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Jacobs, Harriet

  • By: Nicole L. Willey
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Harriet Jacobs (1813–97) is best known for her slave narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), which has been widely anthologized and is the most widely read and taught of American slave narratives by women. Her narrative, with names changed to protect and conceal the innocent, is a fairly accurate retelling of her major life events, from birth to the purchase of her freedom. Among the most memorable details of her story are the circumstances surrounding the birth and parentage of her children and the efforts she took in order to protect them.

Jacobs was born to slave parents, but her early life, being raised as a foster sister of sorts to her mistress, afforded her the opportunity to learn to read and ...

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