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The Collected Essays of Josephine J. Turpin Washington

A Black Reformer in the Post-Reconstruction South
Josephine Turpin Washington. Edited by Rita B. Dandridge

BUY Cloth · 264 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813942124 · $39.50 · Feb 2019
BUY Ebook · 264 pp. · ISBN 9780813942131 · $39.50 · Feb 2019

Newspaper journalist, teacher, and social reformer, Josephine J. Turpin Washington led a life of intense engagement with the issues facing African American society in the post-Reconstruction era. This volume recovers numerous essays, many of them unavailable to the general public until now, and reveals the major contributions to the emerging black press made by this Virginia-born, Howard University-educated woman who clerked for Frederick Douglass and went on to become a writer with an important and unique voice.

Written between 1880 and 1918, the work collected here is significant in the ways it disrupts the nineteenth-century African American literary canon, which has traditionally prioritized slave narratives. It paves the way for the treatment of race and gender in later nineteenth-century African American novels, and engages Biblical scriptures and European and American literatures to support racial uplift ideology. It also articulates shrewdly the aesthetic needs and responsibilities necessary for the black press to establish a reputable literary sphere.

Part of a vibrant movement in recent scholarship to reclaim writings of nineteenth-century African American women writers, this expertly edited and annotated collection represents not only a valuable scholarly resource but a powerful example of the determination of a southern black woman to inspire others to improve their own lives and those of all African Americans.


"An important, well-conceived, meticulously researched, timely, and necessary collection, this volume offers a much-needed corrective to the historical omission of Washington’s work. Publishing the majority of extant writings in Washington’s opus, it will serve as an important resource for scholars and teachers, allowing us to consider Washington’s contributions to education, black women’s organizing, black social and political thought, and racial uplift. It will also center Washington within the social and political spaces that black women created to assert their own voice, priorities, and perspectives on issues impacting black communities and the nation as a whole."

Shirley Moody-Turner, Pennsylvania State University, author of, Pennsylvania State University, author of Black Folklore and the Politics of Racial Representation

"This important text finally makes available and accessible the wealth of revolutionary writings by Washington about Reconstruction and thus helps us to reconsider the myriad ways in which blacks sought to use the written word to challenge their oppression."

Nicole Aljoe, Northeastern University, co-editor of  Journeys of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas

About the Author(s): 

Rita B. Dandridge is Professor of Languages and Literature at Virginia State University and the author of Black Women’s Activism: Reading African American Women’s Historical Romances.

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