Benefits for Black Union Widows

Spelman College | Mar-05-2021

Black Union widows had trouble claiming benefits after the Civil War. Brandi Brimmer discusses their post-war battle.

Brandi Brimmer, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of History, is a historian of slavery and emancipation interested in how Black people assert themselves in legal systems and within government agencies. Her first book, "Claiming Union Widowhood: Race, Respectability, and Poverty in the Post-Emancipation South" (forthcoming, Duke University Press), offers a new interpretive framework of emancipation and the freedom narrative. Dr. Brimmer chronicles the collective struggle of Black women seeking benefits from the U.S. government on the basis of their standing as the widows of men who served in the Union army during the Civil War. Their petitions and the first-person testimony of those who supported them paint a vivid picture of their lives and labors as free people in a society that continued to marginalize Black women on the basis of race and gender. Read Full Article