Three long-neglected logbooks from Connecticut's slave trade raise questions about memory and collective forgetting
In 1757, a sailing ship owned by an affluent Connecticut merchant sailed from New London to the tiny island of Bence in Sierra Leone, West Africa, to take on fresh water and slaves. On board was the owner's son, on a training voyage to learn the trade. The Logbooks explores that voyage, and two others documented by that young man, to unearth new realities of Connecticut's slave trade and question how we could have forgotten this part of our past so completely.
When writer Anne Farrow discovered the significance of the logbooks for the Africa and two other ships in 2004, her mother had been recently diagnosed with dementia. As Farrow bore witness to the impact of memory loss on her mother's sense of self, she also began a journey into the world of the logbooks and the Atlantic slave trade, eventually retracing part of the Africa's long-ago voyage to Sierra Leone. As the narrative unfolds in The Logbooks, Farrow explores the idea that if our history is incomplete, then collectively we have forgotten who we are—a loss that is in some ways similar to what her mother experienced. Her meditations are well rounded with references to the work of writers, historians, and psychologists. Forthright, well researched, and warmly recounted, Farrow's writing is that of a novelist's, with an eye for detail. Using a wealth of primary sources, she paints a vivid picture of the eighteenth-century Connecticut slavers. The multiple narratives combine in surprising and effective ways to make this an intimate confrontation with the past, and a powerful meditation on how slavery still affects us.
RECOVERING THE STORY
Cleared for Africa
Shadows on the Wall
Creating a Record
"How Did You Find Me?"
THE HAUNTED LAND
Meeting the Slave Traders
Another Century, Not My Own
The Past in Dreams
History for an Abandoned Place
The Screaming Man
The Story of a Stone
TROUBLE IN MIND
A Book with Many Bookmarks
A Platform for Memory
The Pain That Survives
The Fragile Power
History That Won't End
A HISTORY THAT DOESN'T "FIT"
Back to Africa
To Live in Peril on the Sea
Not a Word but a World
The Slave Trade's Men in Full
A Visit to Madina
This Far, and No Further
Lost and Found
Our Choice Is the Truth or Nothing
ANNE FARROW is coauthor of the bestseller Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged and Profited from Slavery. She lives in Haddam, Connecticut.
"A powerful story, heartbreaking, revealing, and redemptive. The Logbooks invites us to join a voyage of discovery into the 'triangles' of the trans-Atlantic slave trade—a deeply personal and empathetic exploration of history, memory, and identity. To lose our grasp on the past, Farrow reminds us, is to become unmoored from our selves."~John Wood Sweet, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
""In this rich, rewarding, and ultimately redemptive book, Anne Farrow invites us to explore the connections between the past and the present, who we are and what we remember. Perhaps no historian has done more to unearth the profound, often forgotten ways in which slavery shaped New England's history.""~John Wood Sweet, Connecticut History Review
""The story in The Logbooks is essential and relevant to people today.""~Mystic Seaport Magazine
""What [Farrow] discovered, long hidden away in the library's archives, was documented evidence of Connecticut's deep ties to the profitable slave trade.""~Randall Beach, The New Haven Register
""Farrow adds a profoundly emotional dimension to the historical record by providing this documentary evidence of callous indifference. This feature of her book is one of its finest contributions, encouraging readers to understand history in human terms, far beyond the numbing facts and statistics of conventional historical texts.""~Paul Von Blum, Truthdig
""Like the insect that no linger exists anywhere on Earth but is frozen in a fragment of amber, the 80 handwritten pages of Dudley Saltonstall's logbooks offer a painful glimpse of a vanished past. They are an emissary from that time, proof of something that really happened. They are a powerful form of evidence.""~Anne Farrow, Hartford Courant
""Anne Farrow's book is courageous, captivating, and necessary. Once again, Farrow has demonstrated that she is a masterful historian, educator, and storyteller, guiding readers through yesterday's hard truths and making connections to today.""~Olivia S. White, executive director, The Amistad Center for Art & Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
""A powerful story, heartbreaking, revealing, and redemptive. The Logbooks invites us to join a voyage of discovery into the 'triangles' of the trans-Atlantic slave trade—a deeply personal and empathetic exploration of history, memory, and identity. To lose our grasp on the past, Farrow reminds us, is to become unmoored from our selves.""~John Wood Sweet, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
""Anne Farrow has been on a remarkable journey over the past several years, and this book is a record of that sojourn. In a sense, it is itself a logbook. Farrow's strong and passionate voice, her deep, even fierce empathy, comes through powerfully as she leads the reader along the path that she took toward a personal engagement with Connecticut's involvement with slavery—and the slave 'trade'—challenging the reader to really see this aspect of our history as 'not a chapter but the book itself.'""~Robert P. Forbes, author of The Missouri Compromise and Its Aftermath: Slavery and the Meaning of America