Patterns of Residence and Domestic Cooperation within Viola Jackson's Kindred

Stack's domestic network model of Black family organzation is illustrated by the functions and dynamics of one woman's (Viola Jackon's) kinship network. Viola is married and has developed a strong stable relationship with her husband Leo. The other relevant members of her family include her mother, Magnolia, and two brothers and three sisters (designated solely by letters), who have more erratic conjugal ties.

Stack traces out coordinated moves, interrelations, additions, and exchanges of people and services within Viola's basic kinship group to show that, even though it involves several separate residences at any one time it resembles a corporate unit, providing mutual aid and assurances of survival for all its members, especially its children.

Sequence of events: domestic cycle and extended kin interactions in Viola's Jackson's kindred.
(Note: blue boxes indicate household units, red boxes indicate extraresidential domestic arrangements)

  • Viola's sister (C) moves to Racine to work, leaving her daughter to live with her husband and his parents in the South.
  • J and his two sons join her in Racine.
    C cooks for J's household and assists with childcare
  • J and his children move to Benton Harbor where Viola and L are living and moves in with L.
  • J sets up a household of his own
  • C is reunited with her daughter and moves to Benton Harbor to be near Viola, L, and J.
  • C helps J with meals and childcare as she did in 1945.
  • Magnolia, who is caring for two of her daughter M's children, looses her husband, and Viola sends two of her sons to help her mother.
  • M and one of her children are living with E in Champlaign at the time
  • Magnolia moves to Champlaign to live with her daughters
  • She brings M's two children with her
  • E has died
  • M and her children move with Magnolia to Danville.
  • M has died
  • Magnolia and M's children move to Chicago, where Viola and Leo live 
  • They move in temporarily with Viola and Leo 
  • Magnolia moves into her own house with her gradchildren
  • She receives financial support from Viola and Leo 

© Brian Schwimmer, All rights reserved
Department of Anthropology
University of Manitoba
Created: October 2003