From the Huffington Post

A letter handwritten by a slave named Ferdinand Robertson.

A letter handwritten by a slave named Ferdinand Robertson.

Life for an African-American southerner was a mixed bag of “troubles” and personal success circa 1841, experiences revealed in a series of 27 handwritten letters that have been recently acquired by the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS).

“What makes these letters so interesting is that they give us a glimpse into the personal and social lives of African Americans before the Civil War,” Jennifer Duplaga, Manuscripts Curator at the Kentucky Historical Society, told The Huffington Post.

The letters, written mostly by a woman named Isabel/Isabella Watson between 1841 and 1883, originate in Mississippi City, Miss. and include news of people’s health and illnesses, activities, church and religion, the enslaved status of people in the Hopkinsville, Ky., community, births and deaths, and the sale of individuals.

“The bulk of these letters were written before 1859,” Duplaga said. “The post Civil War letters, which begin in 1873, appear to have been written by a different generation.”

Those later letters focus more on individuals working as teachers, buying homes, purchasing household items, and their general health and economic situations, Duplaga explains. Those written before the war are more outward looking, she says, detailing efforts to gather information about others, while the post-war letters focus more inward and offer more personal insights.

Read more about the letters here.