Jumping the Broom

The Surprising Multicultural Origins of a Black Wedding Ritual

By Tyler D. Parry

320 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 drawings, 7 halftones, 4 graphs

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6086-8
    Published: November 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6085-1
    Published: November 2020
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6087-5
    Published: October 2020
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6015-6
    Published: October 2020

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Awards & distinctions

2022 Wayland D. Hand Prize, History and Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society

In this definitive history of a unique tradition, Tyler D. Parry untangles the convoluted history of the "broomstick wedding." Popularly associated with African American culture, Parry traces the ritual’s origins to marginalized groups in the British Isles and explores how it influenced the marriage traditions of different communities on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. His surprising findings shed new light on the complexities of cultural exchange between peoples of African and European descent from the 1700s up to the twenty-first century.

Drawing from the historical records of enslaved people in the United States, British Romani, Louisiana Cajuns, and many others, Parry discloses how marginalized people found dignity in the face of oppression by innovating and reimagining marriage rituals. Such innovations have an enduring impact on the descendants of the original practitioners. Parry reveals how and why the simple act of "jumping the broom" captivates so many people who, on the surface, appear to have little in common with each other.

About the Author

Tyler D. Parry is assistant professor of African American and African diaspora studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
For more information about Tyler D. Parry, visit the Author Page.


"A detailed, comprehensive, and well-documented history."—CHOICE Reviews

Jumping the Broom takes recent historical scholarship into entirely new territory. . . . The methods and conclusions of Parry’s research have far-reaching implications regarding how we think about and practice marriage today.”—Journal of Southern History

"Jumping the Broom serves as a reminder that the foundations of Black American traditions cannot be simplified into singular narratives and that popular ideas about these traditions often inaccurately turn enslaved people and their descendants into monoliths." —WSQ

“In crafting a transatlantic history of the broomstick ceremony and its contested memory, Parry has produced an engaging explanation of an often misunderstood tradition. This study proves a wonderful resource for academics, but its readability makes it a good fit for anyone hoping to discover the true history of jumping the broom.”—Heather Brinn, Journal of African American History

"Readers who are familiar with the broomstick wedding ritual identified with enslaved African Americans will be stunned to learn of its complex origins. Tyler D. Parry challenges misconceptions to render a riveting historical reconstruction of cultural exchange and innovation. This is the most lucid and comprehensive history of the ritual, which draws on a rich array of archival, visual, literary, and popular culture sources. A must-read."--Tera W. Hunter, author of Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century

"Ranging from eighteenth-century England, Scotland, and Wales, through the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States, to the contemporary United States and Caribbean, this book offers a compelling and illuminating account of a quintessential product of transatlantic exchange--the broomstick wedding."--Erica L. Ball, author of To Live an Antislavery Life: Personal Politics and the Antebellum Black Middle Class