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Georgia Women

Their Lives and Times

Ann Short Chirhart

Publication Year: 2009

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

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Southern Women: Their Lives and Times


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pp. ix-x

As in any collection of essays, this book owes its achievements to the scholars who contributed their research. We would like to thank all of them for their patience and substantial work. At an early stage, Sarah Gardner provided some assistance. Betty Wood graciously agreed to serve as coeditor at a vital time. Indiana State University provided funding to Ann Short Chirhart through an ...

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pp. 1-10

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? ...

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Mary Musgrove (ca. 1700–1765): Maligned Mediator or Mischievous Malefactor?

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pp. 11-32

Coosaponakeesa, also known as Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth, represents one of the few women from colonial Georgia about whom any records survive.1 Unfortunately, the documents of her bitter and constant battles with British officials at home and abroad paint her as a discontented and bothersome female who incessantly ...

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Nancy Hart (ca. 1735–ca. 1830): "Too Good Not to Tell Again"

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pp. 33-57

Georgians love a good story, and Georgia has produced numerous skilled storytellers and many marvelous stories, some fictional, some historical. Georgia has also produced stories that seem to hang in a mythical realm somewhere between fiction and history. The stories of Nancy Hart rest in just such an ambiguous place. Hart, nicknamed ...

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Elizabeth Lichtenstein Johnston (1764–1848): "Shot Round the World but Not Heard"

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pp. 58-81

"No one could possibly claim," explained Rev. Arthur Wentworth Eaton in his 1901 preface, that Elizabeth Johnston and her Recollections "are of very wide historical or even biographical interest." She did not fire any cannons or act heroically, did not enter into personal correspondence with great figures, did not influence the course of political events, ...

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Ellen Craft (ca. 1826–1891): The Fugitive Who Fled as a Planter

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pp. 82-105

The fugitive slave Ellen Craft (ca. 1826–1891), and her husband William (1824–1900), achieved prominence in their day for a daring and audacious escape from bondage. Not sheltered under cloak of darkness, but instead concealed by a clever disguise and the distractions of holiday revelries, the Crafts tell of fleeing from slavery in Macon, Georgia, ...

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Fanny Kemble (1809–1893) and Frances Butler Leigh (1838–1910): Becoming Georgian

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pp. 106-129

In a book dedicated to documenting the lives of Georgia women, it may seem impertinent to wonder whether Frances Anne Kemble (Fanny) and her daughter, Frances Butler Leigh (Fan), were Georgians in any meaningful sense of the word. The State of Georgia itself does not seem certain. The historical marker commemorating "Famous Butler Authors"...

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Susie King Taylor (1848–1912): "I Gave My Services Willingly"

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pp. 130-146

Like thousands of African American women of her generation, Susie King Taylor was born into slavery in Georgia.1 Like only a very few of them, she seized her freedom and joined the Union army, and like no others, she left a memoir of her experience, which makes her story compelling. However, Taylor was emblematic of her ...

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Eliza Frances Andrews (1840–1931): "I Will Have to Say 'Damn!' Yet, Before I Am Done with Them"

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pp. 147-172

Eliza Frances Andrews was the sort of educated, witty, and independent, stereotype-flouting woman about whom historians seem to love reading and writing. It is easy to be engaged by someone who notes casually that a friend "has lent me Les Miserables in French, which I read whenever I can steal a moment during the week."...

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Amanda America Dickson (1849–1893): A Wealthy Lady of Color in Nineteenth-Century Georgia

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pp. 173-198

One day in the middle of February 1849, a wealthy man named David Dickson rode across his fallow fields. As he rode he spotted a young female slave, whom he knew, playing in a field. The girl not only belonged to his mother but was also a great favorite of hers. Deliberately, he rode up beside her, reached down, and swung her up behind him on his saddle....

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Mary Gay (1829–1918): Sin, Self, and Survival in the Post–Civil War South

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pp. 199-223

In most respects, Mary Ann Harris Gay was an ordinary nineteenth-century white southern woman. Born on a slaveholding farm in Jones County, Georgia, in 1829, she never married, survived wartime hardships, and endured a succession of personal tragedies during her eighty-nine long years. But she also published three books over her lifetime, ...

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Rebecca Latimer Felton (1835–1930): The Problem of Protection in the New South

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pp. 224-244

On November 21, 1922, women packed the galleries of the U.S. Senate. Delegations from every women's organization in Washington were present for the introduction of the first woman senator ever. Hale and hearty despite her eighty-seven years, the new junior senator from Georgia rose to give her maiden speech. "The women of the ...

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Mary Latimer McLendon (1840–1921): "Mother of Suffrage Work in Georgia"

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pp. 245-271

Mary Latimer McLendon, like her better-known sister, Rebecca Latimer Felton, was raised in an antebellum slaveholding Georgia family and supported the Confederacy during the Civil War as a loyal daughter of the Old South. Following the war and Reconstruction, both Latimer sisters reacted to the end of their antebellum society by ...

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Mildred Lewis Rutherford (1851–1928): The Redefinition of New South White Womanhood

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pp. 272-296

Mildred Lewis Rutherford, club woman and educator, was one of the best-known Georgian women of the early twentieth century.1 Mostly remembered for her work in the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), Rutherford was also an educator and principal of one of the state's most prestigious schools for young women. ...

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Nellie Peters Black (1851–1919): Georgia's Pioneer Club Woman

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pp. 297-317

In 1868 seventeen-year-old Nellie Peters wrote in her school diary, "I slept and dreamed that life was beauty; I woke and found that life was duty." 1 Adhering always to this precept, Nellie Peters Black, Georgia's "Pioneer Club Woman," dedicated her life to organizing women for the purposes of benevolence, self-improvement, and social and civic reform. ...

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Lucy Craft Laney (1855–1933) and Martha Berry (1866–1942): Lighting Fires of Knowledge

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pp. 318-340

In one of the great changes that occurred after the Civil War, southerners, both black and white, redefined the meaning of education in the South. Southern states had not created public educational systems during the antebellum period; hence, possession of an education was reserved for the elite who could afford tutors and private schools. ...

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Corra Harris (1869–1935): The Storyteller as Folk Preacher

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pp. 341-369

Corra White Harris is largely forgotten now, although an Evangelical publishing house did publish her most famous book a few years ago under a slightly modified title. For the first decade of the twentieth century, however, she was a famed reviewer of books for the Independent magazine of New York City. In 1910 she published her ...

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Juliette Gordon Low (1860–1927): Late-Blooming Daisy

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pp. 370-390

Ask any Girl Scout, "Who was Juliette Low?" and she will almost always respond, "Founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States." More than eighty years after her death, Low remains a beloved figure among present and former Girl Scouts. The movement she launched in Savannah in 1912 has become an integral part of American girlhood; ...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 391-398


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pp. 399-402


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pp. 403-418

E-ISBN-13: 9780820339009
E-ISBN-10: 0820339008
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820333366
Print-ISBN-10: 0820333360

Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 18 b&w photos, 1 map
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: Volume 1
Series Title: Southern Women: Their Lives and Times
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 731902985
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Georgia Women

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Subject Headings

  • Georgia -- Biography.
  • Women -- Georgia -- History.
  • Women -- Georgia -- Biography.
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