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Exploring White Women as Slave Owners in the American South with Stephanie Jones-Rogers

It’s easy to think of slave holding as a male profession. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and countless other men are often the names that come to mind when we think about early Americans who held other people in bondage.

But white women, especially in the American South, were equally invested in slavery as owners in human property. A new generation of historians is helping us to understand why and how.

One such scholar is Dr. Stephanie Jones-Rogers of the University California-Berkeley. She is the author of the new book, They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, which recently won the LA Times Book Prize in History and the Best Book Award from the Society for Historians of the Early Republic.

On today’s episode, we bring you the audio version of Library Executive Director Dr. Kevin Butterfield’s recent live stream interview with Dr. Jones-Rogers. It’s an illuminating look at an underexplored topic that were only just beginning to better understand.

About Our Guest:

Stephanie Jones-Rogers is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Berkeley where she specializes in African-American history, the history of American slavery, and women’s and gender history. She is the author of the book They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South (Yale University Press, 2019), which won the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic’s 2020 Best Book Prize and the Organization of American Historians’ 2020 Merle Curti Prize for the best book in American social history. She is also the first African-American and the third woman to win the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History since the award’s inception in 1980. A former faculty member at the University of Iowa, Jones-Rogers received her Ph.D. in African-American History from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in 2012.

About Our Guest Host:

Kevin C. Butterfield is the  Executive Director of the Washington Library. He comes to Mount Vernon from the University of Oklahoma, where he served as the Director of the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage and Constitutional Studies Program, holding an appointment as the Wick Cary Professor and Associate Professor of Classics and Letters. He is the author of The Making of Tocqueville's America: Law and Association in the Early United States (Chicago, 2015).