As a family historian, I endeavor to breathe life into my ancestors by telling their tales. Taking aged documents, diaries, letters, and photographs, I try to recreate my predecessors’ realities, using our words and my imagination. Everyone has a story to share.
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Like a detective determined to crack a cold case, I am compelled to uncover family secrets and unearth family skeletons. I am energized by endless hours patiently paging through aged records, and I revel in the thrill of finding a clue or solving a genealogical puzzle. So, is it any wonder why I enjoy suspense/mystery novels?
In April 1816, the largest slave revolt in Barbadian history, Bussa’s Rebellion, took place. It was the first of three significant rebellions that eroded public support of slavery, thereby resulting in its abolition in 1834, when more than 80,000 British Empire slaves were emancipated.
After emancipation, labor contracts provided freed slaves with the opportunity to work as indentured servants. Unfortunately, these labor contracts had 12-year terms, as well as ridiculously low wages. Some former slaves were forced to work 45-hour weeks without pay in exchange for sparse accommodations. Also, indentured servants in Barbados were barred from receiving an education.
So, although emancipated, many of these freed slaves were still not free. It wasn’t until 1838, with the passage of the Masters and Servant Act (a.k.a. the Contract Law), that discrimination against people of color was prohibited, and these former enslaved were finally free.
In between Shakespeare and statistical analyses, Austen and annual reports, I indulge in historical romances. I especially relish reads whose heroines are spirited, steely-spined, softhearted survivors. And when it comes to strong women, author Mary Jo Putney always delivers.
What would you give up and how far would you go to make a better life for yourself? Would you pack up what little you had and leave your loved ones and your rural homeland to seek your fortune in the big city? Would you walk 250 miles over mountains and moors while driving a herd of cattle to forge a new destiny? Just what would you do?