Crucible in the classroom: the freedpeople and their teachers, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1861-1876

Lee, Lauranett Lorraine, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia
Ayers, Edward, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia
Grizzard Jr., Frank E., Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia
Aron, Cindy, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia
Wagoner, Jennings, University of Virginia

This study examines connections between emancipation, education, and identity. It explores the impact of freedom by recovering the daily lives of African Americans and their teachers in Charlottesville, Virginia, between 1861 and 1876. Both freed people and teachers learned to reshape their private aspirations while making sacrifices and concessions. The papers of two teachers sponsored by the New England Freedmen's Aid Society, Philena Carkin and Anna Gardner, provide the foundation for this study.

Three studies in particular inform my investigation. Rehearsal for Reconstruction (1964) by Willie Lee Rose examines the people of Port Royal at a crucial moment in American history. Lawrence Levine discusses the belief and value systems of enslaved people in Black Culture and Black Consciousness (1977). Leon Litwack's Been in the Storm So Long (1979) addresses the freedpeople's struggles from a regional perspective. These studies illuminate the paths freedpeople walked as they moved toward a new way of being in the world.

Exploring the world behind the words, asking questions of the sources, and listening to the multiple answers that arise became the methodology upon which this study was founded. My intent is to recover the daily devotion to freedom. Trailing the freed people and their teachers as they move about Charlottesville, looking at their local world when more people began to have new opportunities, and considering the link between education and identity offers a great deal of room to roam.

Moving beyond an examination of race, class, and gender, this study examines the era in terms of reconstructing the self. Both freed people and female schoolteachers willingly built new lives for themselves. My focus on a small group of people recovers both collective and individual distinctions within the emancipatory experience. Hence, this study is a process of seeing individuals with memories, dreams, hopes, and fears.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-03-14 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:37:48.

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