Cover image for Days of Jubilee : the end of slavery in the United States
Days of Jubilee : the end of slavery in the United States
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
viii, 134 p. : ill. ; 27 cm.
Reading Level:
1040 L Lexile
Added Author:
Uses slave narratives, letters, diaries, military orders, and other documents to chronicle the various stages leading to the emancipation of slaves in the United States.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 973.7 MCK 1 1
Book Q J 973.7 MCK 1 1

On Order



The McKissacks introduce young readers to the pivotal events leading up to and including the long awaited and glorious Days of Jubilee.

For two and a half centuries African-American slaves sang about, prayed for, and waited on their long anticipated freedom -- a day of Jubilee. But freedom didn't come for slaves at the same time. DAYS OF JUBILEE chronicles the various stages of U.S. emancipation beginning with those slaves who were freed for their service during the Revolutionary War, to those who were freed by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Using slave narratives, letters, diaries, military orders, and other documents, the McKissacks invite young readers to celebrate coming freedom and the Days of Jubilee.

Author Notes

Patricia C. McKissack was born in Smyrna, Tennessee on August 9, 1944. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Tennessee State University in 1964 and a master's degree in early childhood literature and media programming from Webster University in 1975. After college, she worked as a junior high school English teacher and a children's book editor at Concordia Publishing.

Since the 1980's, she and her husband Frederick L. McKissack have written over 100 books together. Most of their titles are biographies with a strong focus on African-American themes for young readers. Their early 1990s biography series, Great African Americans included volumes on Frederick Douglass, Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson. Their other works included Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers and Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States. Over their 30 years of writing together, the couple won many awards including the C.S. Lewis Silver Medal, a Newbery Honor, nine Coretta Scott King Author and Honor awards, the Jane Addams Peace Award, and the NAACP Image Award for Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman?. In 1998, they received the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

She also writes fiction on her own. Her book included Flossie and the Fox, Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt, A Friendship for Today, and Let's Clap, Jump, Sing and Shout; Dance, Spin and Turn It Out! She won the Newberry Honor Book Award and the King Author Award for The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural in 1993 and the Caldecott Medal for Mirandy and Brother Wind. She dead of cardio-respiratory arrest on April 7, 2017 at the age of 72.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-In this readable, well-organized book, the McKissacks make extensive use of firsthand slave narratives collected in the 1930s. As well as documenting the gradual end of slavery, they discuss many other historic events and controversies, using the viewpoints recorded in Southerner Mary Chestnut's Civil War diary and other primary sources. Brief descriptions of the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the unequal treatment of African Americans by whites in both the North and the South after slavery ended, and the progress made by the civil rights movement are included. A sidebar erroneously states that "-a slave ship-docked in Mobile Harbor at night on July 9, 1866.-Fowler couldn't sell the slaves, so when the Civil War began, he set the captives free." The book is illustrated with many historical duotone photographs and engravings, but there is no map showing the battles described in the text. Readers familiar with Civil War history will be fascinated by the wealth of information on African Americans' contributions to the war effort, but those researching only the end of slavery may feel overwhelmed by tangential accounts of battles and military leaders. A useful resource for most collections.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

"There wasn't one day when all the slaves were freed at the same time," write the McKissacks (Rebels Against Slavery) in this compelling chronicle of slavery's demise in America. "Whenever slaves learned they were free, that day became their Jubilee." The authors begin with the tenuous compromises made after the Revolutionary War and underscore historical events by weaving extensive quotes from slave narratives and the stories of contemporary persons. They include not only the famous, such as President Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, but also citizens such as James Forten, an African-American businessman who "was shocked and dismayed when the United States Constitution was ratified without abolishing slavery" and who worked actively as an abolitionist throughout his life. Sideline perspectives like that of Southern slaveholder Mary Chestnut, whose diary documents her views on the Civil War, offer additional texture. Tinted sidebars provide expanded profiles, including that of Philip Coleman, an enslaved coachman who "prided himself on being a gentleman's gentleman" until he witnesses the death of white men at the hands of Union soldiers, and realizes that "his master is not invincible as once he'd thought" and runs away. The McKissacks ably balance the nation's gradual progress with heartrending examples of prejudice even after the Civil War that illustrate how far the nation still needed to go to achieve true equality. The inclusion of individual voices and life stories lends this well-researched overview of emancipation a sense of immediacy and relevance for today's readers. Ages 8-12. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

This account of the historical events that led to the emancipation of slaves and the end of the Civil War is unfocused and superficial. Personal narratives, extracts from diaries, and other documents (some of which don't include sources) presented as boxed text are meant to add depth and authenticity but more frequently are merely distracting. Timeline. Bib., ind. From HORN BOOK Fall 2003, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. As this book clearly shows, there was no single day when slavery ended in the U.S. but a series of dates when groups and individual slaves celebrated their own "days of Jubilee." The discussion begins after the Revolutionary War, when many of the African Americans who had fought were freed, but it quickly moves on to the Civil War era. Each chapter begins with a quotation from a historical document, followed by a boxed story that tells, for example, of a slave family escaping to the Union army or a Boston church congregation receiving word that Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The quotations are sourced (though often identified only as "slave narrative"), but no source notes are given for the boxed narratives, which occasionally seem lightly fictionalized. The McKissacks do a remarkable job of explaining Civil War history as it relates to the end of slavery, and their lively account presents the war and its consequences in very human terms. For instance, it relates that in New York when, for the first time in history, photographs of the dead and dying soldiers on a battlefield went on display, "people cried out in horror." The balanced perspective, vivid telling, and well-chosen details give this book an immediacy that many history books lack. Illustrations include reproductions of many period photographs as well as paintings, prints, and documents, and a time line and a bibliography are appended. --Carolyn Phelan