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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ON SLAVERY’S BORDER: MISSOURI’S SMALL SLAVEHOLDING HOUSEHOLDS, 1815-1865

The National Archives at Kansas City will host Diane Mutti Burke on Wednesday, February 22 at 6:30 p.m. for a discussion of her book On Slavery’s Border: Missouri's Small Slaveholding Households, 1815-1865. Mutti Burke will be available to sign copies of her book after the discussion. A 6:00 p.m. reception will precede the event.

Mutti Burke focuses on the Missouri counties located along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to investigate small-scale slavery at the level of the household and neighborhood. She examines such topics as small slaveholders’ child-rearing and fiscal strategies, the economics of slavery, relations between slaves and owners, the challenges faced by slave families, sociability among enslaved and free Missourians within rural neighborhoods, and the disintegration of slavery during the Civil War. Mutti Burke argues that economic and social factors gave Missouri slavery an especially intimate quality. Owners directly oversaw their slaves and lived in close proximity with them, sometimes in the same building. White Missourians believed this made for a milder version of bondage. Some slaves, who expressed fear of being sold further south, seemed to agree.

Mutti Burke reveals, however, that while small slaveholding created some advantages for slaves, it also made them more vulnerable to abuse and interference in their personal lives. In a region with easy access to the free states, the perception that slavery was threatened spawned white anxiety, which frequently led to violent reassertions of supremacy.

Copies of On Slavery’s Border: Missouri's Small Slaveholding Households, 1815-1865 will be available for purchase via The Kansas City Store onsite. For more information or to make a reservation for this free event call 816-268-8010 or email kansascity.educate@nara.gov.

About the author

Diane Mutti Burke is an associate professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Currently she is editing and annotating the diary of a 19th century Missouri woman named Paulina Stratton for publication, as well as co-editing, with Jonathan Earle from the University of Kansas, a collection of scholarly essays on this region’s history during the era of the Civil War. Mutti Burke was born and raised in Kansas City and earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and her master’s and doctorate from Emory University.

The National Archives at Kansas City is one of 13 facilities nationwide where the public has access to Federal archival records. It is home to historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by Federal agencies in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. For more information, call 816-268-8000, email kansascity.educate@nara.gov or visit www.archives.gov/central-plains/kansas-city.

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