S04 E18: Book Club Chat: “The House of Bondage or Charlotte Brooks and Other Slaves”

Our inaugural book club episode was a success. So we will definitely be hosting more of these in the future! In this episode, we discussed the first book covered in our Book Club: The House of Bondage: or, Charlotte Brooks and Other Slaves by Octavia Victoria Rogers Albert (New York, Hunt & Eaton, 1890).

Octavia met Charlotte Brooks for the first time in 1879 and later decided to interview her, as well as other former slaves from Louisiana, for a biographical sketch of slavery’s “House of Bondage.” These sketches were originally published in the Methodist newspaper Southwestern Christian Advocate but were not compiled into book form until 1890, after Octavia Albert’s death.

Rather than provide a comprehensive chronology of the events in Charlotte’s life, Albert focuses on episodes that illustrate hostility from slave masters, as well as the ways in which religion influenced the slaves’ everyday lives. In addition to interviewing Charlotte Brooks, Albert interviews several other former slaves, including John and Lorendo Goodwin, Lizzie Beaufort, Colonel Douglass Wilson, and a woman known merely as Hattie—though Charlotte’s interviews make up the bulk of the text. These anecdotes are woven together to provide a harrowing image of the horrors suffered by slaves, as well as the progress that former slaves are able to make through education.

The book club chat included some of the genealogical issues that were apparent to us in the book in terms of researching enslaved people, social issues, and U.S. politics back then and in 2020.

This book is free to read or download online via: https://archive.org/details/housebondageorc00mallgoog/page/n11/mode/2up

To see the first part of this serialized installment originally published in the Southwestern Christian Advocate (1890, New Orleans, La.), please visit: https://archive.org/details/southwesternchri1890sout/page/n3/mode/2up?q=octavia+V+albert

If you would like to buy the book, it is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/House-Bondage-Octavia-Rogers-Albert/dp/1596052546/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=octavia+V.+albert&qid=1611528442&sr=8-1


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