Resisting Reproduction: Reconsidering Slave Contraception in the Old South

TitleResisting Reproduction: Reconsidering Slave Contraception in the Old South
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsPerrin, Liese M.
JournalJournal of American Studies
Volume35
Issue2
Pagination255–274
Abstract

The practices of abortion and infanticide seem worthy of at least a fleeting mention in most studies of slave women in the United States, yet few historians mention the use of contraception. Those who do, usually conclude that little is known about the subject, but that it is probably not particularly significant. This article will discuss the use of contraception among slaves and will concentrate, in particular, on the use of cotton roots as a form of birth-control. Evidence that the cotton root was used for this purpose is taken mainly from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) narratives, edited by George Rawick.1 As yet, the author has come across only a few references to the use of cotton roots as a form of contraception in any other source. The WPA narratives are a controversial source, but, in sifting through every single interview, the multiple references to such an intimate practice were striking and demanded attention. This article forms part of a chapter from a thesis which looks at the work of slave women in the American South. 

URLhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/27556967
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