Creative Inquiry

Project Spotlights

I Belong to South Carolina

Professor Susanna Ashton's 2007-2008 Creative Inquiry project team sought to collect and publish slave narratives of South Carolina. Now their hard work is being rewarded. I Belong to South Carolina: South Carolina Slave Narratives is being published by the University of South Carolina Press.

Ashton edited the book and provides the introduction. Her team of researchers included undergraduate students Robyn E. Adams, Maximilien Blanton, Laura V. Bridges, E. Langston Culler, Deanna L. Panetta and Kelly E. Riddle and graduate student Cooper Leigh Hill.

I Belong to South Carolina restores to print seven slave narratives documenting the lived realities of slavery as it existed across the Palmetto State's Upcountry, Midlands and Lowcountry, from plantation culture to urban servitude.

First published between the late eighteenth century and the dawn of the twentieth, these richly detailed firsthand accounts present a representative cross section of slave experiences, from religious awakenings and artisan apprenticeships to sexual exploitations and harrowing escapes.

In their distinctive individual voices, narrators celebrate and mourn the lives of fellow slaves, contemplate the meaning of freedom, and share insights into the social patterns and cultural controls exercised during a turbulent period in American history.

Each narrative is preceded by an introduction to place its content and publication history in historical context. The volume also features an afterword surveying other significant slave narratives and related historical documents on South Carolina. I Belong to South Carolina reinserts a chorus of powerful voices of the dispossessed into South Carolina's public history, reminding us of the cruelties of the past and the need for vigilant guardianship of liberty in the present and future.

By: Anne Jenkins (Decipher Issue 1, Fall 2012)