The Director of Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute Jonathan Noyalas ’01, M.A., has received a contract from University Press of Florida (UPF) for his next book, “‘To Be Free Some Day’: Race, Slavery, and Emancipation in the Shenandoah Valley During the Civil War Era.”
While the book is an outgrowth of a paper Noyalas presented in June 2018 at the Society of Civil War Historians conference in Pittsburgh, he said his interest in the subject of slavery and emancipation in the Shenandoah Valley goes back to his time as a Virginia Tech graduate student, when he researched the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Winchester during the first half of 1863. “Soon after graduate school, I worked on a book commissioned by the Newtown History Center (in Stephens City, Virginia) about the African-American experience in that community, so I’ve really been looking at this issue for about the past 18 years.”
The volume will be the first stand-alone book on the topic, Noyalas noted. “There are some studies that offer bits and pieces, but no cohesive, overarching analysis,” he said. “The book will really examine the uncertain nature of freedom for African Americans in the valley during the Civil War era. It will examine the ways African Americans, at times with assistance from Union soldiers, assumed control over their lives and asserted themselves. Additionally, it will explore things such as how African Americans defined freedom, the myriad ways they tried to realize it, and the various obstacles they confronted during the process.”
The book, which is the 13th either authored or edited by Noyalas, examines the valley up through the end of the Freedman’s Bureau’s operations in the early 1870s. However, Noyalas said an epilogue will highlight how African Americans lived in the immediate aftermath of the bureau’s departure.
Noyalas’ book will be part of UPF’s “Dissent in the South” series edited by Randall Miller (St. Joseph’s University) and Stanley Harrold (South Carolina State University). Noyalas said he hopes to submit his manuscript to the publisher by the end of 2019, and he anticipates publication by the end of the following year.