Dr. Rita Roberts, I Can’t Wait to Call You My Wife, 1st ed., Signed on Bookplate


Finalist for the Gilder-Lehrman Prize
Voices of African Americans of the Civil War Era Through Letters

In stock


Amidst bloody battles and political maneuvering, thousands of African Americans spent the Civil War trying to hold their families together. This moving book illuminates that struggle through the letters they exchanged. Despite harsh laws against literacy and brutal practices that broke apart Black families, people found ways to write to each other against all odds. In these pages, readers will meet parents who are losing hope of ever seeing their children again and a husband who walks fifteen miles to visit his wife, enslaved on a different plantation.

The collection also includes tender courtship letters exchanged between Lewis Henry Douglass and Helen Amelia Loguen, both children of noted abolitionists, and letters sent home by the young women who traveled south to teach literacy to escaped slaves. Roberts’ expert curation allows readers to see the wider historical context. The transcriptions are accompanied by reproductions of selected original letters and photographs of the letter writers.

Roberts, Dr. Rita. I CANNOT WAIT TO CALL YOU MY WIFE: AFRICAN AMERICAN LETTERS OF LOVE AND FAMILY IN THE CIVIL WAR ERA. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2022. 1st ed.; 256p., dj, many illustrations.