Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston
For black women in antebellum Charleston, freedom was not a static legal category but a fragile and contingent experience. A deeply researched social history, Forging Freedom reveals the ways in which black women in Charleston acquired, defined, and defended their own vision of freedom.
Drawing on legislative and judicial materials, probate data, tax lists, church records, family papers, and more, Myers creates detailed portraits of individual women while exploring how black female Charlestonians sought to create a fuller freedom by improving their financial, social, and legal standing. Examining both those who were officially manumitted and those who lived as free persons but lacked official documentation, Myers reveals that free black women filed lawsuits and petitions, acquired property (including slaves), entered into contracts, paid taxes, earned wages, attended schools, and formed familial alliance