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Women’s Studies

Women and the American Civil War

and | Filed under: Civil War Era, Explore Women's History, Recent Releases, U.S. History, Women’s Studies
Giesberg Cover

The scholarship on women’s experiences in the U.S. Civil War is rich and deep, but much of it remains regionally specific or subsumed in more general treatments of Northern and Southern peoples during the war. In a series of eight paired essays, scholars examine women’s comparable experiences across the regions, focusing particularly on women’s politics, wartime mobilization, emancipation, wartime relief, women and families, religion, reconstruction, and Civil War memory. In each pairing, historians analyze women’s lives, interests, and engagement in public issues and private concerns and think critically about what stories and questions still need attention. Among their questions are:

 


Her Voice Will Be on the Side of Right

| Filed under: American Abolitionism and Antislavery, Explore Women's History, Literature & Literary Criticism, Recent Releases, Understanding Civil War History, Women’s Studies
Kent cover

Decades before the Civil War, the free American public was gripped by increasingly acrimonious debates about the nation’s “peculiar institution” of slavery. Ministers considered the morality of slavery from their pulpits, legislators debated it in the halls of government, professors discussed it in their classrooms, and citizens argued about it in their communities. Antislavery women wrote novels and stories designed to convince free Americans about slavery’s evils, to discuss the future of abolitionism, and to debate the proper roles of free and enslaved women in the antislavery struggle. Many antebellum writers and editors believed fiction was an especially genderappropriate medium for women to express their ideas publicly and a decidedly effective medium for reaching female readers. Believing that women were naturally more empathetic and imaginative than men, writers and editors hoped that powerfully told stories about enslaved people’s sufferings would be invaluable in converting free female readers to abolitionism.

 


Sympathy, Madness, and Crime

| Filed under: Explore Women's History, Journalism, Recent Releases, Women’s Studies
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In one of her escapades as a reporter for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, the renowned Nellie Bly feigned insanity in 1889 and slipped, undercover, behind the grim walls of Blackwell’s Island mental asylum. She emerged ten days later with a vivid tale about life in a madhouse. Her asylum articles merged sympathy and sensationalism, highlighting a developing professional identity—that of the American newspaperwoman.

 


Lincoln’s Generals’ Wives

| Filed under: Award Winners, Civil War Era, Civil War in the North, Explore Women's History, History, Recent Releases, Understanding Civil War History, Women’s Studies
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The story of the American Civil War is not complete without examining the extraordinary and influential lives of Jessie Frémont, Nelly McClellan, Ellen Sherman, and Julia Grant, the wives of Abraham Lincoln’s top generals. They were their husbands’ closest confidantes and had a profound impact on the generals’ ambitions and actions. Most important, the women’s own attitudes toward and relationships with Lincoln had major historical significance.

 


Darling Ro and the Benét Women

| Filed under: Biography, Explore Women's History, Literature & Literary Criticism, Women’s Studies
Hively Cover

Darling Ro and the Benét Women presents a revealing glimpse of social and literary life in New York and Paris during the 1920s. Using a recently released collection of letters from the Benét Collection at Yale University, author Evelyn Helmick Hively extracts captivating anecdotes and impressions about a talented group of writers and impressive feminist figures. Written by Rosemary Carr Benét to her mother, Dr. Rachel Hickey Carr (one of Chicago’s first women physicians), the compilation of letters and short dispatches from Paris provides the focus of the book.

 


Pantaloons and Power

| Filed under: Clothing & Costume, Explore Women's History, History, Women’s Studies
Fischer Book Cover

In Pantaloons and Power, Gayle V. Fischer depicts how the reformers’ denouncement of conventional dress highlighted the role of clothing in the struggle of power relations between the sexes. Wearing pantaloons was considered a subversive act and was often met with social ostracism. This carefully researched interdisciplinary study successfully combines the fields of costume history, women’s history, material culture, and social history to tell the story of one highly charged dress reform and its resonance in nineteenth-century society.

 


Cautious Rebel

| Filed under: Biography, Books, Explore Women's History, Women’s Studies
Apple Book Cover

Women’s studies has been inclined, unintentionally, to create a new elite. Historians have preferred to emphasize progress, particularly when created by women themselves, and biographers have chosen strong, successful women. But the vast majority of women were not activists. Susan Clay Sawitzky’s life shows that tradition and modernity can and did exist simultaneously, creating tremendous complexity in the lives of individuals. Her experiences suggest that compromise may result as much from fatigue as from lack of desire or courage.

 


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