Book Review: ‘My Confederate Kinfolk, A Twenty-First Century Freedwoman Discovers Her Roots’

ConfederateKinfolkThulani Davis inherited the writer’s gene and two photo albums from her grandmother Georgia Curry: one with photographs of white ancestors, the other with photographs of black ancestors.

Through the Library of Congress and in cotton fields across the South, through slave inventories and personal family letters, Davis retraces her family history, finding records of her slave and slaveholding ancestors to follow their steps from prior to the Civil War, through the conflict itself, into Reconstruction and beyond. The result is “My Confederate Kinfolk: A Twenty-First Century Freedwoman Discovers Her Roots,” a family history novel that tells the stories behind the photographs.

Where Alex Haley’s “Roots” told the story of Kunta Kinte, Kizzy and Chicken George, Davis explores Chloe Curry, William Argyle Campbell and “Chloe’s White Child,” her own grandmother, Georgia Campbell. The names can get a bit confusing, but the family trees help the reader place the who’s who. Davis, a journalist, discovers the origin of her surname, of her hairline, of the writing tradition in her female forebears.

Davis’ research is thorough and her telling of the tale personal and touching. Through the lens of her own family, she reveals the tale of two Americas.

A must-read for lovers of history and family.


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