Essays on Slave Communities
From Sunrise to Sunset: Beneath the Underground Interns' Essays on Slave Life in Maryland
Part of the internship program at the Maryland State Archives was structured towards original research on how ex-slaves depicted their lives in Maryland before they became free. The following series of essays are the result of the interns' study.
- Childhood in Slavery
- Interratial Connections
- Slave Community
- Slaves and Religion
- Work and Leisure
- Masculinity and Feminity
- Slavery, Resistance and Flight
To understand how the underground railroad functioned in antebellum Maryland, a slave state, it is important to examine the daily surroundings, communities, and activities of the slave population. This study aims at providing a context necessary to understand why and how slaves were able to make the decision to escape from bondage. These essays draw upon dozens of narratives, either written or dictated by ex-slaves, which provide a composite picture of slave life. The narratives were published between 1837 and 1893, and the slaves giving the narratives were born as early as 1766 and as late as the 1850s. The essays are the work of interns involved in the Fall of 2003 in the Maryland State Archives' Beneath the Underground: The Flight to Freedom" project. They have prepared a formal examination of Maryland native slaves as well as slaves that were sold from other states and ended up in Maryland. Each essay explores one area of antebellum Maryland slave life. As a whole, they form a context for how slaves operated beneath the traditional structure of the underground railroad in order to free themselves, or aid other slaves to escape.
Compare how antebellum Maryland life is described in the slave narratives with the picture of antebellum Maryland depicted in the woodcuts from John Gruber's Hagerstown Town and Country Almanac.