Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




This study investigated the unique position of Black women in the creation of community. Narratives from the Radcliffe Black Women Oral History Project were the source of information used for this work. These 20 oral narratives were collected between 1978 and 1982 by the Schlesinger Library. The women studied were involved in various community activities and represent Black women from various social classes and geographical locations. An in-depth reading of each of the narratives identified three themes: life-informing work, community-building, and religion. The theme of life-informing work was identified because the work and community involvement of the narrators had a basis in their lives; something going on in their personal lives led to their interest in certain community organizations. Community-building as a theme can be seen on two levels. These women were involved in various community organizations as a result of some life experience; this led to the narrators either joining a pre-existing organization or to the creation of new organizations. The narrators also acknowledge the role that the Black church played in the development of their lives and life within the Black community. The Black church was described by these women as the social, political, and educational center of the Black community. The interrelationships between these themes and various concepts within Black feminist theory are also examined.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access