cover of book

Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century
by Tera W. Hunter
Harvard University Press, 2017
Cloth: 978-0-674-04571-2 | Paper: 978-0-674-23745-2 | eISBN: 978-0-674-97920-8
Library of Congress Classification E185.86.H86 2017
Dewey Decimal Classification 390.25097309034


Winner of the Stone Book Award, Museum of African American History
Winner of the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize
Winner of the Littleton-Griswold Prize
Winner of the Mary Nickliss Prize
Winner of the Willie Lee Rose Prize

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. This discriminatory legacy traces back to centuries of slavery, when the overwhelming majority of black married couples were bound in servitude as well as wedlock, but it does not end there. Bound in Wedlock is the first comprehensive history of African American marriage in the nineteenth century. Drawing from plantation records, legal documents, and personal family papers, it reveals the many creative ways enslaved couples found to upend white Christian ideas of marriage.

“A remarkable book… Hunter has harvested stories of human resilience from the cruelest of soils… An impeccably crafted testament to the African-Americans whose ingenuity, steadfast love and hard-nosed determination protected black family life under the most trying of circumstances.”
Wall Street Journal

“In this brilliantly researched book, Hunter examines the experiences of slave marriages as well as the marriages of free blacks.”

“A groundbreaking history… Illuminates the complex and flexible character of black intimacy and kinship and the precariousness of marriage in the context of racial and economic inequality. It is a brilliant book.”
—Saidiya Hartman, author of Lose Your Mother

See other books on: Free African Americans | Marriage | Marriage & Family | Nineteenth Century | Slaves
See other titles from Harvard University Press
Nearby on shelf for United States / Elements in the population / Afro-Americans: