Equality by Degrees: Abolitionist Colleges and the Throes of Integration, 1833-1895
Bell, John Frederick
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CitationBell, John Frederick. 2017. Equality by Degrees: Abolitionist Colleges and the Throes of Integration, 1833-1895. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation examines how college communities shaped the progress of racial and gender equality in the nineteenth-century United States. It focuses on some of the first American institutions of higher learning to co-educate men and women of different races. Recovering the antislavery roots of impartial admissions, it charts the social experience of racial and gender integration across three representative institutions from the rise of immediate abolitionism in the 1830s to the ascent of Jim Crow in the 1890s. Case studies of student life at Oberlin, New York Central, and Berea illuminate how gender, religion, and reform politics affected these experiments in racial pluralism. Educational access did not automatically lead to social acceptance for black students, but shared living and learning experiences and a mutual commitment to emancipation helped build camaraderie across gender and color lines in the Civil War era. Progress stalled when whites who came of age thereafter no longer found common cause with their peers and began to ostracize African American classmates. By analyzing black resistance to discrimination, my dissertation reveals the origins of anti-racist activism by students of color in American higher education. Their calls to conscience continue to resound in today’s debates over diversity and inclusion on campus.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41140244
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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