Sally Hemings
March 31, 2016 10:09 AM   Subscribe

What is the best, most comprehensive nonfiction book on the life of Sally Hemings?
posted by lewedswiver to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Annette Gordon-Reed has two books on Sally Hemings and her family:
Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy and The Hemingses of Monticello.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:24 AM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Hemingses of Monticello is a great book. I was especially fascinated to learn of the life of her brother James, who was also in Paris with Jefferson and trained to be a chef.
posted by matildaben at 11:45 AM on March 31, 2016

Unfortunately, the subject tends to bring out the tendentious in people. I doubt you can really do the subject justice with only one book, or one author.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:30 PM on March 31, 2016

Yeah, but I like to read up on Sally Hemings myself (right now I am reading Barbara Chase-Riboud's fictionalized accounts of Sally and Harriet Hemings) and other than the two I mentioned, I haven't found a lot that's specific to her. Fawn Brodie's "Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History" does a fairly good job of trying to re-create what Sally was like with little information and likewise, figuring out how Thomas felt about her, but Sally isn't the sole focus.

Checking the source list for BCR's fictional "Sally Hemings" book right now, that author mentions the Brodie book and the various memoirs of Madison Hemings and Israel Jefferson (which are short appendixes in the Brodie), as well as Edmund Bacon and diaries of Aaron Burr, John Quincy Adams, family letters of the Adamses and Jeffersons, some lectures from various universities and a few biographies I haven't found IRL.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:50 PM on March 31, 2016

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