Reconstructing the Family Unit: Repairing Bonds Broken by Slavery

Last Updated by Kenyatta D. Berry on

In this blog post, Kenyatta D. Berry, J.D., discusses marriages of former slaves in Virginia and recounts her own family story.

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'Freedom of Matrimony': Celebrating Love in an Era of Emancipation

Last Updated by Anya Jabour on

Anya Jabour, Ph.D., explains that for emancipated African Americans, wedding celebrations offered one of the first opportunities to enjoy freedom.

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Nursing the Enemy

Last Updated by Jane Schultz on

In this blog post, Jane E. Schultz, Ph.D., details the relief work done by clergy and laypeople during the Civil War and the complex subject of nursing the enemy.

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'I Wanted to Do My Part': Women as Soldiers in Civil War America

Last Updated by Anya Jabour on

Anya Jabour, Ph.D., explores the multitude of women who dressed as men to fight—and die—in all the major battles of the Civil War.

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'The Freedmen’s Cause': African American Abolitionists

Last Updated by Anya Jabour on

Anya Jabour, Ph.D., explores the courage and perseverance of Harriet Jacobs.

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Charlotte Jenkins and Speaking Truth to Power

Last Updated by Audrey Davis on

Audrey P. Davis, Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, discusses the parallels between Charlotte Jenkins and real life abolitionists who challenged racism, slavery and the roles of women.

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Moses of Her People: Harriet Tubman and Runaway Slaves

Last Updated by Kenyatta D. Berry on

Genealogist Kenyatta D. Berry discusses the history of Harriet Tubman and how Charlotte Jenkins channels her strength in Mercy Street.

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Journeywomen of the Civil War

Posted by Jane Schultz on

Jane E. Schultz, Ph.D., explains how the growth of the railway and urgent need for qualified nursing staff during wartime led to an explosion in independent women traveling the United States.

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Southern Women as Secret Agents

Last Updated by Anya Jabour on

Anya Jabour, Ph.D., details how southern women frequently served as secret agents in the Civil War, using every means possible to demonstrate their patriotism—whether that meant supporting the Confederacy or remaining loyal to the Union.

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Is Anybody Looking? Runaway Slaves and the Refugee Crisis in Civil War America

Last Updated by Anya Jabour on

Anya Jabour, Ph.D., explains how most contraband camps were dismal if not downright dangerous places, and how Union authorities were unprepared for the influx of refugees—particularly those who could not be recruited into the ranks of the Union Army. From Fulton, Missouri, one Union captain wrote to his senior officer: “What are we to do with the women and children?”

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Contraband: The Ownership and Division of Human Beings

Posted by Kenyatta D. Berry on

Genealogist Kenyatta D. Berry looks at how the term "Contraband" came to be, and the hardship, and sometimes impossibility, of marriage during slavery.

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Charlotte Jenkins is the Metaphorical Balm in Gilead

Last Updated by Audrey Davis on

Audrey P. Davis, Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, discusses the significance of a new character in Season 2, Charlotte Jenkins, based off of the historic figure Harriet Jacobs.

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Dressing Up for War: Living Life in a Hoop Skirt and Corsets

Last Updated by Jane Schultz on

Jane E. Schultz, Ph.D., tells how dressing up as an extra for Mercy Street gave her new insights into the lives and restrictions of 19th century women.

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Sore Attachments

Last Updated by Jane Schultz on

In this blog post, Jane E. Schultz, Ph.D., examines the psychological impacts of the war on nurses, as seen with Nurse Mary in the Mercy Street Season Finale.

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Women’s Work and Sex Work in Nineteenth-Century America

Posted by Anya Jabour on

In this blog post, Anya Jabour, Ph.D., examines how the vast majority of self-supporting women continued to eke out an existence in the Civil War era.

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