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Wench: A Novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez


This is the captivating tale of four slave women; Lizzy, Reenie, Sweet and Mawu. They vacation as mistresses at Tawawa House, a resort in the free state of Ohio with their masters. Each woman's story is told--life on their plantations is described, their children and the relationships they have with their masters and the other slaves. Interesting to me were the 'rules' of the free states as opposed to the Southern states where these women grew up and the idea that some slaves would vacation with their masters.

Although this story is fictional, an author's note indicates that Tawawa Resort did exist near Xenia, Ohio. It opened in 1852 and closed in 1855. Historians believe that the number of slave entourages were a reason for the decline of the resort's popularity. The land was sold to the Cincinnati Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and they established the Ohio African University in 1856. Due to the Civil War, enrollments declined and the campus closed. The property was purchased again in 1863 and reopened as Wilberforce University; it continues to be the nation's oldest, private, predominantly African American university. It is believed that the children of the unions between the slave women and the slaveholders were among the early students at the university. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central


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