Date of Award

2003

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Advisor

Marli F. Weiner

Second Committee Member

Liam Riordan

Third Committee Member

Mazie Hough

Abstract

Evangelical Christianity swept through the South during the nineteenth century, permeating and redefining all aspects of social and cultural life. The traditional way to study this subject is through the history of the conversion of white women and African Americans, the power and expansion of certain denominations, and slaves' widespread use of religion as resistance. Yet something is missing within this history of Southern evangelical religion -the unique experience of African American women. This thesis addresses their experience, indicating that slave women found creative ways to assert their authority within immediate families and in their community. The study specifically focuses upon the conversion experience of slave women, the role of mothers as religious mentors in the family, and the extension of this role into the entire slave community. It also explores the interactions between white women and slave women in the Southern evangelical society. The sources are drawn from former slave narratives gathered by Fisk University in Tennessee and the Works Progress Administration's Federal Writers' Project.

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