Freedom’s Archive: Slavery, Emancipation, & Reconstruction in Fort Bend County

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Rice University

This thesis tells the story of the Wheat family from their enslavement in Fort Bend County by Frederick Allen Rice through their experiences during emancipation, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. It studies questions of change and continuity and grapples with the inadequacies of traditional sources to try and tell a rich, colorful story of one Black family's life. The thesis finds that while there was certainly some progress from slavery, one family member's gains might be weighed down by setbacks for another. It also argues that freedom's archive is not well-suited to answering the sort of broad, overarching questions historians of this time period often ask when searching for a definitive answer to how revolutionary Reconstruction was. This thesis also asserts the importance of attempting to reconstruct just a few people's lives and their genealogies, emphasizing enslaved people's claims on the present.

in partial fulfillment of the undergraduate honors designation for the Rice University Department of History
Honor Thesis
slavery, emancipation, Reconstruction, Wheat family, Rice, Black history

Schachter, Ben. "Freedom’s Archive: Slavery, Emancipation, & Reconstruction in Fort Bend County." Undergraduate thesis, Rice University, 2022.

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