"Endearing Ties": Black Family Life in Early New England
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CitationWhiting, Gloria McCahon. 2016. "Endearing Ties": Black Family Life in Early New England. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation explores the attempts of Africans, both enslaved and free, to create and maintain families in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century New England. It makes sense of a remarkable array of historical actors: men like Thomas Bedunah, who plotted a surprising course for his descendants when he chose a spouse of English descent; women like Cuba Vassall, who let her husband secure her firmly in bondage at the very moment the region’s blacks were being freed en masse; and a pair like Mark and Phoebe, who fed their master porridge laced with “Potter’s Lead” in hopes that his death would enable them to find owners closer to their distant families. Pulling together thousands of fragments of evidence, this dissertation contextualizes the everyday lives and beleaguered intimacies of these Africans and many others, revealing patterns in their living situations, gendered relationships, and kin communities that historians have never before recognized. At the same time, the project advances historical arguments related to a range of issues, from the relationship between family and freedom in early New England to the influence of patriarchy on enslaved kin groups in Anglo-America. The project sets forth methodological arguments as well. Contending that historical method has an important bearing on the ability of scholars to understand and portray slaves as fully human, with complete life spans and complicated contexts, “Endearing Ties” makes a case for the importance of reconstructing the lives and trajectories of enslaved individuals in great depth, despite the archival challenges that such an undertaking inevitably entails.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493445
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