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Buried Lives: Incarcerated in Early America Paperback – Illustrated, March 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Buried Lives is an antidote to the Rothman/Foucault/Ignatieff trilogy that emphasizes prisons as engines of the state. Intersecting several historical fields, the collection draws from studies on slavery and abolition, reform, poverty and the working class, personal narratives, and print culture. The variety of sources and methodologies employed underlines the book’s potency as a revisionist project. The essays make good use of overlooked or not-so-obvious sources to tease out experiences, incidents, attitudes, and expressions of those incarcerated as well as their keepers.

-- Susan Branson ― author of Dangerous to Know: Women, Crime, and Notoriety in the Early Republic

A challenging and thought-provoking collection. Prison history tends to focus on the founding elite and to assume that their initial visions were in fact carried out in practice. These lively studies uncover the quotidian realities of guards, clergy, and inmates to counter these assumptions and challenge some dominant theories of the meaning of incarceration. The scholarship is first-rate, based on original archival research into previously obscure sources. Combined, these essays produce a fresh look at the roots of modern penal practices and at the resistance offered by those in these institutions.

-- Susan E. Klepp ― author of Revolutionary Conceptions: Women, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America, 1760–1820

Buried Lives is a welcomed intervention in penal history. By centrally locating inmates, this phenomenal collection of essays spotlights varied voices and incarceration experiences that speak provocatively about the flawed relationship between criminal 'justice' and American democracy.

-- Kali Nicole Gross ― Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, The University of Texas at Austin

Buried Lives is a strong addition to any collection dedicated to crime and punishment throughout history.

-- Midwest Book Review

Buried Lives is an important volume for scholars of the history of punishment, as well as those interested in early and antebellum American history, slavery and antislavery, the history of poverty, and the development of American literary and print media forms.

-- Jennifer Graber ― Journal of American History

The essays in [Buried Lives] have done an admirable job of bringing women, servants, slaves, and the poor to the center of the history of early American. Buried Lives will enrich and enliven undergraduate and graduate survey courses in law and history departments.

-- Taja-Nia Henderson ― Law and History Review

The book’s contents reflect its geographic origins (about half the volume centers on 18th-century Philadelphia), but as a whole, it lives up to its goal ‘to break incarceration free’ from the ‘historiographical roots’ planted by Michel Foucault, Michael Ignatieff, and David Rothman. . . . Those previously buried lives include ‘vicious men, calculating women, diffident drunks, runaway slaves, immigrant workers, homeless children, victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault . . . the vagrant, the poor, and the enslaved,’ all of which help complicate and enrich the understanding of incarceration in the early U.S.

-- M. G. Spencer ― Choice

This interdisciplinary approach to the study of punishment in early America provides a much-needed bridge to histories of twentieth-century penal regimes and current prisoners’ rights advocacy movements.

-- Jen Manion ― Journal of the Early Republic

About the Author

MICHELE LISE TARTER is an associate professor of English at the College of New Jersey. She is coeditor of A Centre of Wonders: The Body in Early America.

Richard Bell is an assistant professor of history at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of We Shall Be No More: Suicide and Self-Government in the Newly United States.

SUSAN EVA O'DONOVAN is an associate professor of history at the University of Memphis. She is the author of Becoming Free in the Cotton South and coeditor of two volumes of Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861–1867, part of the ongoing scholarship of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland. She is also codirector of the Memphis Massacre Project.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ University of Georgia Press; Illustrated edition (March 1, 2012)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0820341207
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0820341200
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
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