Religion and the Black family in the Mississippi Valley, 1865-1877

Black, Jennifer E (2003) Religion and the Black family in the Mississippi Valley, 1865-1877. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation is to discover the influence of religion in the black family in the Mississippi Valley in the Reconstruction period (1865-1877), specifically focussing on Louisiana. The contemporary controversy over the problems facing black families in the United States creates a need for reassessment of the historical development of black people, which this study aims in part to answer. Reconstruction was a transition period during which black people who had been slaves adjusted to free society, and it is a period important to understanding the consequences of slavery and the future of blacks in the United States. Religion is a route into the study of black family nature and structure, as the churches attempted to play a role in shaping black lives after emancipation. Slavery was viewed as detrimental to normal family development, and the attitudes of church leaders towards marriage, parenting, the treatment of children demonstrates the influence the church hoped to have over the black family. A comparison with another institution trying to influence black people as they became free in Louisiana, The Freedmen's Bureau, offers an insight into the position of the church in the black community, which has often been described as "unique". This study will examine the attitudes of black people, towards religion and family relationships, and show the true influence of institutions on black lives in Louisiana in Reconstruction. The sources used in this study include the WPA slave narratives, newspapers, letters of the churches, baptism and marriage records and records of Louisiana's Freedmen's Bureau. Through these sources it is possible to surmise that the black family was not weak when it emerged from slavery, and today's problems do not find their route in black people's inability to adjust to freedom. Religion was part of the process through which black people in Louisiana drew identity and autonomy. Louisiana is a state that illustrates the variation in black religion, because of the influence of Catholicism, and this prompts a reassessment of claims of homogeneity in black religion. By connecting the black family with black religion this study brings together distinct strands of thought on black history, with the aim of providing a different outlook on debates with resonance in America today.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Phillips O'Brien
Keywords: American history, Black history, Religion, Individual & family studies
Date of Award: 2003
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2003-71883
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:31
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 09:31
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71883

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