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Jerma A. Jackson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1350)
Born in Slavery, Aging in Modern America, 1900-1940

A book examining how former slaves and their freeborn contemporaries adjusted to the changes of a modernizing and industrializing America.

My project concentrates on aging former slaves and their freeborn contemporaries in the post-slavery modern era and considers their experiences and knowledge spanning the 19th and 20th centuries. How did these elders perceive and cope with mass education, racial violence and increased incarceration of African Americans, developments that all unfolded in the early twentieth century? I turn to a diverse array of materials—court records, memoirs and material culture--to probe the range of feelings elders had about transformations in their families, their communities and society. These materials contain stories and anecdotes, many quite fragmented. The book brings texture and context to the stories, allowing audiences to enter the households and neighborhoods of aging former slaves where they made sense of the thorny challenges brought on by industrialization. Audiences gain fresh insights about the early twentieth and about a group of African Americans often neglected in scholarship.

Project fields:
African American History; Cultural History; U.S. History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2017 – 6/30/2018