Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

There are not enough words to express my gratitude to those who have played such an instrumental role in the development of this work. My first thanks goes to God for making this book possible and for giving me the strength to persevere. To my editor, Brandon Proia...

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Prologue: Between Sound and Silence

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pp. 1-3

This book is an effort to give voice to a group that has been too long silent. There was no greater inspiration for this effort than memories of my great-grandmother, a woman of quiet dissemblances, meaningful pauses, and reticence when it came to sharing “too much...

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Introduction: “Only Woman Blacksmith in America Is a Convict”

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pp. 4-20

In 1896, Mattie Crawford was convicted of murder by a Meriwether County judge and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Georgia state penitentiary. She killed her stepfather, who, reportedly, abused her. One day, “when he came into the house she took up a chair and brained...

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1. The Gendered Anatomy of “Negro Crime”

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pp. 21-60

At the Rising Fawn prison mine, tucked away in the foothills of Dade County, Carrie Massie, “a sixteen-year-old Negro girl,” built her home in the depths of despair. The young woman’s ordeal began in 1882, when she was convicted of murdering William Evans...

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2. Black Women and Convict Leasing in the “Empire State” of the New South

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pp. 61-102

On the afternoon of October 24, 1884, Ella Gamble sat stock-still in the Hamilton County courthouse while an all-white male jury deliberated her fate. The twenty-two-year-old pregnant newlywed and domestic worker had been nearing the end of her first trimester...

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3. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Cuts Cordwood: Prison Camps for Women

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pp. 103-139

By the time Carrie Massie arrived at the Camp Heardmont prison farm in 1892, she was no longer a young “Negro girl,” but a full-grown woman who had given birth to “four children and, in each instance, the child bore unmistakable signs that the father was...

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4. Sustaining the “Weak and Feeble”: Women Workers and the Georgia State Prison Farm

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pp. 140-171

In the summer of 1911, A. H. Ulm boarded a Friday morning train out of Atlanta, bound for the Georgia state prison farm. A contributing author for the Atlanta Constitution newspaper and a noble son of the South, the essayist traveled to the farmstead seeking fodder...

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5. Broken, Ruined, and Wrecked: Women on the Chain Gang

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pp. 172-188

On September 19, 1908, the General Assembly of Georgia passed a law abolishing the lease of convicts to private parties and decentralizing the state’s chain gang system. The act required that “all male felony convicts, except such as are now required by law to be kept...

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Epilogue: The Sound of Broken Silence

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pp. 189-192

This book has been my attempt to give voice to a group of women who had theirs taken away. But the process of creating voice was much more difficult than I expected. In order to tell these women’s stories, I had to rely on other’s interpretations of events, reading...

Notes

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pp. 193-218

Bibliography

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pp. 219-238

Index

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pp. 239-258