The "other Side": Public Memory and the Life of Sylvia Routh in Houston, Texas, 1837-1859

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African American women in antebellum Texas have not been a topic of research within North American academic history. Due to the absence of documentation and close connections to prominent white members of society, narratives about black women have been few and limited. The case study of Sylvia Routh is an example of what can be done to present what up to now has been a hidden and forgotten narrative of the American story. The evidence of Routh's life as a free woman of color and her family's economic status proves her self-reliance during the early to mid-19th century. The goal of this thesis project is to explore this lack of inclusion and its disservice to the scholarship of black women's history, as well as argue that black female heads of the household were economically more stable because they had to be to provide for their families. Black women contributed to the history of Texas as a province of Mexico, an independent Republic, and a state within the Union. While the experiences of some have cast a shadow over the enslaved and free colored communities, black women, such as Sylvia Routh have a story to tell about Texas, black women, and the African American community.

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