Cover Image: All That She Carried

All That She Carried

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Member Reviews

"All That She Carried" by Tiya Miles is the history of a family of Black women that is centered around a bag that passes through the line of women. Upon learning that she was being sold, Rose quickly packs a survival bag for her daughter, Ashley, which contain an array of items that are larger in significance than how they might appear in our everyday lives. The bag ultimately makes it way to Ruth and is inscribed with an important message that highlights the trauma around the bag's origins and its passage through time. Miles' extensive research brings the reader into the exact frame in which this bag was packed and Rose and Ashley were separated. Miles' research allows for a thorough historical analysis of each item in the bag and their connection to the lives of enslaved women in the pre-Civil War South. This book is really fascinating.
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This is an outstanding work of material history that traces a single handcrafted item from its origins to its location today, providing astute and important commentary along the way in regard to human rights, the history of the Americas and enslavement of people, the lives of enslaved women and free women, and what we can learn by following this item back in time. I highly recommend this--it makes an excellent companion piece to 400 Souls.
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Tiya Miles uses a found object, an embroidered flour sack, to chronicle a riveting history of  South Carolina's plantation economy and the inhumanity it generated.  She creates a vivid picture of the life of an enslaved person in Charleston. The hints given on this object touched by 3 generations of women provide the author, a gifted historian, enough information to make them real to the reader.  "Rose, a visionary; Ashley, a survivor; and Ruth, a storyteller" (p. 231) Miles doesn't let Rose fade into the margins when relaying information found in plantation owners' records - the only source of information that can possibly be gleaned for glimpses of Rose.
This is a phenomenal  candidate for high school summer reading lists anywhere in the country, but especially the southern states.
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This book deserves to be on someone’s syllabus. NOW. 

She makes the brilliant choice to write this book in present tense, which makes it feel less like a historical account and more like an intimate retelling. 

This comprehensive little book takes you through a contextualized journey to understand how one unconventional “movable” heirloom weaves a web through 200 years. It is beautifully written and includes a lot of primary sources. This is obviously well researched and the historian is open about the struggles of using non-traditional sources as a starting point for archival research. As historical research has always been focused on the written words of white men.. she encourages us to step into another mode of physical genealogy. I am thoroughly impressed. 

The only small issue I have with this book is that it at times becomes repetitive.  I shall forgive it because it is the standard for scholarly writing. 

That being said, I can see chapters of this book used in interdisciplinary studies concerning black women (everything from sexuality, fashion and culinary).  The chapter concerning nature/pecans and enslaved individuals was thought-provoking.
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