One of my students is writing her senior thesis on the use by some enslaved African-American women of contraception and abortion, and their functions as forms of resistance. While she has found some primary sources in slave narratives in archives at Howard, Emory, and the Smithsonian, we are asking the list's help in locating others. We suspect they are hard to find because of taboos and ideologies around issues of family and its significance in abolitionist rhetoric, voluntary vs. coerced sex, and the embarrassment or ignorance interviewers may have suffered when asking former slaves for intimate details of their lives. Any comments on these issues or any others that list members see lurking ahead are welcome. The richest but most elusive sources have been the legal cases in which slaveholders brought their bondswomen to trial for abortion and/or infanticide, and we are particularly eager to discover more of these.
DuCill, Ann "'Othered Matters': Reconceptualizing Dominance and Difference in the History of Sexuality", Journal of the History of Sexuality 1.1 (1990) :102-130
Genovese, Eugene Roll, Jordan, Roll
Grimke, Angelina "Rachel"...19th century play written for the Sanger journal
Gutman, The Black Family in Slavery
Hine, Darlene Clark, ed. We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible essay on black women & birth control
Hine, Darlene Clark and Kate Wittenstein "Female Slave Resistance", Steady
Scott, James Domination and the Arts of Resistance (Yale U Press, 1990)
Smith, Barbara, Patricia Bell Scott and Gloria T. Hull, eds. But Some of Us Are Brave
Villarosa, Linda, ed. Body and Soul
White, Deborah G. Ar'n't I A Woman
White, Evelyn,ed. The Black Woman's Health Book
Search of the medline
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology from early 1870s...Index Medicus should have it
The Black Woman Cross-Culturally
Return to H-Women Home Page.