Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times - Vol. 1

Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times - Vol. 1

Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times - Vol. 1

Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times - Vol. 1

Synopsis

This first of two volumes extends from the founding of the colony of Georgia in 1733 up to the Progressive era. From the beginning, Georgia women were instrumental in shaping the state, yet most histories minimize their contributions. The essays in this volume include women of many ethnicities and classes who played an important role in Georgia's history.

Though sources for understanding the lives of women in Georgia during the colonial period are scarce, the early essays profile Mary Musgrove, an important player in the relations between the Creek nation and the British Crown, and the loyalist Elizabeth Johnston, who left Georgia for Nova Scotia in 1806. Another essay examines the near-mythical quality of the American Revolution-era accounts of "Georgia's War Woman," Nancy Hart. The later essays are multifaceted in their examination of the way different women experienced Georgia's antebellum social and political life, the tumult of the Civil War, and the lingering consequences of both the conflict itself and Emancipation. After the war, both necessity and opportunity changed women's lives, as educated white women like Eliza Andrews established or taught in schools and as African American women like Lucy Craft Laney, who later founded the Haines Institute, attended school for the first time. Georgia Women also profiles reform-minded women like Mary Latimer McLendon, Rebecca Latimer Felton, Mildred Rutherford, Nellie Peters Black, and Martha Berry, who worked tirelessly for causes ranging from temperance to suffrage to education. The stories of the women portrayed in this volume provide valuable glimpses into the lives and experiences of all Georgia women during the first century and a half of the state's existence.

Historical figures include:

  • Mary Musgrove
  • Nancy Hart
  • Elizabeth Lichtenstein Johnston
  • Ellen Craft
  • Fanny Kemble
  • Frances Butler Leigh
  • Susie King Taylor
  • Eliza Frances Andrews
  • Amanda America Dickson
  • Mary Ann Harris Gay
  • Rebecca Latimer Felton
  • Mary Latimer McLendon
  • Mildred Lewis Rutherford
  • Nellie Peters Black
  • Lucy Craft Laney
  • Martha Berry
  • Corra Harris
  • Juliette Gordon Low

Excerpt

This is the first of two volumes that together explore the diverse and changing patterns of Georgia women’s lives. Volume 1 focuses on eighteen Georgia women between the founding of the colony in 1733 and the end of World War I. What has it meant for women of different social classes and ethnicities to be a Georgia woman? Does identification with a particular state shape a woman’s identity in any significant way? Do women’s experiences cast a new light on the first two centuries of Georgia’s history, as the colony became one of the United States and part of the South? These are the questions that are at the heart of essays included in these volumes, essays that are devoted to those who for so very long were either marginalized or ignored by the men who compiled their histories of the “Peach State.”

As the essays included here make clear, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, some of the preoccupations of Georgia women, like those in other states, were shaped by men and remained largely unchallenged by women, while others were not. This was true regardless of class, legal status, and ethnicity. From the very beginning, even before the first European colonists landed in 1733, women were instrumental in shaping the multifaceted history of Georgia even as Georgia shaped their lives. Albeit in often very different ways, the women included in this volume also provide a unique lens through which the lives of all Georgia women, whatever their background, may be examined.

For contemporary readers, identifying with a state denotes little more than a geographical location. Yet, whether rich or poor, black or white, enslaved or free, women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw themselves as part of a local community. Living in a colony or a state meant far more to them than a physical location. Fanny Kemble and her daughter Frances Butler Leigh, each of whom spent only a little time in Georgia, grasped their claim to the state by choice. Some women implicitly construed themselves as Georgians, donning or . . .

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