Wives and concubines. Free and enslaved families of the Parish of Antonio Dias, Vila Rica, 1760-1785

Kátia Maria Nunes Campos, Centro de Desenvolvimento e Planejamento Regional (CEDEPLAR)

Using an adapted family reconstruction method, this paper analyses the peculiarities of the family formation processes and the demographic dynamics of a precocious urban society, deeply rooted in a slavery based economic system. It applies aggregate demographic analysis to establish local typologies of marriage and family, expecting to find the predominance of nuclear and matrifocal families. The data series of marriage, baptisms and death were collected on the registries of the parish of Antonio Dias, one of the two that formed the Brazilian colonial town of Vila Rica, in the period of 1760 to 1785. This article also revises the generally accepted notion which associates slavery with low marriage rates, low fertility, and low family stability, showing that, in Vila Rica, the marriage and fertility rates of slaves were similar to those of the free population.

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Presented in Session 88: History of the family