Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Drew Swanson, Ph.D. (Committee Chair); Noeleen McIlvenna, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Nancy Garner, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


On May 23, 1866, two African American children in Christian County, Kentucky, were taken from their parents and apprenticed to a white planter, Elijah Simmons. The two children, Fannie, age eight, and Robert, age four, were expected to serve Simmons for the next thirteen and fourteen years respectively. Fannie was disabled. Denoted in her apprenticeship paper as “deaf and dumb,” the Simmonses did not have to provide for her the way they would a non-disabled child, meaning that they did not have to pay her or provide her with anything upon her release from servitude. Although her story seems in some ways unique, Fannie’s case is actually noteworthy because she was so typical. Thousands of children were placed in apprenticeships that served to enslave them. This thesis explores the often-forgotten subject of Reconstruction and Black labor in a border state. Fannie serves as a reminder that the work of freedom was far from over after the Civil War, and for many freedpeople was just beginning.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of History

Year Degree Awarded


Included in

History Commons