Red, White and Black: Interracial Marriage, 1850-2000

Aaron Gullickson, University of Oregon

Despite the advent of historical census data, most studies of interracial marriage have focused solely on patterns and trends since 1960. This paper traces the trend in interracial marriage between both whites and blacks and whites and American Indians from 1850 until 2000. By focusing on a comparison between these two groups, this analysis provides evidence of the different ways in which the boundaries between whites and blacks and whites and American Indians were developed over time. In addition to the overall trend, the paper examines differences by gender, region and education. The results indicate far fewer barriers to prevent the marriage of whites and American Indians throughout the period than for whites and blacks, although substantial social distance still remains between the most assimilated individuals of American Indian ancestry and whites.

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Presented in Session 18: Historical Perspectives on Family and Household Change