Skip to main content

Old Age and American Slavery

14 November 2018

The Whipping of Old Barney” from 'Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, His Early Life as a Slave, His Escape from Bondage, and His Complete History to this Time' (1881)

Historian undertaking research for new book project

A Cardiff historian specialising in North American History is undertaking further research for his new project Old Age and American Slavery as a recipient of a grant from the Roosevelt Institute for American Studies (RIAS) in the Netherlands.

Following his first book Contesting Slave Masculinity in the American South, Dr David Doddington is to explore perceptions of old age and attitudes towards “old” people in the American South (1783-1865). He will focus on the experiences and identities of enslavers and enslaved alike and reveal the implications of ageing on the institutional and ideological structures underpinning slavery in the US South.

In his research in September he will focus on violence, enslaved people’s resistance, and manumission (the act of enslaver “giving” freedom to those enslaved) through a study of court materials and petitions held at the RIAS.

He explains: “In addressing what happened to enslaved people who were ‘quite crooked with years and labour,’ (Ball, 1859) considering how ‘age and unremitting toil,’ (Northup, 1853) impacted upon strategies for survival, and revealing the fears of enslavers that they would lose the ‘vigour,’ (Pettigrew, 1858) necessary for dominance, Old Age and American Slavery will make important contributions to historical discussions on identities, power, and agency in slavery.

Recipient of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, the Lecturer in North American History is particularly interested in the study of resistance, solidarity, and strategies for survival in slave communities of the US South.

Share this story