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Karen Ryder

  • Ph.D. Program, American History
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Karen Ryder

Education
Indiana University of Pennsylvania, B.S., Music Education, 1971; University of Delaware, M.A., 2001.

Advisor
Peter Kolchin

Dissertation Title
“'Permanent Property': Risk, Speculation, and Slave Insurance in the U.S., 1830-1866"

Dissertation Summary
My dissertation explores the significance of slave insurance for both the system of slavery and the growth of the insurance business in the antebellum U.S. I attempt to assess the extensiveness of slave insurance through an exploration of newspaper advertisements, surviving business records, legislative acts of incorporation, and other evidence. The dissertation addresses such questions as: How does the existence of such a market-oriented practice as slave insurance affect our understanding of the antebellum South? How did insurance change over time in response to the changing risks of slaveownership? How were slaves insured as both persons and property and how did insurance affect slaves? Did slave insurance help or hinder the development of the insurance business in the South and in the nation? Through a study of the relationships among insurance agents, their customers, the companies they represented and the slaves they insured, I try to explore the connections linking the business of slave insurance with later developments, particularly in the life insurance industry, after Emancipation.