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Berea College Special Collections and Archives

Folks from Dixie


Dodd, Mead and Company published Paul Laurence Dunbar's first book of short stories, Folks From Dixie, in 1898. Through the twelve stories in this work of fiction, Dunbar revealed some of the harsh realities of living in Jim Crow America. The book's success confirmed Dunbar's desire to write both prose and poetry for public consumption.

To access this work in the Special Collections and Archives reading room, request Curio D899f.

An online version is available through this Google Books link.

From Folks From Dixie


    It was winter. The gray old mansion of Mr. Robert Selfridge, of Fayette County, Ky., was wrapped in its usual mantle of winter sombreness, and the ample plantation stretching in every direction thereabout was one level plain of unflecked whiteness. At a distance from the house the cabins of the negroes stretched away in a long, broken black line that stood out in bold relief against the extreme whiteness of their surrounding.

    About the centre of the line, as dark and uninviting as the rest, with its wide chimney of scrap limestone turning clouds of dense smoke into the air, stood a cabin.

    There was nothing in its appearance to distinguish it from the other huts clustered about. The logs that formed its sides were just as seamy, the timbers of the roof had just the same abashed, brow-beaten look; and the keenest eye could not have detected the slightest shade of difference between its front and the bare, unwhitewashed fronts of its scores of fellows. Indeed, it would not have been mentioned at all, but for the fact that within its confines lived and thrived the heroine of this story.

Paul Laurence Dunbar. Public Domain.