Week 8 Blog: Text Analysis

For this week’s blog post, I decided to focus on the category of marriage. I wanted to focus on this topic to explore and deepen my understanding of how commonly marriages occurred between enslaved individuals compared to non-enslaved individuals. After browsing through the Marriage section of the North American Slave Database, I chose to focus on The House of Bondage, which was written by Ocatvia V. Albert in the year 1890.

Research Question: Did enslaved individuals have similar privileges and opportunities to marry compared to the rest of the population?

I was interested in exploring this research question because I have always been curious about the exact rights of enslaved individuals regarding marriage in our country. I have always been aware that enslaved individuals rights to marry were limited to a certain extent, but wanted to gain a deeper understanding of exactly how limited their rights were. I firmly believe that marriage is an important aspect of life that everyone should have the right to endure, so I saw this topic as an opportunity to learn more about marriage rights in the past. After analyzing my source and uploading the information into Voyant, it unfortunately became clear that enslaved individuals rights regarding marriage were very limited. In the Cirrus section of Voyant, I noticed that there were not many words at all that related to marriage in any way. This demonstrates that enslaved individuals commonly weren’t correlated with the topic of marriage. I’d be very interested in comparing the resource I used to a resource supplied by an individual who was not enslaved and seeing the different words and phrases that would appear in the Cirrus section. For the Trends section, I narrowed it down to words that would help me answer my research question. I narrowed it down to the words marriage, black, white, man, and woman. I did this hoping that it would demonstrate how often the words were used in affiliation to marriage. It was no surprise that “white” and “men” were the two words selected that appeared most frequently. At the same time, the words “black” and “marriage” were not as commonly used; further demonstrating the lack of rights to marriage for enslaved individuals.




One thought on “Week 8 Blog: Text Analysis

  1. I really enjoyed reading about your interest in the history of marriage in slavery and the pursuit of answers to your research question. I think your use of the cirrus and word cloud function of Voyant pointed to the lack of connection between slavery and marriage, as you suggest. From a historical standpoint, I think the legal definition of marriage was largely prohibited and/or discouraged to enslaved people. Nonetheless, enslaved couples had private ceremonies to commemorate a “marriage” between two people. The unfortunate reality, however, was that many families were torn apart despite the bonds of marriage and children. Further research might entail some close reading of the sources to gather the familial relations between individuals and how that might constitute marriages. Excellent visuals and analysis!

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