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Pagnini, Deanna L. & Morgan, S. Philip (1996). Racial Differences in Marriage and Childbearing: Oral History Evidence from the South in the Early Twentieth Century. American Journal of Sociology, 101(6), 1694-1718.


Using oral histories collected in 1938 and 1939 in the Southern United States, this article examines how African-Americans and whites viewed marriage and nonmarital childbearing. The authors document distinct racial differences in family norms and the sanctions that supported those norms. Giving birth outside a marital relationship was clearly not the stigmatizing event for African-Americans that it was for whites. The authors also found that African-Americans were more likely than whites to end marriages under similar conditions. These results suggest that debates about contemporary racial differences need to take into account the historical background, both cultural and demographic, of diverse groups.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Sociology


Pagnini, Deanna L.
Morgan, S. Philip