Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Dr. Lee Chambers


Within the history of slavery in the United States, a new black feminist historiography has emerged that seeks to give more space to how the lives of black women fit into this history. This thesis contributes to this historiography by reading the diaries and memoirs of seven black women who were alive during the early to mid 1800s. These women, named Emilie Davis, Charlotte Forten Grimké, Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Keckley, Susie King Taylor, Sojourner Truth, and Bethany Veney, lived varied lives across the country. The thesis is divided into six chapters that explores various themes and commonalities between their lives, while simultaneously exploring what made each of their lives unique. Ultimately, this thesis proves that the lives of black women alive during this time period were much more nuanced than traditional historiographies give them credit for, and that there is much one can learn about their experiences through close readings of the diaries and memoirs that they left behind.