Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883)

Born into slavery around 1797, Sojourner Truth is often referred to as one of the most effective and powerful speech makers of her time. Most of what we know of her comes from her speeches (transcribed by others) and Narrative of Sojourner Truth (1850) the autobiography which she dictated and sold. Sojourner Truth in 1843 listened to what she felt was a summons of God which instructed her to preach. Born Isabella Baumfree, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth to reflect her mission of travelling to show people their sins and telling them what is true. Addressing the intersections of both race and gender in nineteenth-century American culture, Sojourner Truth is a significant voice in discussions of slavery and suffrage.

Suggested Further Reading

Jean Fagan Yellin, Women and Sisters: The Antislavery Feminists in American Culture, 1989.

Jaqueline Bernard, Journey Toward Freedom: The Story of Sojourner Truth, 1990.

Nell I. Painter, "Representing Truth: Sojourner Truth's Knowing and Becoming Known" in Thus Far by Faith: Readings in African-American Women's Religious Biography, eds Judith Weisenfeld and Richard Newman, 1995.

Nell I. Painter, forthcoming biography of Sojourner Truth.