Strange Arts & Visual Delights
My Own Life
After ten years of work, especially during the year of lockdowns, I have a new book out—my annotated edition of an old, relatively obscure book, My Own Life or, A Deserted Wife, a memoir first published in 1898 by Ida Beard, a thirty-six year old woman from Winston-Salem, with only a grade-school education. She wrote the story of her life and her failed marriage to keep herself and her children from starving. It is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle or directly from me; for a copy, message me on FB or send an email (jsabsherphd @sign gmail.com).
I will be writing more about Ida and her world. Set during the rise of a prosperous tobacco city, the Panic of 1893, and the coming of Jim Crow, her book has about everything—romantic love, neglect and abuse and attempted murder, a wicked stepmother and runaway sisters, tragic deaths, a race riot, fraud and deceit, the disastrous effects of economic depression, unexpected kindness, persistence in the face of adversity—and the intercession of friendly ghosts. To sell her book, Ida traveled the country for 30 years and eventually sold 90,000 copies.
Sales from this book will support my research into my next topic, a group portrait of the 50 African American men arrested in Winston-Salem, in 1895, for their part in preventing a lynching (this is the race riot referred to above). I’m interested in who they were (their backgrounds, professions/trades, family and social relationships, church affiliations, etc.), and, to the extent it’s possible to determine, why they acted as they did—that is, arming themselves, standing guard over the jail, and refusing to disperse despite the apparently sincere assurances of town officials.
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Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.