"Carefully researched and fully documented . . . Wood is an able scholar whose study Slavery in Colonial Georgia, 1730–1775 made a valuable contribution that is now extended with this thoughtful examination of slave life."
"In recent years there has been a shift to investigating the 'internal' or 'informal' economy in which slaves bought, sold, or bartered their own goods. . . . Women's Work, Men's Work is a major and superb addition to these studies."
"Presents a perspective of slave life that up to this point has received little attention."
—Journal of Southwest Georgia History
"Solidly grounded in studies of slave societies in the Caribbean as well as the American South."
"The thousands of bondpersons who people Betty Wood's brilliant study labored long and hard on small parcels of land in their desire to achieve a small degree of quasi independence and better their material condition of life. . . . Provides a worthy model for specialists in other parts of the South to follow."
—Journal of American History
"Clearly written and well-crafted . . . Superbly reconstructs the informal slave economies of lowcountry Georgia. Hers is a convincing portrait that fills an important gap in our knowledge of bondspeoples' lives."
—Journal of Southern History
The daily battles of bondpeople to secure rights as producers and consumers reflected and reinforced the integrity of the private lives they were determined to fashion for themselves, Wood posits. Their families formed the essential base upon which, and for which, they organized their informal economies. An expanding market in Savannah provided opportunities for them to negotiate terms for the sale of their labor and produce, and for them to purchase the goods and services they sought.
In considering the quasi-autonomous economic activities of bondpeople, Wood outlines the equally significant, but quite different, roles of bondwomen and bondmen in organizing these economies. She also analyzes the influence of evangelical Protestant Christianity on bondpeople, and the effects of the fusion of religious and economic morality on their circumstances.
For a combination of practical and religious reasons, Wood finds, informal slave economies, with their impact on whites, became the single most important issue in Savannah politics. She contends that, by the 1820s, bondpeople were instrumental in defining the political agenda of a divided city—a significant, if unintentional, achievement.
Read more about slave women at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
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