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Reconstruction: Keywords


Before you start searching for books, articles or web pages, you need to choose keywords that represent your research topic.


Keywords are significant words (usually nouns or noun phrases) which can be used as search terms in online catalogs or databases or book indexes. They can appear in the title, subject headings, abstract, or text of bibliographic records. A database keyword search typically searches all or most of these fields.


Broad categories and individual topics:

1. Politics and Political Enfranchisement

  • Reconstruction Act
  • Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments
  • Presidential Reconstruction
  • Black political officeholders
  • Radical Republicans
  • Impeachment of President Johnson
  • Bargain of 1877


2. Society and Social Policy

  • The Freedmen’s Bureau (Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands)
  • Military Reconstruction policy
  • White Terrorism/Ku Klux Klan
  • The Union League
  • Race riots (for example, the Memphis Riot of 1866)
  • Immigration and nativism (Immigrant labor, tensions between immigrant groups and newly freed slaves, rise of nativism)
  • Reconstruction and woman suffrage (1865-1890s)


3. Laws and Citizen’s Rights

  • Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments
  • Civil Rights Bill of 1866; Civil Rights Act of 1875
  • Black Codes
  • Convict Lease System
  • Enforcement Acts


4. Culture, Religion, and Education

  • Schools and Universities (Fisk University, Hampton Institute, Howard University; missionary society schools and public schooling in the South)
  • Political art, cartoons, & illustrations in newspapers & magazines
  • The Black press (The American Freedman, The Colored American, The Colored Citizen, and others)
  • Black churches (African Methodist Episcopal Church; Colored Methodist Episcopal Church; black Baptist churches)
  • White-controlled religious institutions
  • Music (folk music, protest songs, spirituals, musicals, minstrel shows)

5. Economics, Labor, and Landowning

  • Industrialization
  • Carpetbaggers
  • Sharecropping
  • Crop liens
  • Land reform
  • Sea Islands
  • Railroad construction


  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)
  • Southern States -- History -- 1865-1877
  • United States - Politics and government - 1865-1877
  • Republican Party
  • African Americans -- History -- 1863-1877
  • Emancipation
  • Civil Rights
  • African Americans - Suffrage
  • Law and Legislation
  • Contract System (labor)
  • Labor movement



Narrow keywords to use in searching for information

  • Enforcement Acts
  • Civil Rights Act of 1866
  • Reconstruction Act of 1867
  • Radical Reconstruction (Radical Republicans; Reconstruction era Congress)
  • Freedmen's Bureau and Oliver Otis Howard (head) (sometimes spelled Freedman's bureau!) 
  • Redeemer(s) (Redeem, white supremacists)
  • Carpetbaggers
  • Scalawags
  • Klu Klux Klan
  • Exoduster Movement
  • Sharecropping (Sharecroppers; Yeoman farmers)
  • Port Royal Experiment
  • Land redistribution
  • "Forty Acres and a Mule"
  • Black Codes
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Election of 1876 and Compromise of 1877
  • Union Pacific Railroad (Credit Mobilier)
  • President Andrew Johnson's plan for reconstruction
  • Andrew Johnson and "Swing around the circle"
  • Andrew Johnson and impeachment
  • Abraham Lincoln and assassination
  • Supreme Court (Slaughterhouse cases;  Samuel Chase; Morrison Waite)
  • Thirteenth Amendment
  • Fourteenth Amendment
  • Fifteenth Amendment
  • Field Order #15 (William T. Sherman)
  • Victoria Woodhull
  • Women's suffrage (Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and 14th & 15th Amendments)
  • Churches, African American ; Ministers, black ; religion
  • President Lincoln's Plan (Ten Per Cent Plan; Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction)
  • Reconstruction's Legacy (civil rights; government taxes; segregation; voting rights; Southern economics; 
  • Howard University