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.

Read More

'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.

Read More

Until Death or Distance: Romance and Marriage Among Contrabands

Posted by Audrey Davis on

Audrey P. Davis, Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, discusses the customs and challenges of marriage during slavery.

Read More

African American Men in the Union Medical Service

Last Updated by Jane Schultz on

In this blog post, Jane Schultz, Ph.D., gives some background to Samuel Diggs' character by examining the real-life African American men who practiced medicine as surgeons during the Civil War.

Read More

Code-switching and Fluidity as a Strategy for Survival

Last Updated by Audrey Davis on

Audrey P. Davis, Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, discusses the coping mechanisms African American characters must employ to survive plot twists and power struggles in Mercy Street.

Read More

Roots of Resistance

Last Updated by Kenyatta D. Berry on

Genealogist Kenyatta D. Berry discusses slave resistance in the Colonies and Caribbean, and how education and resistance later went hand-in-hand.

Read More

Making a Change: Educating Former Slaves

Last Updated by Anya Jabour on

Anya Jabour, Ph.D., explains that even though they were denied education in slavery, African Americans were determined to have it in freedom.

Read More

Education: The Foundation of Freedom

Last Updated by Kenyatta D. Berry on

Genealogist Kenyatta D. Berry discusses how education for newly freed African American families was a gateway to a better life.

Read More

African American Firsts in Medicine: Setting the Standard for Future Generations

Last Updated by Audrey Davis on

Audrey P. Davis, Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, discusses the history of the first African American doctors to practice in the United States.

Read More

'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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Reconstructing the Nation’s Memory of the Civil War

Posted by Jim Downs on

Jim Downs is an associate professor of history at Connecticut College. In this blog post, Downs details the true history of the Reconstruction period.

Read More

Frederick Douglass, American Citizen

Last Updated by Jane Schultz on

Jane E. Schultz, Ph.D., explores the rise of Frederick Douglass from slave to author, abolitionist, suffragist, and citizen.

Read More

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?”

Read More

Streaming on:

Your purchase supports PBS and helps make our programming possible.

Support your local PBS station

PBS Learning Media