GREENSBURG — Anyone attending Saturday’s 2 p.m., free presentation of “Maggie Delaney: The story of an indentured servant” at the Greensburg-Decatur County Public Library might want to bring along a box of tissues.
Teen librarian and marketing specialist Lori Durbin has seen this one-woman show a couple times in the last two years. “I cried both times,” Durbin said. “It’s a very moving story; it’s a story you’ll find difficult to forget once you’ve been exposed to it.”
Durbin wanted to bring the show to the library last year, “but we were in the middle of a remodel,” she said.
Maggie Delaney is an Irish character played by storyteller Carol Jarboe. Durbin stressed that Maggie was never an actual person, but rather, is a fictional composite of “only a few of the known immigrants who came as indentured servants to the [American] colonies.”
The important aspect of Maggie’s story is that fact that it’s comprised of actual, true-life events, Durbin added.
“There’s not a whole lot known about the stories of indentured servants,” she continued. “We know about African Americans, but not a lot about indentured servants. A lot of them couldn’t write, so a lot of this stuff was passed down orally.”
The most compelling aspect of Maggie’s story is the ways in which it runs parallel to the lives and experiences of African American slaves in the American colonies. Indentured servitude, according to Durbin, was very similar to slavery.
Indentured servants signed contracts in their home countries to come to America. Frequently, the indentured were running away from debts. Many of them, however, simply didn’t understand, exactly, what they’d signed on for.
Indentured contracts typically were for between four and eight years. The hardships for the indentured started with the journey to America. “They didn’t come over in the lap of luxury,” Durbin said. “They were usually shipped over in a cargo hold; it was usually a pretty grueling trip.”