Beyond the popular myths of spirited young women and iron-willed matrons of the 19th century South were women of substance and diversity. Many were prolific diarists, letter writers, and record keepers of deep insight and keen observation. In this important microfilm publication from UPA, fascinating collections of their writings shed light on the world they knew. Courtship, slavery, education, child rearing, marriage, and religion are common threads running through the thoughts of many disparate women documented in the series.
Though the subjects of Series H, Part 1 share the common experience of being white, educated women living in the 19th century South, their perspectives are far from homogeneous. The authors are schoolgirls and grandmothers, working women and those supported by husbands or families, women who seem scarcely aware of slavery and others who agonize about its morality while enjoying its advantages. These papers follow women as they travel the social arch of their lives, from close female friendships, courtship and marriage to motherhood, and encounter the issues of their times: the Civil War, slavery, religious faith, education and descent into poverty. Combined with the constant threat of disease and child mortality, the collections often present women in states of crisis, searching for the means to hold themselves and their families together.
Many voices are represented in the collections, including the compelling accounts of Emma Spaulding, wife of carpetbagger and newspaperman John Emory Bryant, Julia Blanche Munroe, wife of U.S. and Confederate naval officer John McIntosh Kell, author Clara Victoria Dargan MacLean, schoolteacher Isabella Anna Roberts Woodruff, and wealthy plantation owner and well-known diarist Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas.