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From the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, dramatic accounts of European and American explorers and settlers held captive by pirates, indigenous peoples, and other “uncivilized” groups were published and popularly consumed by Western readers. Often presented as autobiographies, these stories of conflict and hardship—usually concluding with religious redemption—captured the imaginations of generations of colonists. Sometimes of dubious historical credence, these captivity narratives serve more as a valuable witness to Westerners’ conception of their own culture and the construction of “the other” in the collective consciousness.

The Classic American Captivity Narratives collection compiles nine of the most important of these tales. Among them is the genre’s seminal work , A Narrative of the Captivity, Sufferings, and Removes of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, the account of a colonial American who was taken prisoner in 1675, during King Philip’s war, and held for 11 weeks. Other works include narratives of the sailor Robert Adams, who was enslaved in North Africa for three years and claimed to have visited Timbuktu, and the Puritan minister John Williams—the uncle of Jonathan Edwards—who was taken captive along with his family by the French allied Mohawk tribe. Students of sociology, history, and literature will appreciate these valuable early American perspectives.

In the Logos edition, these valuable volumes are enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Nine archetypal volumes in the captivity-narrative tradition
  • Valuable window into early American culture and sociology
  • A variety of sixteenth- to nineteenth-century American perspectives

Individual Titles

A Narrative of the Captivity, Sufferings, and Removes of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

  • Author: Mary Rowlandson
  • Publisher: H. O. Houghton & Co.
  • Publication Date: 1856
  • Pages: 132

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

A Narrative of the Captivity, Sufferings, and Removes of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson is the seminal American captivity narrative. A colonial American, Mary Rowlandson was taken captive with her three children during King Philip’s War. During their captivity, her youngest daughter succumbed to her wounds. Rowlandson describes the conditions of her captivity in visceral detail. After 11 weeks of breathless travel, she was ransomed for 20 pounds. Her narrative was gained immediately popularity and is often regarded as the first American bestseller.

Mary Rowlandson (1637–1711) was a colonial American woman who was captured with her children by Native Americans during King Philip’s war. Rowlandson was born in Somersetshire, England before her family settled in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Narrative of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

  • Author: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
  • Translator: Buckingham Smith
  • Publisher: Buckingham Smith
  • Publication Date: 1851
  • Pages: 166

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The Narrative of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca relates Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s experiences on Galveston Island, where he ship wrecked with three members of his crew. For nine years they “wandered lost and miserable over many remote islands.” During this time—some of which was spent in bondage to Native Americans in order to survive—Cabeza de Vaca took careful note of the culture and customs of Native American societies. The narrative of his captivity stands out amongst others for its precise and verifiable detail, as well as the respect and compassion he showed to all the peoples he encountered.

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1488–1558) was a Spanish explorer and early anthropologist. He was one of four survivors of the 1527 Narváez expedition. He traveled across the modern US for nine years before reuniting with Spanish forces in Mexico. He died in poverty in Seville after a failed stint in colonial administration.

The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion: The Captivity and Deliverance of Rev. John Williams of Deerfield

  • Author: John Williams
  • Publisher: H. R. Huntington Company
  • Publication Date: 1908
  • Pages: 250

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion documents the reverend John Williams’ captivity during Queen Anne’s War. In 1704 Williams’ town of Deerfield was raided by French allied Iroquois. Two of Williams’ children were killed in the raid and he and the rest of his family were taken prisoner. His wife was killed on the raiding party’s journey to Canada. He records much of their journey and French colonial life. He and four of his children were released in 1706, but his daughter Eunice was adopted by an Iroquois family and eventually assimilated into the tribe. Williams’ narrative influenced James Fennimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans. The sermons Williams preached upon his return is also included in this volume.

John Williams (1664–1729) was a Puritan minister in New England and the uncle of Jonathan Edwards. He was born in Roxbury, Massachusets. and attended Harvard College. He was the first pastor of Deerfield, which was raided by French allied Irroquois during Queen Anne’s War. He and his family were taken captive. He recorded his experiences as a prisoner in The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion.

A Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson

  • Author: Susannah Willard Johnson
  • Publisher: Thomas M. Pomrot
  • Publication Date: 1814
  • Pages: 188

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

A Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson was published 40 years after her release. Nevertheless, it is counted among the most accurate of the captivity narratives, and its riveting narration made it one of the most popular as well. It covers her and her family’s capture during the French and Indian War. Nine months pregnant at the time, she gave birth on the first full day of their capture. She describes the Native Americans as having treated the prisoners decently, while she describes the conditions of a French jail as “too shocking for description.”

Susannah Willard Johnson (1729–1810) was a colonial American woman who was a prisoner of war with her family for three years during the French and Indian War. After her release, she kept a small store on her deceased husband’s estate to support her family until she remarried.

The Adventures of John Jewitt

  • Author: John Jewitt
  • Editor: Robert Brown
  • Publisher: Clement Wilson
  • Publication Date: 1896
  • Pages: 274

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The Adventures of John Jewitt is a classic American captivity narrative in which John Jewitt recounts his 28-month experience as a captive of the Nootka people. Jewitt’s account has been regarded as among the more accurate captivity narratives and provides insight into the societies of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Jewitt partially assimilated into Nootka culture, learning some of the language and even marrying into the tribe.

John Jewitt (1783–1821) was an armorer who was held captive for over two years by the Nootka people in modern day Canada.

The Narrative of Robert Adams

  • Author: Robert Adams
  • Publisher: Wells and Lilly
  • Publication Date: 1817
  • Pages: 222

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In The Narrative of Robert Adams, Robert Adams recounts his experiences after he was shipwrecked in North Africa and enslaved. The Narrative recounts Adams’ visit to Timbuktu, which, if true, would make him the first Westerner to have visited the city. He describes the legendary city as of no particular note, and his account was largely disregarded by a Western audience who had been led to believe it was an African El Dorado, a city of gold.

Robert Adams (1790– c. 1815) was an American sailor who spent three years as a slave in North Africa. He was perhaps the first Westerner to visit Timbuktu.

A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner

  • Author: John Tanner
  • Editor: Edwin James
  • Publisher: G. & C. & H. Carvill
  • Publication Date: 1830
  • Pages: 445

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner, John Tanner recounts his experience as a thoroughly assimilated white member of the Shawnee. He was captured at age 10, having little contact with anyone outside the Shawnee for over a decade. He came to speak only the Saulteaux language, married into the tribe, and became an accomplished hunter and warrior.

John Tanner (1780– c. 1846) was an American writer and frontiersman. He was captured at the age of 10 by members of the Shawnee nation and fully assimilated, marrying a Shawnee woman and becoming an accomplished hunter and warrior. He disappeared in 1846 while working as an interpreter on the frontier.

The Rachel Plummer Narrative

  • Author: Rachel Plummer
  • Editor: James Parker
  • Publisher: Rachel Lofton, Susie Hendrix and Jane Kennedy
  • Publication Date: 1926
  • Pages: 134

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The Rachel Plummer Narrative provides an account of the authors 21 months spent in captivity by the Comanche tribe. Captured at age 17, Rachel Plummer write in considerable detail about the Comanche mindset and lifestyle. Her account is one of the few sources of information available on Comanche culture before they were ravaged by disease and war.

Rachel Plummer (1818–1839) was an American woman who was kidnapped with her son at the age of 17. She was held prisoner for 21 months. She died shortly after her return, at age 20.

A Narrative of the Adventures and Sufferings of Matthew Brayton

  • Author: Matthew Brayton
  • Publisher: The Gray Printing Company
  • Publication Date: 1826
  • Pages: 88

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

A Narrative of the Adventures and Sufferings of Matthew Brayton is one of the last significant American captivity narratives. It details the life of Matthew Brayton during his 34 years with the Wyandot people.

Matthew Brayton (1818–1863) was captured by the Wyandot people at the age of seven. He spent 34 years with the Wyandot people. He returned to his family in 1859 and joined the Michigan cavalry in 1862. He was killed in the Battle of Stones River, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee during the Civil War.

Product Details

  • Title: Classic American Captivity Narratives
  • Volumes: 9
  • Pages: 1,899