February 2, 2018  •  1PM  •  Chatham University

Women’s Leadership Lecture Series with Dr. Tera Hunter, Professor, History and Center for African American Studies, Princeton University

“Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century”

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.


Dr. 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.

Sponsored by: Chatham University Women’s Institute, The Heinz History Center, The Office of Multicultural Affairs, and The Black Student Union.

More information and registration here.