ERIC Number: ED246394
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983
Reference Count: 0
Southern Blacks: Accounts of Learning to Read before 1861.
Herman, Patricia A.
Since the earliest days of slavery until the Civil War, some form of education existed for blacks in the United States. Many slaveholders were motivated by religious beliefs to let their slaves learn to read, particularly the Bible. The most widespread educational effort for blacks in the 1700s was undertaken by a missionary branch of the Church of England. Other denominations also sent teachers to blacks, and after the Revolutionary War, Quakers and Methodists were especially active in blacks' education. In the early 1800s, many Southern States adopted laws forbidding education for blacks, but Protestant groups as well as free blacks and underground slave schools continued to encourage the teaching of blacks in spite of such laws. Frequently, white slaveholders or their wives or children would teach slaves to read, and occasionally blacks would learn from other interested whites or educated blacks. Given the alphabetic reading method used at the time, many students, black and white, never attained much reading ability. Reading was assessed by the quality of oral reading, and it was possible to read aloud and be quite incapable of comprehending. Still, although the extent of literacy among slaves is almost impossible to measure because it was kept secret, a number of blacks did learn to read, despite often adverse circumstances. (HTH)
Publication Type: Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: United States (South)