Enslaved Women in America

An Encyclopedia

by Daina Ramey Berry, Editor in Chief, with Deleso A. Alford, Senior Editor


One of the most harrowing periods in American history was undoubtedly the era of slavery and its devastating impact on people of African descent. Enslaved women, in particular, had challenging circumstances based on their gender, yet they persevered with strength and grace through extraordinarily difficult life experiences.

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Cover image for Enslaved Women in America

June 2012


Pages 381
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Race and Ethnicity/African American Studies
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This singular reference provides an authoritative account of the daily lives of enslaved women in the United States, from colonial times to emancipation following the Civil War. Through essays, photos, and primary source documents, the female experience is explored, and women are depicted as central, rather than marginal, figures in history.

Slavery in the history of the United States continues to loom large in our national consciousness, and the role of women in this dark chapter of the American past is largely under-examined. This is the first encyclopedia to focus on the daily experiences and roles of female slaves in the United States, from colonial times to official abolition provided by the 13th amendment to the Constitution in 1865.

Enslaved Women in America: An Encyclopedia contains 100 entries written by a range of experts and covering all aspects of daily life. Topics include culture, family, health, labor, resistance, and violence. Arranged alphabetically by entry, this unique look at history features life histories of lesser-known African American women, including Harriet Robinson Scott, the wife of Dred Scott, as well as more notable figures.


  • Dozens of photos of former enslaved women
  • Detailed historical timeline
  • Numerous rare primary documents, including runaway slave advertisements and even a plantation recipe for turtle soup
  • Profiles of noted female slaves and their works


  • Provides a comprehensive examination of the role of enslaved women in United States history
  • Includes contributions from some of the top scholars in the field
  • Contains the most current and up-to-date research on enslaved women in the United States
  • Addresses current historical debates on a variety of topics referencing slavery
Author Info

Daina Ramey Berry, PhD, is associate professor of history at the University of Texas in Austin. Her published works include Swing the Sickle for the Harvest is Ripe: Gender and Slavery in Antebellum Georgia as well as articles in historical journals such as The Journal of African American History and Journal of Women's History.

Deleso A. Alford is associate professor of law at Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando. She has published numerous articles in publications such as Albany Law Review, Hamline Journal of Public Law & Policy, and The Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law.



"This is an interesting encyclopaedia covering both the history of slavery, and of women during this era, specifically how gender affected the personal and working lives of enslaved women, not just in relation to the enslavers, but within their own communities. This is useful for humanities collections, in particular for history and gender studies subjects, but anyone with an interest in the Old South, the American Civil War, the roots of feminism and the era of slavery would find this a worthwhile read."Reference Reviews

"As a compilation of essays and documents significant to the history of enslaved women in the US, this resource will be valuable to a wide range of readers. Summing Up: Highly recommended."Choice

"This encyclopedia provides valuable details about the often overlooked lives of enslaved black women before the American emancipation. Although other books cover this issue, the encyclopedia approach is unique."Booklist

"Ranging in topic from branding to child care and from folk medicine to hiring out, these absorbing pieces are also well-written and approachable for a general adult audience and undergraduates through faculty. All public and academic libraries supporting American history, African American studies, or women's studies programs should purchase this work."Library Journal


2013 Outstanding Reference Source — RUSA

Other Titles of Interest

Historically Black Colleges and Universities cover imageBlack America cover imageEncyclopedia of African American Music cover image
World of a Slave cover imageThe Frederick Douglass Encyclopedia cover imageWhat the Slaves Ate cover image

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