NRP 11: Slavery, Runaways, Fancy Girls | Alex Haley’s ‘Roots’ | African-American Genealogy

Slavery was so pervasive in Tennessee that the city of Nashville owned slaves. Host Allen Forkum (editor of The Nashville Retrospect newspaper) interviews historian Bill Carey about his book “Runaways, Coffles and Fancy Girls: A History of Slavery in Tennessee.” Using his survey of advertisements in Tennessee newspapers, Carey shows how slavery touched many aspect of everyday commerce and law, such as banks, newspapers, factories, courts and even taxpayers. The ads also provide personal details and descriptions of enslaved African-American individuals, and they reveal the cruelty of the human bondage, from the separation of mothers from their children, to the use of young girls as sex slaves.

Also hear “Roots” author Alex Haley speak to the Tennessee State Legislature in April 1977. In his speech, samples of which can be heard in this podcast, Haley announced that a new, 12-part TV mini-series was in production, following the success of the record-breaking “Roots” mini-series. The book and the TV show sparked a surge of interest in genealogical research. In this podcast, genealogist Taneya Koonce discusses her own connection to Roots and the challenges of African-American genealogical research.

And finally, Allen Forkum reviews some of the contents of the February 2019 issue, including a river catching fire in 1824 and Bigfoot sightings in 1979. As part of Black History Month, there are also articles about a new Ku Klux Klan headquartered in Nashville in 1919, and a personal account of life under slavery by a former Nashville slave.

See additional photos, reference links, source credits, and more at:

The February 2019 issue of The Nashville Retrospect featured in this podcast can be ordered here:

This video was originally published as a podcast on Feb. 1, 2019.

For more fascinating Nashville history, visit

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