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June 23, 2006
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v2.1 Reference

Captive Histories

English, French, and Native Narratives of the 1704 Deerfield Raid

This volume draws together an unusually rich body of original sources that tell the story of the 1704 French and Indian attack on Deerfield, Massachusetts, from different vantage points. Texts range from one of the most famous early American captivity narratives, John Williams's The Redeemed Captive, to the records of French soldiers and clerics, to little-known Abenaki and Mohawk stories of the raid that emerged out of their communities' oral traditions. Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney provide a general introduction, extensive annotations, and headnotes to each text.

Although the oft-reprinted Redeemed Captive stands at the core of this collection, it is juxtaposed to less familiar accounts of captivity composed by other Deerfield residents: Quentin Stockwell, Daniel Belding, Joseph Petty, Joseph Kellogg, and the teenaged Stephen Williams. Presented in their original form, before clerical editors revised and embellished their content to highlight religious themes, these stories challenge long-standing assumptions about classic Puritan captivity narratives.

The inclusion of three Abenaki and Mohawk narratives of the Deerfield raid is equally noteworthy, offering a rare opportunity not only to compare captors' and captives' accounts of the same experiences, but to do so with reference to different Native oral traditions. Similarly, the memoirs of French military officers and an excerpt from the Jesuit Relations illuminate the motivations behind the attack and offer fresh insights into the complexities of French-Indian alliances.

Taken together, the stories collected in this volume, framed by the editors' introduction and the assessments of two Native scholars, Taiaiake Alfred and Marge Bruchac, allow readers to reconstruct the history of the Deerfield raid from multiple points of view and, in so doing, to explore the interplay of culture and memory that shapes our understanding of the past.

About the Authors

Evan Haefeli is assistant professor of history at Columbia University.

Kevin Sweeney is professor of history and American studies at Amherst College.


"This is one of the best collections of documents I have ever read. It is rare to have a collection of disparate accounts hold together so well to create a unified story that is also full of interesting complexities and capable of addressing so many different historical problems. A classroom of students could discuss this for a week or more and still not have time to deal with all the issues it raises."—Nancy Shoemaker, author of A Strange Likeness: Becoming Red and White in Eighteenth-Century North America

"A superb project. . . . Coming on the heels of Captors and Captives, Haefeli and Sweeney's invaluable study of the Deerfield raid, the narratives collected in this volume give life to many of the voices that informed that specific history."—Ron Welburn, author of Roanoke and Wampum:

Topics in Native American Heritage and Literatures

"With its careful footnotes and editing, Captive Histories is a collection that can be used by professional historians. They will welcome the general and sectional introductions that also make the collection user-friendly to the senior undergraduate."—H-France

"'Captive Histories' is a follow-up to the author's well-received Captors and Captives: The 1704 French and indian Raid on Deerfield (Amherst, 2003) and, like it, aims to bring to light the complex and often completing perspectives in colonial New England."—Journal of British Studies

"This outstanding collection of primary sources, each with an introduction placing the material in context stands on its own as an essential purchase for all academic libraries and should be strongly considered for acquisition by public libraries."—Library Journal

"Captive Histories serves up a juicy selection of raw, primary sources offering insight into the raid on Deerfield, its origins and its aftermath from multiple perspectives. It is a work of rigorous scholarship, whose aim in essence is to purify our understanding of the event and context by detaching it as far as possible from the ethnocentrism of Puritan teleology. . . . Captive Histories provides another welcome counterpoint to the dominance of the Anglo-narrative – and will be an especially useful resource for teaching at advanced undergraduate level."—French History

"Haefeli and Sweeney have provided a great service in compiling this collection of primary sources. . . . The numerous explanatory footnotes provide excellent factual clarification and understanding for the uninitiated in the complexity of the Deerfield raid, and the introductory pieces to each individual source will give students significant explanation to understand the texts' greater significance. . . . [Captive Histories] will also hopefuly serve as a call for scholars to look more seriously at Native sources in order to gain a truer and more inclusive understanding of Native and European encounters of all types."—H-Net Reviews

"There is much to commend in this vital and engaging book. With its preceding companion volume it would make a valuable core to any course on Euro-American and Native American relations during the mid-colonial period."—Historical Journal of Massachusetts

9781558495432 : captive-histories-haefeli-sweeney
Paperback / softback
304 Pages
$24.95 USD

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