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ConnexionsHistories of Race and Sex in North America$
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Jennifer Brier, Jim Downs, and Jennifer L. Morgan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040399

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040399.001.0001

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Power and Historical Figuring

Power and Historical Figuring

Rachael Pringle Polgreen’s Troubled Archive

Chapter:
(p.143) Chapter 7 Power and Historical Figuring
Source:
Connexions
Author(s):

Marisa J. Fuentes

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252040399.003.0007

This chapter tells the story of Rachael Pringle Polgreen, a freedwoman in Barbados who owned a brothel in the late eighteenth century, but whose life can be pieced together only through scraps of evidence. She was a woman of color, a former slave turned slave owner, and many stories circulate that she ran her well-known brothel without much legal controversy. The persistent historical representations of her life draw from an archive unusual for many free(d) and enslaved women of color in eighteenth-century slave societies. In fact, Polgreen's life story—her triumphs, extraordinary relationships, and visual depictions have not altered since the nineteenth century. Thus the archive and secondary historical accounts beg reexamination, as the chapter argues that Polgreen's experiences represent a larger problem of how archives systematically prevent the experiences of African women from being uncovered.

Keywords:   Rachael Pringle Polgreen, Barbados, freed women, women of color, enslaved women, eighteenth-century slave societies, slavery, Polgreen's life story, African women, archive

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