Tera W. Hunter is an associate professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University, where she teaches courses in US history, specifically focused on African Americans, gender, labor, and Southern history. Her current research is on black marriages among slaves, free blacks, and ex-slaves during the nineteenth century.
As a Radcliffe fellow, she will write a book focusing on the challenges blacks faced as slaves when marriage had no legal standing, their efforts to construct meaningful relationships, and the obstacles they encountered even after slavery ended. It will explore the contradictions created by the Southern planter class and the state, which both found compelling economic and political stakes in regulating strict matrimony after centuries of refusing legitimacy. The book will examine the enthusiastic embrace of monogamous marriage, as well as ambivalence and rejection expressed in a variety of ways.
Hunter received her BA from Duke University and PhD from Yale University. Her first book, To ’Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors After the Civil War (Harvard University Press, 1997), won the H. L. Mitchell Award from the Southern Historical Association, the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize from the Association of Black Women Historians, and the Book of the Year Award from the International Labor History Association. She has held fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, and the Ford Foundation.