Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Ogren, Christine A

First Committee Member

Ogren, Christine A

Second Committee Member

McCarthy, Christine

Third Committee Member

Sanders, Katrina M

Fourth Committee Member

Schwalm, Leslie A

Fifth Committee Member

Trachsel, Mary C


This study is a qualitative, historical examination of the diaries, journals, and letters of twenty-four northern teachers of former African American slaves. The study analyzes the cultural reform project carried out by these and other northern teachers working in the American South during the Civil War and early Reconstruction periods (roughly 1862 to 1870). The sample includes both black and white teachers as well as teachers who conceptualized their work in the South primarily in secular terms and--more commonly--in both secular and religious terms. After providing an overview of the work and situating it within the historiography of the teachers of the freed people, the study explores the sense of mission of each of the twenty-four teachers and examines the influence of white racism and black agency on northern reform efforts during this period. The bulk of the work addresses the teachers' perceptions of and efforts to reform the cultural condition of the former slaves. These reforms attempted to foster intellectual development through classroom education; provide material relief and instill personal habits of cleanliness, tidiness, and healthy living; encourage the former slaves to take up the duties and rights of citizenship; and influence the course of southern black religion. A brief conclusion summarizes the themes of the work and evaluates the success and appropriateness of the teachers' agenda. The study finds that while the teachers in the sample varied in their motivations and their conceptualizations of the work, as a group they had a comprehensive and remarkably consistent cultural reform agenda designed to reshape the life of southern blacks along northern lines and that this agenda sometimes aligned and sometimes conflicted with southern blacks' own goals and aspirations.


African Americans, education, freed people, history, Reconstruction, teachers


viii, 375 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 366-375).


Copyright 2012 James Paul Patterson