Tera W. Hunter

marlene lopez

Tera W. Hunter is Professor of History and African American Studies at Princeton University. Hunter’s first book, To Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors After the Civil War, won the H. L. Mitchell Award from the Southern Historical Association, the Letitia Brown Memorial Book Prize from the Association of Black Women’s Historians and the Book of the Year Award in 1997 from the International Labor History Association. She is the author of Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (Belknap Press). Americans have long viewed marriage between a white man and a white woman as a sacred union. But marriages between African Americans have seldom been treated with the same reverence. Bound in Wedlock is the first comprehensive history of African American marriage in the nineteenth century. Uncovering the experiences of African American spouses in plantation records, legal and court documents, and pension files, Tera W. Hunter reveals the myriad ways couples adopted, adapted, revised, and rejected white Christian ideas of marriage. 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.