Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Review of "Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys," by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard

Review of

Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys, by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard ISBN 0689800762

Five out of five stars

 This is one of those stories of historical fiction that was no doubt fact for many people. The time context is after the American Civil War, the slaves are freed and nearly all black people in the south are illiterate. The Quakers have established a school for blacks seven miles from the residence of the main characters, they walk to the school at the start of the week carrying their food for the week as well as spare clothing. The students stay at the school during the week and then walk home for the weekend.

 Virgie is a young girl with five older brothers, and she is determined to start school in the fall. She is told that she is too small, and girls have no need for formal schooling, a position that she rejects. Finally, her father relents and agrees to allow Virgie to go to school. After their things are packed, and their father tells the older boys to take care of Virgie, the six of them start their trek to the school.

 There was indeed such a black family (Fitzgerald) that lived seven miles from Jonesborough, Tennessee and walked to the Quaker school there. This book is based on tales of their lives that were passed down through the generations until it reached the author. Therefore, this book is more a work of fact than fiction. It is a great story about a young girl determined to learn, it also demonstrates how there were groups that did what they could to assist the recently freed blacks to rise up above the level of subservience.

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