A Time of Joining, the latest documentary in NPT’s Citizenship Project series, premieres Thursday, Feb. 22, at 8 p.m. The film explores the rise of benevolent societies and fraternal associations in the years following the Civil War. These organizations provided members with burial insurance, status and other benefits before the nation had any sort of social safety net in place. A Time of Joining will help us understand how these institutions helped define and influence American ideals over a tumultuous period of growth for our young nation.
“These early mutual aid societies are just simply ways of pooling resources to provide a little insurance,” University of Memphis history professor Dr. Beverly G. Bond says in the documentary.
NPT’s Citizenship Project is a series of original productions about how different groups have fought for, obtained and maintained the rights and access we commonly associate with American citizenship. These include the right to vote, the right to receive a public education, the right to be considered equal before the law, and the right to worship the religion of one’s choice. Over the course of the project, the programs will cover Tennessee history from the end of the Civil War through the 1960s, exploring civil rights and women’s suffrage among other topics.
Whereas as many documentaries in The Citizenship Project will highlight specific groups ‒ African Americans or women, for example ‒ A Time of Joining is all-inclusive, says producer Ed Jones. Hundreds of organizations were assembled according to cultural heritage, profession, social class and religion, many beginning as burial societies such as Nashville’s Hebrew Benevolent Burial Association. Others were started as a way to preserve a historical perspective such as the Southern “lost cause” championed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
“A lot of historians and sociologists are really beginning to think that we’re just barely scratching the surface of just how many groups were out there, and how widespread the membership was,” Leigh Ann Gardner of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area states in the documentary.
Also appearing in A Time of Joining are: Dr. David Beito, history professor, University of Alabama; Rabbi Erin Boxt, Temple Beth El in Knoxville; Dr. Carole Bucy, history professor, Volunteer State Community College; Dr. Dan Cornfield, Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and American Studies, Vanderbilt University; Dr. Reavis L. Mitchell Jr., Dean of the School of Humanities Social and Behavioral Sciences, Fisk University; and Deborah Roberts, archivist, Temple Beth El, Knoxville.
Additional broadcast times for A Time of Joining are:
- Sunday, Feb. 25, 9:30 p.m. on NPT
- Monday, Feb. 26, 12:00 a.m. on NPT2
- Monday, Feb. 26, 8 a.m. on NPT2
- Monday, March 5, 12:00 a.m. on NPT
- Saturday, March 10, 5 p.m. on NPT2
- Sunday, March 11, 1 p.m. on NPT2
The documentary will also be available for online viewing at wnpt.org/show/citizenship.
Major funding provided by