Somerset Homecoming, first published in 1989, is the story of one woman's unflagging efforts to recover the history of her ancestors, slaves who had lived and worked at Somerset Place. Traveling down winding southern roads, through county courthouses and state archives, and onto the front porches of people willing to share tales handed down through generations, Dorothy Spruill Redford spent ten years tracing the lives of Somerset's slaves and their descendants. Her endeavors culminated in the joyous, nationally publicized homecoming she organized that brought together more than 2,000 descendants of the plantation's slaves and owners and marked the beginning of a campaign to turn Somerset Place into a remarkable resource for learning about the history of both African Americans and whites in the region.
About the Author
Table of Contents
"Over de River"
The Road Home The Arrival Voices from the Past Connecting Somerset Homecoming Epilogue Sources
What People are Saying About This
I read this delightfully written book straight through. All black people are the beneficiaries of Redford's labor of love.Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Dorothy Spruill Redford's Somerset Homecoming is, in the profoundest sense, achingly American. Her description of her brave people, and the moment they came together, is one of the most memorable chronicles ever written about black Americans in our nation. I read it enthralled, between tears and laughter. . . . All our children, black and white, should read it.Willie Morris
This is a compelling book, made notable by the author's intensely personal struggle to confront the past that was, for much of her life, something that she once felt 'no longer mattered'. . . . A fine book that serves as a reminder of how important it is to reach for your heritage.Our State
[Redford] tells the storyand it is a fascinating onewith charm and good humor.The Atlantic
The book skillfully weaves Redford's first-person remembrances of her immediate family into the fabric of her investigations. . . . It makes fascinating reading, thanks not only to the engrossing subject but also to a finely tuned, appealing style. . . . One of the more insightful and compelling histories of any search for family.Southern Living
There are moments of drama, high humor and sorrow in Redford's odyssey. It's a joy to share her triumph at identifying her forebears, then bringing together 2000 of their descendants.Publishers Weekly
This is one of those books that prove love is the ladder that reaches through time: sometimes the first rung of this ladder is disguised but that is only a test.Alice Walker
The moving story of how one black woman, inspired by Alex Haley's Roots, discovered her family's heritage. . . . As much about a remarkable woman as about an American people.New York Times Book Review
Dorothy's study is the best, most beautifully researched, and most thoroughly presented black family history that I know of. . . . I don't believe I could imagine a better answer to the prayers of her relatives' foreparentsof all our foreparentsthan what she has brought together and created at Somerset Place and the story she tells in these pages. . . . It is all our stories.Alex Haley
Redford has crafted a narrative as compelling as a novel. Somerset Homecoming is a wonderful tale.Mary Helen Washington