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English’s Lockard receives Filson Fellowship

June 19, 2009

Joe Lockard, ASU associate professor of English, is the recipient of a Filson Historical Society Fellowship that will fund a portion of his research on the early life of Kentucky-born author Mattie Griffith. Located in Louisville, the Filson Society is the leading historical society in Kentucky.

Griffith came of age in a slave-holding family during the mid-19th century, but her early experiences predisposed her against slavery and she became a strong abolitionist. Griffith wrote several anti-slavery texts including "Autobiography of a Female Slave" (1857), a pseudo-slave narrative depicting a woman's life under slavery. Griffith stated that the controversial "Autobiography" was composed of actual events she witnessed. Eventually she left to relocate in the North, at first in Pennsylvania and later Massachusetts. With financial assistance from the American Anti-Slavery Society, Griffith was able to emancipate her family's slaves.

Lockard's previous research reconstructed many facts of Griffith's later life as an author and reformer, historical work first published by the University Press of Mississippi as an afterword to its edition of the "Autobiography." However, there has been no opportunity to explore her earlier years in Owensboro and Louisville. Lockard intends to unearth missing pieces of her past so that this anti-slavery storyteller's own life story can be contextualized in antebellum Kentucky.

Ginger Hanson,
Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences