Saturday, 2:00 pm
Women in the Civil War
The American Civil War reached beyond the battlefields to affect the life of every American citizen. In this panel discussion, three scholars discuss the effects of the war on American women in both the North and South—touching on the lives of free black women in the Union, alienated white women in the Confederacy, and women laborers who fought for a fair wage. With the men away, women were forced to enter civil society—to do the farming, the accounting, work in industry, and fend for themselves, including rioting and raiding government warehouses to feed their starving children. The Women's Movement had begun within the Anti-Slavery Societies, but the Civil War set in motion a movement that could not be stopped.
Judith Giesberg, Associate Professor of History at Villanova University, author of Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Front - Introducing readers to women whose Civil War experiences have long been ignored, Judith Giesberg examines the lives of working-class women in the North, for whom the home front was a battlefield of its own. At the heart of the book are stories of women who fought the draft in New York and Pennsylvania, protested segregated streetcars in San Francisco and Philadelphia, and demanded a living wage in the needle trades and safer conditions at the Federal arsenals where they labored. Giesberg challenges readers to think about women and children who were caught up in the military conflict but nonetheless refused to become its collateral damage. She offers a dramatic reinterpretation of how America's Civil War reshaped the lived experience of race and gender and brought swift and lasting changes to working-class family life.
Stephanie McCurry, Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, author of Confederate Reckoning - The story of the Confederate States of America, the proslavery, antidemocratic nation created by white Southern slaveholders to protect their property, has been told many times in heroic and martial narratives. Although Southern statesmen and generals had built the most powerful slave regime in the Western world, they had excluded the majority of their own people—white women and slaves—and thereby sowed the seeds of their demise. The political project of the Confederacy was tried by its own people and failed. The government was forced to become accountable to women and slaves, provoking an astounding transformation of the slaveholders' state. Confederate Reckoning is the startling story of this epic political battle in which women and slaves helped to decide the fate of the Confederacy and the outcome of the Civil War.
Sponsored by the Moonstone Art Center. Free admission.
Photo: Miss E. Demine, photographed by Matthew Brady in the early 1860's (public domain image).