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READ WISCONSIN — Enslaved, Indentured, Free: Five Black Women on the Upper Mississippi, 1800-1850, by Mary Elise Antoine

March 21 @ 3:45 PM - 5:15 PM CDT

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In partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society, we are excited to feature Mary Elise Antoine’s 2022 book, Enslaved, Indentured, Free: Five Black Women on the Upper Mississippi, 1800-1850 (Wisconsin Historical Society Press) in this first Read Wisconsin book event of 2023. The author will be attending the first part of our gathering (virtually) to discuss the book and her extensive research.

Antoine’s book tells the story of five extraordinary Black women whose lives intersected in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin in the 1800s. Gleaning details from legal documents, military records, court transcripts, and personal correspondence, Antoine unveils the lived experience of enslaved Black people in the Upper Mississippi River Valley—people who were denied freedom despite the fact that the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 made slavery illegal in territory that encompassed Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota. Difficult to enforce and riddled with loopholes, the ordinance was thwarted by white enslavers who continued to hold Black people captive well into the 19th Century. The five women Antoine spotlights all secured their freedom through perseverance, self-purchase, or freedom suits.

We hope you will join us for Read Wisconsin, a thrice-yearly book event that features excellent books and rich conversation that engages a Christian perspective.  We will gather for refreshments at 3:45 PM and begin our program at 4:00 PM.

Program Capacity 

20 people


We encourage participants to purchase and read the book prior to attending the event as we will spend time in small group discussions after the author presents. Enslaved, Indentured, Free: Five Black Women on the Upper Mississippi, 1800-1850 (2022, Wisconsin Historical Society Press) is available from the publisher, as well as from other vendors in print and digital formats.


John Terrill, Executive Director

Rebecca Cooks, Hospitality and Student Enrichment Manager


Mary Elise Antoine

Mary Elise Antoine is president of the Prairie du Chien Historical Society and former curator at Villa Louis. She is the author of The War of 1812 in Wisconsin and coeditor, with Lucy Eldersveld Murphy, of Frenchtown Chronicles of Prairie du Chien (both 2016, Wisconsin Historical Society Press).



March 21
3:45 PM - 5:15 PM CDT
Event Categories:


John Terrill


Upper House
365 East Campus Mall, Suite 200
Madison, WI 53715 United States
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