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Searching for Sarah Rector: the richest…

Searching for Sarah Rector: the richest black girl in America (edition 2014)

by Tonya Bolden (Author)

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685313,853 (3.36)2
Recounts the story of the 1914 disappearance of eleven-year-old Sarah Rector, an African American who was part of the Creek Indian people and whose land had made her wealthy, and what it reveals about race, money, and American society.
Title:Searching for Sarah Rector: the richest black girl in America
Authors:Tonya Bolden (Author)
Info:Harry N. Abrams (2014), 80 pages
Collections:Your library

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Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America by Tonya Bolden


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Showing 5 of 5
This one seemed anticlimactic.

Sarah Rector was a black girl born to Creek freedmen (free blacks of the Creek Nation) in 1902. Like other relocated Creek and members of other tribes, each person in her family born before a certain date was entitled to a parcel of land of about 160 acres.

Sarah's allotment turned up some black gold gushers.

Then the papers reported this newly rich child missing...then not missing. The judge who oversaw the management of her estate responded to a letter from W.E.B. DuBois requesting the facts on her story, as it was being wildly misreported all over the country. So Judge Thomas Leahy provided the facts...which were that Sarah's money was being well-managed by her estate's guardian, white man T.J. Porter, that her family was well-cared for in a newly built house, that she and her siblings were in school, and that the guardian was accepting a relatively low cut of the income for his troubles.

I guess the fact that Sarah and her family weren't swindled by the guardian or the judge is actually interesting for being so atypical at the time; but she never really disappeared, so the "search" for her wasn't a very interesting element to wrap the story around.

Also, the introductory background information was tedious and full of unnecessary details. It felt like it was added later to meet a length requirement.

When the book was over, I found myself wanting more on Sarah's continued life, as well as more on the incorruptible Judge Thomas Leahy.

Then again, perhaps my reading of Sarah's story suffered from following directly after a reading of the bombastic life of Josephine Baker. ( )
  rhowens | Nov 26, 2019 |
Poorly written. I added the second star because the actual historical information was interesting and well researched. The title of the book made me think it would be biographical but it really isn't. I wanted to read about Sarah and very little information is provided about her. Instead the first part is mostly facts, history, and build up. If there was more depth to this and more information about Sarah Rector I would have appreciated it more. It's a great idea to use human interest as a way to explore history of the reparations, the abuse of minorities and juveniles by greedy men, racial prejudice, the oil boom, Indian Territory, and Oklahoma. I truly knew very little of what was in here so I'm glad to have the information but I felt like I read something that wasn't entirely different that what was promised.

Curricular connection - If you were teaching American history this could be a read aloud or supplemental title. I just would let the class know ahead of time that the title is misleading. ( )
  ECrowwwley | Apr 12, 2016 |
Another wonderful example of Tonya Bolden's remarkable ability to take a complex subject and make it accessible and fascinating. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
As any writer is delighted to discover -- or to be handed by a librarian -- an amazing story, Bolden acknowledes that she was intrigued by the notion of a poorblack girl from a poor family suddenly striking it rich. She painstakingly pieced together Sarah Rector's story from primary documents–news paper accounts, archives from historical societies, letters, and maps. Sarah and her sister's getting plots of lands, adults squandering some of that land away, and yet Sarah's staying in tact and discovery of oil. Then at 11 her disappearance. It's the stuff of mystery, and yet I wasn't enthralled and can't imagine the kids that would be enthralled. The joy of the search was all Bolden's. There wasn't enough discovery of voice for us to know Sarah Rector, so the story remains distant. I think Monica Edinger went through the same thing when she was researching the girl on the Amistad. Edinger's choice to go to historical fiction rather than, as she originally wanted and tried to to do pure nonficiton, resulted in a better book. I know this will get rave reviews. Unfortunately, I cannot add my own raves to everyone else's. ( )
  pataustin | Aug 30, 2014 |
This book sells the mystery of Sarah Rector disappearance on the front cover, but it really serves as a narrative of the relocation of the "Five Tribes," the conversion of Indian territories to individual allotments, and the effects of the oil boom on lucky landowners. It turns out that there was no disappearance of Sarah, but simply many false assumptions and dramatizations of Sarah's standing as the "richest black girl in America." It provides interesting insight into the celebrity of wealth, and the stereotypical assumptions that were made about land owners, families, and guardians. While little is actually known about Sarah's life, the story of her wealth is an interesting primer in other matters such as real estate holdings, oil leases, and investment. This could be an interesting study in both the history surrounding Sarah's story, and into research itself. How does one go about telling a story when there are very few details remaining? I enjoyed the book but had to "reset" my expectations that it was not a mystery!
  susan.mccourt | Mar 7, 2014 |
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Sarah Rector was born on March 3, 1902.
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Recounts the story of the 1914 disappearance of eleven-year-old Sarah Rector, an African American who was part of the Creek Indian people and whose land had made her wealthy, and what it reveals about race, money, and American society.

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