Home > Black History Month Lecture: Bound in Wedlock

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The African American Program of the Senator John Heinz History Center will hold

its fourth annual Black History Month Lecture featuring Dr. Tera W. Hunter, professor

in the History Department and the Department of African American Studies at

Princeton University. 

Dr. Hunter will speak on her new book, “Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free

Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century.” It is the first comprehensive history

of marriage among African Americans in the 19th century. Setting their own

standards for conjugal relationships, enslaved husbands and wives were

creative and, of necessity, practical in starting and supporting families

under conditions of uncertainty and cruelty. Laws passed during Reconstruction,

ostensibly to secure the civil rights of newly freed African American citizens,

were often coercive and repressive. Informal antebellum traditions of marriage

were criminalized, and the new legal regime became a convenient tool for

plantation owners to discipline agricultural workers. Recognition of the

right of African Americans to enter into wedlock on terms equal to whites

would remain a struggle into the Jim Crow era, and its legacy would resonate

well into the twentieth century.


Admission to this event is free, but does not include access to museum exhibitions.

Please register below.

For more information, please contact Samuel W Black, Director of African American

Programs, at 412-454-6391 or swblack@heinzhistorycenter.org.



Dr. Tera W. HunterDr. Tera W. Hunter specializes in African

American history and gender in the 19th

and 20th centuries. Her research has

focused on African American women and

labor in the South during that period. Her

first book, “To ‘Joy My Freedom: Southern

Black Women’s Lives and Labors After the

Civil War,” focuses on the experiences of

working-class women, especially domestic

workers, in Atlanta and other southern cities

from Reconstruction through the 1920s. The

book won several awards, including the

H. L. Mitchell Award in 1998 from the Southern Historical Association; the Letitia

Brown Memorial Book Prize in 1997 from the Association of Black Women’s

Historians; and the Book of the Year Award in 1997 from the International Labor

History Association.

She has taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at Carnegie

Mellon University. She has received numerous fellowships and grants, including

a Mary I. Bunting Institute fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced

Study at Harvard University from 2005 to 2006; a Rockefeller Foundation Humanities

Fellowship from the Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis

from 2001 to 2002; and a Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Fellowship at the

National Museum of American History from 1993 to 1994.

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