Black, white, and sunday school
Rohrer, Katherine Elizabeth
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This thesis examines the relationships among antebellum southern slaveholding women, their bondmen, and religion—considering that experience both in reality and in memory. It considers these relationships across the South in settings of various sizes and economic complexities. In particular, it describes the plantation mistress role as religious educator and the frustrations related to it as well as the slaves’ receptions to, and opinions of, these efforts. This thesis argues three broad points: 1) antebellum slaveholding women felt morally and socially obligated to evangelize their slaves despite many difficulties, 2) antebellum bondmen generally identified negative relationships with mistresses with regard to religious instruction, and 3) both ex-slaveholding women and ex-bondmen remembered their shared religious experiences more positively than they described them in their antebellum sources. Findings are based upon: mistress diaries, nineteenth-century slave narratives, post-bellum mistress memoirs, and the Works Progress Administration slave narratives.