Schooling the Freed People: Teaching, Learning, and the Struggle for Black Freedom, 1861-1876

Schooling the Freed People: Teaching, Learning, and the Struggle for Black Freedom, 1861-1876

by Ronald E. Butchart
     
 

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The crowning achievement of a veteran scholar, this is the definitive book on freedmen's teachers in the South as well as an outstanding contribution to social history and our understanding of African American education. Conventional wisdom holds that freedmen's education was largely the work of privileged, single white northern women motivated by evangelical

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Overview

The crowning achievement of a veteran scholar, this is the definitive book on freedmen's teachers in the South as well as an outstanding contribution to social history and our understanding of African American education. Conventional wisdom holds that freedmen's education was largely the work of privileged, single white northern women motivated by evangelical beliefs and abolitionism. Schooling the Freed People shatters this notion entirely.

For the most comprehensive quantitative study of the origins of black education in freedom ever undertaken, Ronald E. Butchart combed the archives of all of the freedmen's aid organizations as well as the archives of every southern state to compile a vast database of over 11,600 individuals who taught in southern black schools between 1861 and 1876. Based on this path-breaking research, he reaches some surprising conclusions: one-third of the teachers were African Americans; black teachers taught longer than white teachers; half of the teachers were southerners; and even the northern teachers were more diverse than previously imagined. His evidence demonstrates that evangelicalism contributed much less than previously believed to white teachers' commitment to black students, that abolitionism was a relatively small factor in motivating the teachers, and that, on the whole, the teachers' ideas and aspirations about their work often ran counter to the aspirations of the freed people for schooling.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Schooling so long denied slaves became one of ex-slaves' strongest desires. It also represented what sympathetic, though often condescendingly paternalistic, whites thought blacks most needed to advance from slavery. Thousands hearkened to the call to teach freed people. Butchart (history & education, Univ. of Georgia; Northern Schools, Southern Blacks, and Reconstruction) has devoted a productive career to identifying what schools arose when and where for blacks in the South; under whose auspices; with what announced mission, methods, and curricula; and who taught what to which blacks for how long. Here, he masterfully caps his research and writing based on a meticulously constructed database identifying about 11,600 teachers in Southern black schools from 1861 through 1876. He documents the larger than previously acknowledged role of blacks who tended their own as one in three of all teachers in freed people's schools. He further exposes the clash between teachers' views and students' visions for their education and themselves, especially in the context of oppressive white supremacy. VERDICT This work promises to long be a touchstone for scholars and students of post-Civil War black education, of Reconstruction broadly, and of blacks' transition to actual freedom.—Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
From the Publisher
In this concise, cogently argued book, Ronald E. Butchart presents a convincing new portrait of the women and men who served as teachers of freedpeople across the American South during Reconstruction.—Journal of Southern History

An invaluable addition to the historiography of African American education during and after the Civil War. To date, this text offers the most in-depth analysis of the teachers of freed people.—American Historical Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807834206
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/27/2010
Edition description:
1
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Rich in detail and strongly documented, Schooling the Freed People argues persuasively for a more complex portrait of the first generation of teachers who actually taught in black schools. This new portrait will undoubtedly become the new consensus, the point of departure for future analyses of teachers in the Reconstruction era. Butchart radically reshapes our understanding of Reconstruction educators with this pathbreaking book.—James D. Anderson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

While historians' understanding of the period following the Civil War and of the plight of former slaves has undergone remarkable revisions in the past generation, our understanding of the education of freed children has remained in many ways unchanged, at least until this remarkable and groundbreaking study by Ronald Butchart. It would not be going too far to call this a masterpiece, bringing an entirely new perspective to the subject and culminating decades of research and writing.—Loren Schweninger, Elizabeth Rosenthal Excellence Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

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Meet the Author


Ronald E. Butchart is professor of history and education and affiliate faculty in the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia. He is a leading authority on the history of African American education.

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