Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

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Introduction

Lisa Lindquist Dorr

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pp. 15-23

When Alabama midwife Margaret Charles Smith declared in 1992, “I want a book about me,” she voiced a larger truth about women’s place not only in the history of Alabama but in history in general. In that statement, Smith acknowledged that women’s contribution to the lives and experiences of Alabama, while critical to the maintenance of communities, culture, and social relations, remained largely invisible. Smith’s experiences attested to that truth— she had worked for decades as a midwife for poor black women in the Black...

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The Indomitable Women of the Creek Removal Era: “Some One Must Have Told Her That I Meant to Run Away with Her”

Christopher D. Haveman

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pp. 24-53

Sometime in the spring of 1827, a Creek woman entered the Asbury Mission, a Methodist school established at Coweta (one mile north of Fort Mitchell) in the Creek Nation in 1821, and forcibly removed her seventeen- year- old daughter, Mary Ann Battis, from the compound. Battis’s mother and uncle were associated with the McIntosh party, a faction of the Creek Nation comprising primarily friends, followers, and family members of the late William McIntosh, a Coweta headman who in 1825 illegally ceded a large portion of the Creek...

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Augusta Evans Wilson: America’s Forgotten Best-Selling Author

Susan E. Reynolds

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pp. 54-72

Although few people know the name Augusta Evans Wilson today, her books ranked among the most popular American novels during the nineteenth century. In fact, her most famous novel, St. Elmo, “is believed to have sold more widely than any other single woman’s fiction, and is ranked among the most successful works published in the nineteenth century.” Most of what we know of her today results from the efforts of William Perry Fidler, author of the first biography about her, but many scholars are rediscovering her work and...

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The Townsend Family: African American Female “Voice” and Interracial Ties

Sharony Green

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pp. 73-88

It was August 1890. Carrie Leontee Townsend, a young African American woman, began a letter from her home in Brookhaven, Mississippi, not far from the Gulf Coast, where she lived with her family when she was not at New Orleans University. Possibly because she would soon be returning to school, Townsend was writing to her Uncle Thomas, who lived one state over in Huntsville, Alabama. Townsend shared the latest news about her household, noting that “Cousin Alice” was visiting from New Richmond, Ohio. She also had news...

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The Enslaved Women Surgical Patients of J. Marion Sims in Antebellum Alabama: Sisterhood of Shared Suffering

Harriet E. Amos Doss

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pp. 89-103

“Poor wretches!” exclaimed English naturalist Phillip Henry Gosse on a visit to Alabama cotton fields during harvest time in 1838 when he observed enslaved “women in this laborious occupation” of picking cotton while wearing ragged “clothing . . . barely sufficient for the claims of decency.” He believed the enslaved women’s “lot is harder than their brute companions in labour! For they have to perform an equal amount of toil, with the additional hardships of more whippings and less food.”1 As cotton production soared in central Alabama in...

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Maria Fearing: Domestic Adventurer

Kimberly D. Hill

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pp. 104-121

One sunny day about 120 years ago, a group of four friends spent a leisurely afternoon playing croquet. Their bright linen blouses and pith helmets looked genteel against the backdrop of thatched- roof houses, palm trees, and gaping fence posts. Two of the women—Lilian Thomas and Lucy Gantt Sheppard of Alabama—bent over their mallets, while Sheppard’s husband, the Reverend William H. Sheppard, looked down to contemplate his next play. Only the most petite lady in the group, Maria Fearing, looked up toward her colleagues and the...

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Julia S. Tutwiler: The Burdens of Paternalism and Race

Paul M. Pruitt Jr.

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pp. 122-142

Julia S. Tutwiler (1841–1916) was one of the ablest Alabamians of the New South era. The highly accomplished daughter of a famous schoolmaster, she dedicated herself to a life of service. She was so valiant and persistent that her name still lives—on university buildings, in the Julia Tutwiler State Prison for Women, and as author of the lyrics of “Alabama,” the state song sung by schoolchildren.1 Tutwiler taught at the Alabama Normal College in Livingston from 1881 to 1910, serving as principal for the last two decades of her tenure. A tireless proponent...

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Margaret Murray Washington: A Southern Reformer and the Black Women’s Club Movement

Sheena Harris

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pp. 143-158

On October 4, 1972, on the campus of Judson College in Marion, Alabama, the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame inducted its first African American member, Margaret Murray Washington. Prior to her death nearly fifty years earlier, she had been an educator, a Pan-Africanist, and a clubwoman. The Hall of Fame referred to her as “one of the greatest women of her century. . . . A woman of great compassion, intelligence, and independence of judgment.” Dr. Luther Hilton Foster Jr., the president of Tuskegee Institute, presented a short biographical sketch of Washington in which he asserted that she “dedicated her energies and...

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Pattie Ruffner Jacobs: Personal Anxiety / Political Triumph

Wayne Flynt and Marlene Hunt Rikard

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pp. 159-177

In July 1895, deep into one of her “blue” periods, nineteen- year- old Pattie Ruffner sat in the Birmingham home of her married sister and spilled her despair onto the pages of a well- worn diary. Although Pattie appeared gay and flirtatious to her circle of friends and suitors, her writing revealed an introspective and oft en insecure young woman frequently haunted by family traumas and thwarted ambitions. Unable to afford the college education she so desperately wanted, she agonized, “I so long to stretch my limbs before they are dwarfed...

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Ida E. Brandon Mathis: The One-Crop System and the Limits of Progressive Economic Reform

Rebecca S. Montgomery

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pp. 178-196

The emergence of Ida Mathis as a central figure in the early twentieth- century movement for crop diversification signaled how much had changed in the status of southern women since the Civil War. A married woman with a master’s degree and penchant for scientific agriculture, she launched a career advising men on how to make farming pay. She held her own with bankers and businessmen, managed unruly tenants, and canvassed the state and nation multiple times spreading her message of economic cooperation and social uplift . Her approach...

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Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald and Sara Martin Mayfield: “Alabama Modern”

Rebecca Cawood McIntyre

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pp. 197-222

On a sunny fall day in 1910, Zelda Sayre strapped on her roller skates. She stood at the summit of Sayre Street and looked down the hill. Then she crouched down and pushed off. Picking up speed, she careened past her elementary school and whizzed by the playground where her classmates were gathered. And then, right as she was about to go headlong into the red brick building at the bottom of the hill, she feinted to the left and came to a graceful stop. Her classmates were awestruck. The ten-year-old Zelda bowed and then climbed back up the hill to...

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Ruby Pickens Tartt: Composing a New Score

Tina Jones

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pp. 223-235

In 1936, while on a trip to Birmingham to evaluate folk material from Alabama for the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) as the national adviser for folklore and folkways for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), ethnomusicologist John A. Lomax asked Alabama FWP director Myrtle Miles where a stack of spirituals originated. Miles replied that a “Mrs. Tartt collected them.” Acknowledging that he had not heard half of the songs recorded by Ruby Pickens Tartt, Lomax said, “There are twenty-five spirituals here. One woman couldn’t have done that, not in one place. Just not possible.”1...

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Bess Bolden Walcott: A Legacy of Women’s Leadership at Tuskegee Institute

Caroline Gebhard

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pp. 236-252

Bess Bolden Walcott (1886–1988) lived almost all of her 101 years in rural Alabama. Her remarkable life included combating the pandemic flu of 1918, overseeing emergency relief during the Great Depression, serving her country and community in both world wars, and helping children recover from polio, a disease that killed and crippled thousands. Over her long, remarkable life, she volunteered her gifts as a leader, speaker, and writer, and when action was needed, she knew how to get things done. Others looked to B. B., as her friends called...

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Lebanese, Italian, and Slavic Immigrant Women in Metropolitan Birmingham: “Just Mud Roads”

Staci Glover

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pp. 253-268

In the post–Civil War era, southern leaders found themselves faced with the problem of how to compete effectively with the North on an increasingly industrializing national stage. In the antebellum period, southern industry had been small at best, confined mostly to textile mills, small mining operations, and small ironworks, while heavy industry was practically nonexistent. James M. McPherson and others have shown that the South’s lack of capital investment in industry outside agriculture resulted not from insufficient financial resources...

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Margaret Charles Smith: Lessons from Midwifery

Jenny M. Luke

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pp. 269-283

In May 1985, the Eutaw, Alabama, city council gave the key to the city to its first African American recipient, seventy- nine- year- old lay midwife Margaret Charles Smith, and declared Margaret Charles Smith Day in honor of her commitment and dedication to improving maternity care for women in the community. Until the late 1970s, when Alabama and other southern states outlawed midwifery, thousands of lay midwives provided maternity care to women who would otherwise have received no care. Much has been written about the demise of southern black midwives. However, by focusing mainly on the...

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Virginia Foster Durr: “The Liberation of Pure White Southern Womanhood”

Patricia Sullivan

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pp. 284-300

When she was in her sixties, Virginia Foster Durr attempted to write her memoir, intending to call it The Liberation of Pure White Southern Womanhood. Durr’s life, which spanned the twentieth century, is a story of a woman who defied the expectations that structured the lives of white southern women of her generation. Personal characteristics and experiences along with historical timing combined to create Durr’s opportunities. Born to privilege in the shadow of the Civil War, she had a keen mind, a restless curiosity, and a sharp moral compass....

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Rosa Parks: “I Don’t Know Whether I Could Have Been More Effective . . . in the South Than I Am Here in Detroit”

Jeanne Theoharis

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pp. 301-321

Rosa Parks may well be one of the most famous Alabamians in history. Born in Tuskegee and raised in Pine Level, Parks spent nearly twenty-five years of her adult life in Montgomery, tilling the ground for a broader movement for racial justice to flower. Aft er joining a small cadre of activists in transforming Montgomery’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (naacp), she served as secretary of the branch for most of the next twelve years and in the late 1940s was elected secretary of the group’s Alabama...

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Lurleen Burns Wallace: Making Her Way in Wallace Country

Susan Youngblood Ashmore

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pp. 322-347

Monday, January 16, 1967, turned out to be a bright, cold day that was perfect for the thousands of spectators celebrating the inauguration of Alabama’s first woman governor. Th e largest parade in the state’s history stretched ten miles and took five hours to pass the reviewing stand where the Wallace family stood, waving at each passing group. Confederate battle flags were everywhere, twenty- one bands played “Dixie” when they reached the viewing stand, and some of the rotc groups marched proudly holding their bayonets at the ready.1...

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Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird and “A Good Woman’s Words”

Nancy Grisham Anderson

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pp. 348-360

In July 1960, few people would have imagined the phenomenal success ahead for Harper Lee’s first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. However, Lee’s childhood friend, Truman Capote, might have been among those who did: in a 1959 letter, he wrote: “Yes, it is true that Nelle Lee is publishing a book. I did not see Nelle last winter, but the previous year she showed me as much of the book as she’d written, and I like it very much. She has real talent.”1 Even that praise, however, does not hint at the novel’s continuing success more than half a century after its...

Contributors

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pp. 361-364

Index

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pp. 365-378