Slave Narratives

What was the first autobiography published by an American black woman?

The first autobiography by an American black woman was The Life and Religious Experiences of Jarena Lee, a Coloured Lady by religious leader Jarena Lee (1783–?), published in 1836. Lee was a nineteenth-century evangelist and itinerant preacher who called herself “the first female preacher of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church.” In her lifetime she published two autobiographies; the second, Religious Experiences and Journal of Jarena Lee, was published in 1849. Little is known about her life after that time.


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