Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/03/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Schwalm, Leslie A

First Committee Member

Stromquist, Shelton

Second Committee Member

Gordon, Colin

Third Committee Member

Storrs, Landon R Y

Fourth Committee Member

Hill, Lena M


“Race, Capitalism, and Social Welfare after the Civil War, 1864-1911: The CKOP and the COC” is a cultural history. It examines the African American fraternal association, the Colored Knights of Pythias and their women’s auxiliary, the Court of Calanthe. The project straddles the periods before and after enslaved people’s relationship to labor and capitalism shifted in the US. For example, free and enslaved blacks purchased and owned goods before emancipation, but slavery’s demise created a new landscape for many African Americans in the transition from their bodies being considered commodities and contrabands to free laborers. Who were the people who were drawn to fraternal insurance as a product? What did their communities look like? What distinctions emerge in places that fought the hardest to create such tools as insurance among fraternals? This project uncovers the wartime and post-Civil War biographies of CKOP and COC members in order to create a more intimate story of their lives and understood how they responded to the political and economic risks of post-Reconstruction existence in the South. My project makes four key interventions. First, a more mature understanding of the capitalist state emerged in African American communities after the Civil War and understanding how African Americans interpreted this transition is important. Telling this story also means creating space to examine how freedmen and freeborn African Americans imagined their new relationship to capitalism as well as to each other. Secondly, both women and men believed their gender empowered them to also organize for social welfare and reform. Third, internal debates among the CKOP and COC over how to manage their business affairs as well as their social welfare programs are important sites of black identity formation. Lastly, the South is not a monolithic in this project – place matters. Through chapters grounded in regional studies, readers see the distinctive characteristics that defined community building in Washington, DC, Vicksburg, MS, New Orleans, LA and Birmingham, AL.


xii, 249 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 236-249).


Copyright © 2018 Sylvea Hollis

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