Book Event: "Daisy Turner’s Kin: An African American Family Saga"

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Book Event: "Daisy Turner’s Kin: An African American Family Saga"
with author Dr. Jane Beck

Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 6:00-7:30 pm
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston

FREE! To register, visit our website or call 617-226-1226.

A daughter of freed African American slaves, Daisy Turner (1883-1988) became a living repository of history. The family narrative entrusted to her—"a well-polished artifact, an heirloom that had been carefully preserved"—began among the Yoruba in West Africa and represented four generations of family history. In 1983 folklorist Jane Beck met Turner and spent three years recording her family story. From these interviews came a video, “On My Own,” and a Peabody award winning radio series, “Journey’s End: The Memories and Traditions of Daisy Turner and her Family.”

In her most recent work, Daisy Turner’s Kin: An African American Family Saga (University of Illinois Press, 2015), Beck combines Turner's storytelling with historical research to build and authenticate a family saga. Join the author to learn more about Daisy Turner and her family’s stories—from the abduction into slavery of Turner’s African ancestors to Daisy's father learning to read; Daisy's childhood stand against racism to her family's life in Vermont—and gain a better understanding of the hazards and uses of memory through a folklorist’s perspective.

About the speaker: Jane Beck received her MA and PhD in Folklore Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She has spent a lifetime interviewing people in the British Isles, Ireland, the West Indies and New England. In 1983 she founded the Vermont Folklife Center, serving as its executive director until she retired in 2007. Dedicated to documenting and presenting the cultural heritage of everyday Vermonters, the Center made the preservation of the oral interview a core of its endeavors.


I met and filmed Daisy Turner for my Civil War series and was struck by her vibrancy and the power of her voice. How fortunate we are that Jane Beck was able to both record and authenticate her family narrative. It allows us new insights into the experience of four generations of a family who maintained their identity and self-respect in spite of the dehumanizing circumstances they lived through. What an engaging and powerful story!

Ken Burns, filmmaker


Questions? Call us at 617-226-1226 or email