Cover: A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland, from Harvard University PressCover: A Mind to Stay in HARDCOVER

A Mind to Stay

White Plantation, Black Homeland

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Product Details


$29.95 • £23.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674972148

Publication Date: 02/20/2017


344 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

33 halftones, 5 maps


A marvelous example of how ‘microhistory,’ based on a deep immersion in local sources, can illuminate broad historical patterns.—Eric Foner, London Review of Books

It’s as much a family saga as Downton Abbey. It’s a Southern tale much richer than Gone with the Wind. It’s a particular American story that forms the weave of the nation’s larger history, one that could easily be the basis of a long novel. It’s a revealing, sobering, yet inspiring glimpse into a part of American history little known and little seen—light-touch scholarship of the best sort.—James M. Banner, Jr., The Weekly Standard

[A] fascinating story.—Dannye Romine Powell, The Charlotte Observer

Thousands of African Americans joined the Great Migration of the 20th century; what of those who stayed in the South? That is a key question. Using a rich collection of letters and records from the Cameron family of North Carolina, key sources from Alabama, and the oral histories of those who remained anchored on a Greene and Hart County (Alabama) plantation, Nathans concludes that the power of land ownership, facilitated by the sale of former plantation lands to former slaves, brought the autonomy and community connections that enabled generations to remain.—T. F. Armstrong, Choice

By tracing the story of a single plantation through generations, Nathans ably demonstrates how the legacy of slavery and oppression continues to profoundly affect the people throughout the South today. Recommended for all readers interested in Southern history or African American history.—Nicholas Graham, Library Journal

Nathans turns the story of the Great Migration on its head in this extraordinary and wide-ranging history of the lives, labors, and land of black men and women who remained in the South. Deeply researched and written with passion, it is a brilliant and original accounting of how ‘landedness’ was achieved over two centuries of African American struggle.—Ira Berlin, author of The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States

The Alabama Hargis family, that once worked farmland as slaves, used wit and skill, to own that very land, and, against odds, hold ownership over decades. A Mind to Stay is a rare and rich Reconstruction story told with deep understanding by Sydney Nathans.—William S. McFeely

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