The collective identities of women teachers in black schools in the post-bellum South
Davis, Christina Lenore
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The historical focus on women’s work as school teachers rather than on their identities as activists, missionaries, social critics, and as women has minimized the realities of life for women who taught in schools for the freed people during and after the Civil War. Ellen Garrison Jackson, Sallie Louise Daffin, Rebecca Primus, and Carrie Marie Blood, black and white women teachers who taught black southerners during the Civil War and Reconstruction, fought for citizenship rights, championed morality, bridged the information gap between Americans in the North and South, and challenged contemporary ideas toward race and gender. The collective biography approach works well for teachers because it fosters a deeper analysis of marginalized groups, nineteenth-century women in this case. Each woman’s narrative highlights the complexities of the women’s lives by exploring their experiences in the South beyond the duties associated with their positions as teachers. Exploring teachers’ work, not simply as educators, but as individuals who faced new and challenging experiences, fosters a more detailed understanding of the dynamics of teaching in the South.