Southern Women: Black and White in the Old South

Southern Women: Black and White in the Old South

Southern Women: Black and White in the Old South

Southern Women: Black and White in the Old South

Synopsis

Unlike their Northern counterparts, Southern women lived in relative obscurity, giving rise to, and often making them victims of, myth and exaggeration. In Southern Women, Professor McMillen considers diaries, letters, and other personal accounts as well as the latest scholarly research to present an alternate view into the lives of antebellum Southern women, helping to dispel myths about how these women lived.

This intriguing narrative assesses similarites and differences among the various classes of Southern women, as well as interracial and class relationships. A wholly new chapter on Southern women and the Confederacy--including rare scholarship on yeoman and poor farmwives--and photographic essay help make the second edition of this versatile text ideal as supplementary reading in the U. S. History survey as well as in courses on Southern, Social, and Women's, and African American History.

Excerpt

“I find by daily experience I am of a hardier mold than I had the most distant idea,” wrote Priscilla Bailey of North Carolina in 1824. This recognition of feminine strength in the context of a demanding life could have been uttered by any black or white woman living in the antebellum and Civil War South. Southern women would have understood Priscilla's statement, for most of them, whatever their status or color, endured difficult and exhausting lives. They devoted themselves to families and work, sacrificing and struggling, and made enormous contributions to the region. Southern women were, indeed, of a “hardier mold.”

Unfortunately, women who lived in the Old South often remain victims of myth or exaggeration. Slave and free black southern women have been portrayed as matriarchal or profligate; white women as delicate, submissive, and idle. Farm women mostly have been ignored because their records are so few. Myths for too long have prevented an accurate assessment of southern women's contributions, sacrifices, hardships, joys, and most important, their individuality.

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