They Were Her Property: A Conversation

On April 8, 2021, the 2020 Harriet Tubman Prize winner Dr. Stephanie Jones-Rogers, associate professor of history at the University of California-Berkeley, and Dr. Thavolia Glymph, professor of history and law at Duke University, had a compelling discussion of Jones-Rogers’ They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, a regional study that draws upon formerly enslaved people’s testimony to dramatically reshape current understandings of white women’s economic relationships to slavery as well as Jones-Rogers’ works in progress on gender, race, and slavery.

They Were Her Property foregrounds the testimony of enslaved and formerly enslaved people and puts their reflections into conversation with other narrative sources, legal documents, and financial records in order to show how white women’s pecuniary investments in the institution shaped their gender identities and to situate them at the center of 19th century America’s most significant and devastating system of economic exchange.

You many watch the recorded program here.


Dr. Stephanie Jones-Rogers is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Berkeley, where she specializes in African-American history, the history of American slavery, and women’s and gender history. Her book They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South (Yale University Press, 2019) won the Lapidus Center’s 2020 Harriet Tubman Prize for the best nonfiction book published in the United States on the slave trade, slavery, and anti-slavery in the Atlantic World, the Southern Association for Women’s Historians 2020 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize awarded for the best book in southern women’s history, the Southern Historical Association’s 2020 Charles S. Sydnor Award, which is awarded for the best book in southern history published in an odd-numbered year, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic’s 2020 Best Book Prize, and the Organization of American Historians’ 2020 Merle Curti Prize for the best book in American social history. She is also the first African-American and the third woman to win the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History since the award’s inception in 1980.


Dr. Thavolia Glymph is a professor of history and law at Duke University. Her work focuses on slavery, emancipation, plantation societies and economies, Reconstruction, and black political thought in the nineteenth century U.S. South. She is the author of Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (Cambridge University Press, 2008) which received the Philip Taft Prize in Labor and Working-Class History and was a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Prize, and The Women’s Fight: The Civil War’s Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation (Littlefield History of the Civil War Era (University of North Carolina Press, 2020), a finalist for the 2021 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize. She is a co-editor of two volumes of the award-winning documentary series Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867 (Series 1, Volume 1 and Series 1, Volume 3).