Daisy Turner's Kin

Daisy Turner's Kin

An African American Family Saga

Book - 2015
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A daughter of freed African American slaves, Daisy Turner became a living repository of history. The family narrative entrusted to her--"a well-polished artifact, an heirloom that had been carefully preserved"--began among the Yoruba in West Africa and continued with her own century and more of life. In 1983, folklorist Jane Beck began a series of interviews with Turner, then one hundred years old and still relating four generations of oral history. Beck uses Turner's storytelling to build the Turner family saga, using at its foundation the oft-repeated touchstone stories at the heart of their experiences: the abduction into slavery of Turner's African ancestors; Daisy's father Alec Turner learning to read; his return as a soldier to his former plantation to kill his former overseer; and Daisy's childhood stand against racism. Other stories re-create enslavement and her father's life in Vermont--in short, the range of life events large and small, transmitted by means so alive as to include voice inflections. Beck, at the same time, weaves in historical research and offers a folklorist's perspective on oral history and the hazards--and uses--of memory. Publication of this book is supported by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the L. J. and Mary C. Skaggs Folklore Fund.
Publisher: Urbana [Illinois] : University of Illinois Press, [2015]
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780252080791
0252080793
Branch Call Number: 929.2089 TURNER D
Characteristics: 295 pages : illustrations, genealogical table, maps, portraits ; 24 cm.

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DorisWaggoner
Apr 29, 2018

Beck began interviewing Daisy Turner when Turner was 100. She found her to be totally engaging, with a deep, rich voice, an orator trained by her father to remember and recite the family stories back to the early 1800s. Daisy's great grandmother was an Englishwoman, shipwrecked off the Bight of Benin in West Africa. Her great grandfather was the son of a Yoruba chief, who braved the surf to rescue her when her ship went down. This couple had a son, raised to be a chief himself, a big man, an athlete, a merchant and a slave trader. Ironically, he was captured and put on a slave ship headed for America. He wanted his children to remember who they were and where they came from. His owner treated him fairly, but severe punishment by an overseer made him realize the unfairness of the system, and he vowed to escape as soon as possible. The Civil War gave his son that chance. He had had a good relationship with "Little Missy," who encouraged him to escape, and recommended Vermont as a good place for free blacks. He and his wife ended up there, and all their children were born and raised there. They were poor, but led lives rich in spirit and family closeness. The author spent years researching, trying to verify as much as she could of Daisy's story. A wonderful read.

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negen8
Feb 09, 2018

Excellent read. The author skillfully took from her subject a oral history, then did thorough historic research, along with honest human evaluations, & wove it into a captivating read. It moved me to think and act in our own family.

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