Brokering the Domestic Labor of Black Refugees, 1861–1872
Chapter 2 focuses on the period of the Civil War and Reconstruction, when formerly enslaved persons, classified as “contrabands” and refugees, were placed as domestic workers in northern households. The involvement of the Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen’s Bureau) in the placement of refugees as servants prefigured the federal government’s expanded role as a broker of immigrant labor in the decades that followed, yet proved controversial. Designed to reduce government expenditures on the relief of refugees in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, the Freedmen’s Bureau’s financing of black servants’ migration was viewed with skepticism by detractors who claimed that it revived—under the thin veneer of “free” labor—a version of the slave trade. Due to insufficient federal funding, the reluctance of black refugees to relocate to uncertain job situations in the North, and constant questions about its efficacy, the Freedmen’s Bureau—after contracting thousands of women and children to service positions—was ultimately forced to disband this initiative.
NYU Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.