted to his owners. I thought this was an excellent example of my subquestion in our prospectus: Will there be, and if so how will  the built-in distortion of the white perspective affect African American historical narratives? I think that white bias led to a focus on the record keeping of white history resulting in this inability to find information on the African American perspective. This will be a huge impact on the influence of white perspective on the slave/freedman experience in Georgetown.


  1. February 15, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Rock on, Susana! What an interesting find — where did you come across the photo and information on Mr. Kelly? What type of information did the resource offer on him versus that offered on part of the white slaveholders?

    Great work!

    • carinaevans
      February 15, 2011 at 11:45 am

      Katie, I found more on Kelly by following the photo host here: http://www.blackpast.org/?q=aaw/kelly-james-c-1839-1912

      Really cool link. The entry on Kelly lists a source that might be worth following up on– James Smallwood, “James Kelly: The Ebony Gun”; Sara R. Massey, Black Cowboys of Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2000).

      I’m going to check whether I can get access to this book for our class.

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