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Products for grant FA-57651-14

The Value of Human Chattel from Preconception to Postmortem
Daina Ramey Berry, University of Texas, Austin

Grant details:

The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation (Book)
Title: The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation
Author: Daina Ramey Berry
Abstract: In life and in death, slaves were commodities, their monetary value assigned based on their age, gender, health, and the demands of the market. The Price for Their Pound of Flesh is the first book to explore the economic value of enslaved people through every phase of their lives—including preconception, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, the senior years, and death—in the early American domestic slave trade. Covering the full “life cycle,” historian Daina Ramey Berry shows the lengths to which enslavers would go to maximize profits and protect their investments. Illuminating “ghost values” or the prices placed on dead enslaved people, Berry explores the little-known domestic cadaver trade and traces the illicit sales of dead bodies to medical schools. This book is the culmination of more than ten years of Berry’s exhaustive research on enslaved values, drawing on data unearthed from sources such as slave-trading records, insurance policies, cemetery records, and life insurance policies. Writing with sensitivity and depth, she resurrects the voices of the enslaved and provides a rare window into enslaved peoples’ experiences and thoughts, revealing how enslaved people recalled and responded to being appraised, bartered, and sold throughout the course of their lives. Reaching out from these pages, they compel the reader to bear witness to their stories, to see them as human beings, not merely commodities. A profoundly humane look at an inhumane institution, The Price for Their Pound of Flesh will have a major impact how we think about slavery, reparations, capitalism, nineteenth-century medical education, and the value of life and death.
Year: 2017
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Author's information in Worldcat
Secondary URL: http://
Secondary URL Description: Author's personal website.
Publisher: Beacon Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780807047620
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes

Berry Slave Value Database (Database/Archive/Digital Edition) [show prizes]
Title: Berry Slave Value Database
Author: Daina Ramey Berry
Abstract: This study uses historical records from 36 archives in the United States to analyze 8,437 enslaved people’s sale and/or appraisal prices from 1797 to 1865. Demographic information, including name, year, age/age group, gender, state, and trade/skill notations were recorded when applicable. By calculating average appraisal and sale values across cross-sections of gender (male or female) and age group (0-10 years old, 11-22 years old, 23-39 years old, and 40+ years old), a total of sixteen major comparative prices were analyzed (app/male/0-10; app/female/0-10; sale/male/0-10; sale/female/0-10; app/male/11-22; app/female/11-22; sale/male/11-22; sale/female/11-22; app/male/23-39; app/female/23-39; sale/male/23-39; sale/female/23-39; app/male/40+; app/female/40+; sale/male/40+; sale/female/40+). Scholars have the opportunity to use this data set to understand how enslaved people were valued and appraised. The demographic data included will be useful to those who want to explore various aspects of the history of slavery and enslaved people.
Year: 2017
Primary URL:
Access Model: Open access