This was my very first publication in a journal based at the University of Arkansas for advancing undergraduate and graduate papers. It can be read in PDF form online, “The Laboring Family Through Rebellion and Reconstruction.”
Historians studying women and gender during Reconstruction have uncovered a wealth of connections between society, culture, politics, labor, and economics. One theme has emerged as crucial through many of these works, yet has no single study considers how the relationship between labor and the family was transformed by war, the emancipation of slaves, and reconciliation. How did emancipation and the rise of a pseudo-capitalist labor system in the South transform the ways families supported themselves? To what extent was self-sufficient agriculture transformed by the introduction of millions of potential landowners into an agricultural economy? Most historians take for granted the importance of family in the subsistence of its members in their attempt to better understand other relevant aspects of history such as politics, race, or labor. I argue that the ability of the households to subsist through slavery, civil war, social upheaval, wanton violence, exploitative employers, and other destructive forces warrants a closer look.