No study of American history can be considered complete without dealing with the history and legacy of slavery in American life. From the earliest Colonial period up to the present day, slavery and its repercussions have affected almost every aspect of our nation’s story. One unique account of slavery’s history and legacy is provided by Edward Ball in his book Slaves in the Family (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998, reissued in paperback, 2014). Ball is a descendent of Elias Ball, who emigrated from Devon, England to Charleston, South Carolina in 1698. The Ball family owned nearly 4,000 human beings during their 167 years as a slave dynasty. More than a hundred years later, Edward Ball would move back to a dilapidated ancestral home in Charleston and begin an ambitious quest, charting not only his own genealogy but also that of the family’s slaves, tracing their ancestry back to the first African captives. The book details Bell’s subsequent travels throughout the United States to meet their descendants, some of whom are his distant cousins. His resulting account, a National Book Award winner, provides us with an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of this “peculiar institution”.