Topics in African American Family History


Prof. Renee Romano


From: Renee Romano, INTERNET:rromano@wesleyan.edu DATE: 6/5/97 10:20 AM

AfAm 345/History 345/Wm Studies 345
Wednesdays 1:00-4:00
Fall 1997

Renee Romano                                    Office Hours:
PAC 416, x2497                                  Mondays 10:00-11:30 PAC 416
CAAS 232, x3579                                 Tuesdays 2:45-4:30 CAAS 232
Email: rromano@wesleyan                         and by appointment

In this upper level seminar, we will explore selected topics in African American family history from the formation of families during slavery to the current debates about the structure of black families in urban ghettos. Throughout the semester we will discuss different models for understanding African American family history and the various debates that have characterized the interpretation of that history. The course will examine the conditions under which black families had to function during different historical periods, how families adapted to difficult circumstances, the diversity among families within the African American community, and the affect of larger demographic, political and social changes on African American families.

Throughout the semester we will focus on the project of undertaking historical research on the family. What types of sources exist for writing histories of African American families? How can we uncover the historical voices of peoples who have often been silenced? Can we generalize from one person's experience to a more inclusive history of family development? This is a work-intensive course. Each student is required to write a significant research paper of 20-25 pages. There is also a reasonable amount of reading each week. The readings have been chosen with three goals in mind: 1) To introduce students to the history of African-American families; 2) To familiarize students with the major historiographical debates in the field; and 3) To demonstrate the various kinds of research methodologies that can be used to study family history (from quantitative demographic studies to qualitative case studies of single families).

Course Requirements:

  1. Attendance at the weekly class meetings and participation in class discussions is mandatory. If you must miss a class, you are expected to turn in a 4-5 page paper based on the readings for that week. If you miss more than one class without a medical excuse, you will be dropped from the class list.
  2. Each student will be assigned two weeks during the semester to write short papers (no more than three pages) on the readings. These papers are due the Monday before class meets at 4:30 p.m. I will make copies for the class which will be available by Tuesday morning. All students are expected to read the papers on that week's topic before coming to class on Wednesday afternoon. These papers will serve as the launching point for our discussion. Students not writing 3-page papers are required to submit a reading response at the beginning of each class. These responses should be your informal reactions to the readings and should be no more than one page. They might focus on the connections between the readings, issues the readings raised for you, or questions that you felt the readings did not address or answer. Guidelines for these papers will be handed out in class.
  3. The main requirement for the class is the 20-25 research paper on a topic of your choice related to African-American family history. These papers must be based on primary source research. As a class we will discuss how to do historical research and how to find secondary and primary sources on a given topic. Part of one of our class meetings will take place at Olin Library, where students will be introduced to the tools available for doing primary source research. In addition, there will be a variety of deadlines associated with the research paper throughout the semester:

October 15: A prospectus for your research paper is due in class. This should be a short statement of the you topic you will explore in your paper. We will discuss the prospectus more in class.

November 5: A bibliography for your paper (including both secondary and primary sources) is due in class.

December 3: Drafts of research papers are due in class. All students are required to give a short oral presentation about their research in class either on December 3 or December 10.

December 17: Final drafts of research papers are due by 10:00 a.m.

COURSE READINGS
The following books are available at Atticus and are on reserve at Olin:

Leon Dash, Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America (1996) Mamie Garvin Fields, Lemon Swamp and Other Places: A Memoir (1983) Henry Louis Gates, Colored People (1994) Gretchen Lemke-Santegelo, Abiding Courage: African American Migrant Women and the East Bay Community (1996) Paule Marshall, Brown Girl, Brownstones (1951) James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to his White Mother (1996)

There is also a course reader, which is available at the CAAS (items in the reader are designated with a * on the syllabus)

Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow has also been ordered as an optional textbook for the course. Students who have little background in African American history may want to read Jones for historical context

COURSE OUTLINE

September 10: Introduction

In our first class, we will discuss theoretical approaches to family history and the debates about the black family that dominate the field. Students will be asked to read and discuss several short pieces including: "The Moynihan Report" (1965), excerpts
John Hope Franklin, "African American Families: A Historical Note" in McAdoo, Black Families, pp. l 5-18
Niara Sudurkasa, "Value Premises Underlying Black Family Studies and Black Families" in The Strength of Our Mothers, pp. 3-11

September 17: Creation of the Black Family During Slavery: Family Structure and African Continuities

Alan Kulikoff, "Beginnings of the Afro-American Family" in Black Women in American History, Vol. 3, pp. 785-813*

Herbert Gutman, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, Chapter 8, pp. 327-360*

Niara Sudarkasa, "Interpreting the African Heritage in African American Family Organization" in The Strength of Our Mothers, pp. 123-141*

Christie Farnham, "Sapphire? The Issue of Dominance in the Slave Family, 1830-1865" in Black Women in American History, Vol. 2, pp. 369-384*

September 24: The Costs of Slavery: The Role and Place of Families

Larry Hudson, To Have and To Hold: Slave Work and Family Life in Antebellum South Carolina, (Introduction, Chapter 2, Chapter 4, Conclusion), pp. xix-xxii, 32-78, 141-184 [4 copies on reserve at Olin]

Norrece T. Jones, "The Threat of Sale: The Black Family as a Mechanism of Control" in Born a Child of Freedom, Yet a Slave, pp. 37-63*

Brenda Stevenson, "Distress and Discord in Virginia Slave Families, 1830-1860" in In Joy and Sorrow, pp. 103-124*

Nell Irvin Painter, "Soul Murder and Slavery: Toward a Fully Loaded Cost Accounting," in U.S. History as Women's History, pp. 125-146*

October 1: Emancipation: Building the Family as Institution

Ira Berlin, Steven Miller and Leslie Rowland, "Afro-American Families in the Transition from Slavery to Freedom" in Black Women in American History, Vol. 1, pp. 85-117*

Wilma King, "'There's a Better Day A-Coming': The Transition from Slavery to Freedom," in Stolen Childhood, pp. 141-167*

Sharon Ann Holt, "Making Freedom Pay: Freedpeople Working for Themselves, North Carolina, 1865-1900," Journal of Southern History, 60 (May 1994): 229-262*

Susan Mann, "Slavery, Sharecropping and Sexual Inequality" in We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible, pp. 281-302*

October 8: Black Families from the 1890s through the 1920s

Mamie Garvin Fields, Lemon Swamp and Other Places: A Memoir (entire)

Thomas Poole, "Black Families and the Black Church: A Sociohistorical Perspective" in Cheatham and Stewart, Black Families: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, pp. 33-40*

Sharon Harley, "For the Good of Family and Race: Gender, Work and Domestic Roles in the Black Community, 1890-1930," Signs 15 (Winter 1990): 336-349*

Film: Daughters of the Dust (time and place to be announced)

October 15: The Impact of Migration on African-American Families

Donna Franklin, "The Arduous Transition to the Industrial North" in Ensuring Inequality, pp. 72-95*

Herbert Gutman, excerpt from The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, pp. 453-456*

Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo, Abiding Courage: African-American Migrant Women and the East Bay Community (entire)

October 22: The Black Immigrant Experience: Caribbean Families in the United States

Robert Millette, "West Indian Families in the United States" in Cheatham and Stewart, Black Families: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, pp. 301-317*

Andrew Billingsley, "The Caribbean Connection" in Climbing Jacob's Ladder, pp. 262-274*

Paule Marshall, Brown Girl, Brownstones (entire)

October 29: The Growth of the Black Middle-Class in the 1960s and Beyond

Henry Louis Gates, Colored People

Andrew Billingsley, "From Working Class to Middle Class" in Climbing Jacob's Ladder, pp. 277-287

Beverly Tatum, "Out There Stranded? Black Families in White Communities" in McAdoo, Black Families, pp. 214-233

Film: A Raisin in the Sun (Time and Place TBA)

November 5: Discovering "Deviancy": Black Families, Public Policy and The Creation of an Urban "Underclass" in the 1960s

K. Sue Jewell, "Social Policy and Black Family Structure" in Survival of the Black Family, The Institutional Impact of U.S. Social Policy, pp. 11-34*

Nicholas Lemann, "The Origins of the Underclass," Part I, The Atlantic, June 1986, pp. 31-55*

Jacqueline Jones, "Southern Diaspora: Origins of the Northern 'Underclass'" in The Underclass Debate, pp. 27-54*

Mark Stern, "Poverty and Family Composition Since 1940" in The Underclass Debate, pp. 220-253*
November 12: Family Life in the "Underclass": A Look at the 1960s and the 1990s

Carol Stack, "Sex Roles and Survival Strategies in the Urban Black Community," in The Black Woman Cross-Culturally, pp. 349-368*

Leon Dash, Rose Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America (entire)

10. November 19: Beyond Traditional Types of Families

"'One Big Family'": Community and the Social Networks of Gay Black Men" and "'One of the Children': Being a Gay Black Man in Harlem" in One of the Children: Gay Black Men in Harlem

James McBride, The Color of Water (entire)

November 26: NO CLASS

December 3: Student Presentations of Research

December 10: Student Presentations of Research

>Dear Dr. Romano,
>Thanks very much for remembering H-Women w/your syllabus. Is it *possible* >for you to re-send it to me in ASCII Text, or can that be done on your end? >Will try sending your binary text to Melanie Shell at the website, but am >not sure she can receive it either.
>
>Thanks very much for your trouble.
>
>Maria Elena Raymond
>73113.1362@compuserve.com
>H-WOmen Web Page Co-Editor

Topics in African American Family History

AfAm 345/History 345/Wm Studies 345
Wednesdays 1:00-4:00
Fall 1997

Renee Romano                                    Office Hours:
PAC 416, x2497                                  Mondays 10:00-11:30 PAC 416
CAAS 232, x3579                                 Tuesdays 2:45-4:30 CAAS 232
Email: rromano@wesleyan                         and by appointment

In this upper level seminar, we will explore selected topics in African American family history from the formation of families during slavery to the current debates about the structure of black families in urban ghettos. Throughout the semester we will discuss different models for understanding African American family history and the various debates that have characterized the interpretation of that history. The course will examine the conditions under which black families had to function during different historical periods, how families adapted to difficult circumstances, the diversity among families within the African American community, and the affect of larger demographic, political and social changes on African American families.

Throughout the semester we will focus on the project of undertaking historical research on the family. What types of sources exist for writing histories of African American families? How can we uncover the historical voices of peoples who have often been silenced? Can we generalize from one person's experience to a more inclusive history of family development? This is a work-intensive course. Each student is required to write a significant research paper of 20-25 pages. There is also a reasonable amount of reading each week. The readings have been chosen with three goals in mind: 1) To introduce students to the history of African-American families; 2) To familiarize students with the major historiographical debates in the field; and 3) To demonstrate the various kinds of research methodologies that can be used to study family history (from quantitative demographic studies to qualitative case studies of single families).

Course Requirements:

  1. Attendance at the weekly class meetings and participation in class discussions is mandatory. If you must miss a class, you are expected to turn in a 4-5 page paper based on the readings for that week. If you miss more than one class without a medical excuse, you will be dropped from the class list.
  2. Each student will be assigned two weeks during the semester to write short papers (no more than three pages) on the readings. These papers are due the Monday before class meets at 4:30 p.m. I will make copies for the class which will be available by Tuesday morning. All students are expected to read the papers on that week's topic before coming to class on Wednesday afternoon. These papers will serve as the launching point for our discussion. Students not writing 3-page papers are required to submit a reading response at the beginning of each class. These responses should be your informal reactions to the readings and should be no more than one page. They might focus on the connections between the readings, issues the readings raised for you, or questions that you felt the readings did not address or answer. Guidelines for these papers will be handed out in class.
  3. The main requirement for the class is the 20-25 research paper on a topic of your choice related to African-American family history. These papers must be based on primary source research. As a class we will discuss how to do historical research and how to find secondary and primary sources on a given topic. Part of one of our class meetings will take place at Olin Library, where students will be introduced to the tools available for doing primary source research. In addition, there will be a variety of deadlines associated with the research paper throughout the semester:

October 15: A prospectus for your research paper is due in class. This should be a short statement of the you topic you will explore in your paper. We will discuss the prospectus more in class.

November 5: A bibliography for your paper (including both secondary and primary sources) is due in class.

December 3: Drafts of research papers are due in class. All students are required to give a short oral presentation about their research in class either on December 3 or December 10.

December 17: Final drafts of research papers are due by 10:00 a.m.

COURSE READINGS
The following books are available at Atticus and are on reserve at Olin:

Leon Dash, Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America (1996) Mamie Garvin Fields, Lemon Swamp and Other Places: A Memoir (1983) Henry Louis Gates, Colored People (1994) Gretchen Lemke-Santegelo, Abiding Courage: African American Migrant Women and the East Bay Community (1996) Paule Marshall, Brown Girl, Brownstones (1951) James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to his White Mother (1996)

There is also a course reader, which is available at the CAAS (items in the reader are designated with a * on the syllabus)

Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow has also been ordered as an optional textbook for the course. Students who have little background in African American history may want to read Jones for historical context

COURSE OUTLINE

September 10: Introduction

In our first class, we will discuss theoretical approaches to family history and the debates about the black family that dominate the field. Students will be asked to read and discuss several short pieces including: "The Moynihan Report" (1965), excerpts
John Hope Franklin, "African American Families: A Historical Note" in McAdoo, Black Families, pp. l 5-18 Niara Sudurkasa, "Value Premises Underlying Black Family Studies and Black

Families" in The Strength of Our Mothers, pp. 3-11

September 17: Creation of the Black Family During Slavery: Family Structure and African Continuities

Alan Kulikoff, "Beginnings of the Afro-American Family" in Black Women in American History, Vol. 3, pp. 785-813*

Herbert Gutman, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, Chapter 8, pp. 327-360*

Niara Sudarkasa, "Interpreting the African Heritage in African American Family Organization" in The Strength of Our Mothers, pp. 123-141*

Christie Farnham, "Sapphire? The Issue of Dominance in the Slave Family, 1830-1865" in Black Women in American History, Vol. 2, pp. 369-384*

September 24: The Costs of Slavery: The Role and Place of Families

Larry Hudson, To Have and To Hold: Slave Work and Family Life in Antebellum South Carolina, (Introduction, Chapter 2, Chapter 4, Conclusion), pp. xix-xxii, 32-78, 141-184 [4 copies on reserve at Olin]

Norrece T. Jones, "The Threat of Sale: The Black Family as a Mechanism of Control" in Born a Child of Freedom, Yet a Slave, pp. 37-63*

Brenda Stevenson, "Distress and Discord in Virginia Slave Families, 1830-1860" in In Joy and Sorrow, pp. 103-124*

Nell Irvin Painter, "Soul Murder and Slavery: Toward a Fully Loaded Cost Accounting," in U.S. History as Women's History, pp. 125-146*

October 1: Emancipation: Building the Family as Institution

Ira Berlin, Steven Miller and Leslie Rowland, "Afro-American Families in the Transition from Slavery to Freedom" in Black Women in American History, Vol. 1, pp. 85-117*

Wilma King, "'There's a Better Day A-Coming': The Transition from Slavery to Freedom," in Stolen Childhood, pp. 141-167*

Sharon Ann Holt, "Making Freedom Pay: Freedpeople Working for Themselves, North Carolina, 1865-1900," Journal of Southern History, 60 (May 1994): 229-262*

Susan Mann, "Slavery, Sharecropping and Sexual Inequality" in We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible, pp. 281-302*

October 8: Black Families from the 1890s through the 1920s

Mamie Garvin Fields, Lemon Swamp and Other Places: A Memoir (entire)

Thomas Poole, "Black Families and the Black Church: A Sociohistorical Perspective" in Cheatham and Stewart, Black Families: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, pp. 33-40*

Sharon Harley, "For the Good of Family and Race: Gender, Work and Domestic Roles in the Black Community, 1890-1930," Signs 15 (Winter 1990): 336-349*

Film: Daughters of the Dust (time and place to be announced)

October 15: The Impact of Migration on African-American Families

Donna Franklin, "The Arduous Transition to the Industrial North" in Ensuring Inequality, pp. 72-95*

Herbert Gutman, excerpt from The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, pp. 453-456*

Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo, Abiding Courage: African-American Migrant Women and the East Bay Community (entire)

October 22: The Black Immigrant Experience: Caribbean Families in the United States

Robert Millette, "West Indian Families in the United States" in Cheatham and Stewart, Black Families: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, pp. 301-317*

Andrew Billingsley, "The Caribbean Connection" in Climbing Jacob's Ladder, pp. 262-274*

Paule Marshall, Brown Girl, Brownstones (entire)

October 29: The Growth of the Black Middle-Class in the 1960s and Beyond

Henry Louis Gates, Colored People

Andrew Billingsley, "From Working Class to Middle Class" in Climbing Jacob's Ladder, pp. 277-287

Beverly Tatum, "Out There Stranded? Black Families in White Communities" in McAdoo, Black Families, pp. 214-233

Film: A Raisin in the Sun (Time and Place TBA)

November 5: Discovering "Deviancy": Black Families, Public Policy and The Creation of an Urban "Underclass" in the 1960s

K. Sue Jewell, "Social Policy and Black Family Structure" in Survival of the Black Family, The Institutional Impact of U.S. Social Policy, pp. 11-34*

Nicholas Lemann, "The Origins of the Underclass," Part I, The Atlantic, June 1986, pp. 31-55*

Jacqueline Jones, "Southern Diaspora: Origins of the Northern 'Underclass'" in The Underclass Debate, pp. 27-54*

Mark Stern, "Poverty and Family Composition Since 1940" in The Underclass Debate, pp. 220-253*

November 12: Family Life in the "Underclass": A Look at the 1960s and the 1990s

Carol Stack, "Sex Roles and Survival Strategies in the Urban Black Community," in The Black Woman Cross-Culturally, pp. 349-368*

Leon Dash, Rose Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America (entire)

10. November 19: Beyond Traditional Types of Families

"'One Big Family'": Community and the Social Networks of Gay Black Men" and "'One of the Children': Being a Gay Black Man in Harlem" in One of the Children: Gay Black Men in Harlem

James McBride, The Color of Water (entire)

November 26: NO CLASS

December 3: Student Presentations of Research

December 10: Student Presentations of Research


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