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'Til Death or Distance Do Us Part: Love and Marriage in African America

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  • Format: Book
  • Published: 2009, Oxford University Press
  • ISBN: 978-0-19-532852-3
  • 224 pages
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Conventional wisdom tells us that marriage was illegal for African Americans during the antebellum era, and that if people married at all, their vows were tenuous ones: "until death or distance do us part." It is an impression that imbues beliefs about black families to this day. But it's a perception primarily based on documents produced by abolitionists, the state, or other partisans. It doesn't tell the whole story.

Drawing on a trove of less well-known sources including family histories, folk stories, memoirs, sermons, and especially the fascinating writings from the Afro-Protestant Press,'Til Death or Distance Do Us Part offers a radically different perspective on antebellum love and family life.

Frances Smith Foster applies the knowledge she's developed over a lifetime of reading and thinking. Advocating both the potency of skepticism and the importance of story-telling, her book shows the way toward a more genuine, more affirmative understanding of African American romance, both then and now.

About the Author: Frances Smith Foster

FRANCES SMITH FOSTER is Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Women's Studies at Emory University. Her specialties include African American family life, women's personal narratives, American literature and African American studies. She has edited or written more than a dozen books, including Love and Marriage in Early African America, Written By Herself: Literary Production by African American Women, 1746-1892 and Witnessing Slavery: The Development of the Ante-Bellum Slave Narrative. In 2011, Foster received the Gittler Prize from Brandeis University in recognition of her outstanding and lasting scholarly contributions to racial, ethnic, and religious relations.

Selected Publications by This Author



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