Broomstick Wedding, Virginia (?), 1840s


Mary Ashton Rice Livermore, The Story of My Life (Hartford, 1897), p. 257


Caption, The Broomstick Wedding. Livermore writes that the bride and groom wore cast-off clothing once belonging to their master and mistress. The preacher was Uncle Aaron, one of the best servants. The bride and groom stood in the center of the room, holding hands. Two other slaves held the broom below the couple's knees. The couple jumped into the married state (Livermore, p. 256). In her preface, Livermore indicates she had lived in Virginia for 3 years, 55 years ago. In her autobiography (Memories of Childhood's Slavery Days; Boston, 1909), the former plantation slave Annie L. Burton recalled that in her childhood during the Civil War, if an enslaved man and woman wished to marry, a party would be arranged some Saturday night among the slaves. The marriage ceremony consisted of the pair jumping over a stick

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