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Entering the Fray

Gender, Politics, and Culture in the New South

Edited by Jonathan Daniel Wells & Sheila R. Phipps

Publication Year: 2009

The study of the New South has in recent decades been greatly enriched by research into gender, reshaping our understanding of the struggle for woman suffrage, the conflicted nature of race and class in the South, the complex story of politics, and the role of family and motherhood in black and white society. This book brings together nine essays that examine the importance of gender, race, and culture in the New South, offering a rich and varied analysis of the multifaceted role of gender in the lives of black and white southerners in the troubled decades of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 
Ranging widely from conservative activism by white women in 1920s Georgia to political involvement by black women in 1950s Memphis, many of these essays focus on southern women’s increasing public activities and high-profile images in the twentieth century. They tell how women shouldered responsibilities for local, national, and international interests; but just as nineteenth-century women’s status could be at risk from too much public presence, women of the New South stepped gingerly into the public arena, taking care to work within what they considered their current gender limitations.
The authors—both established and up-and-coming scholars—take on subjects that reflect wide-ranging, sophisticated, and diverse scholarship on black and white women in the New South. They include the efforts of female Home Demonstration Agents to defeat debilitating diseases in rural Florida and the increasing participation of women in historic preservation at Monticello. They also reflect unique personal stories as diverse as lobbyist Kathryn Dunaway’s efforts to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in Georgia and Susan Smith’s depiction by the national media as a racist southerner during coverage of her children’s deaths.
Taken together, these nine essays contribute to the picture of women increasing their movement into political and economic life while all too often still maintaining their gendered place as determined by society. Their rich insights provide new ways to consider the meaning and role of gender in the post–Civil War South.

Published by: University of Missouri Press


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-x

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Editors’ Introduction

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pp. 1-10

The study of the New South, the period from emancipation in 1865 to the modern era, has been greatly enriched by the growing number of studies on gender and society in the past few decades. Works employing gender as a category of analysis have altered and reshaped our historiographical understanding of the struggle for woman suffrage, the...

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Myth, Memory, and the Making of Lottie Moon

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pp. 11-41

What women have a right to demand is perfect equality,” wrote Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon in 1883 from her post in northern China.1 Angry that many female missionaries were not allowed to vote on policy matters at their stations, Moon made her feelings clear to her constituents in the United States and her colleagues in China. The words she penned may sound more like those of a suffragist than a religious

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“To Do Her Duty Nobly and Well”: White Women’s Organizations in Georgia Debate Woman Suffrage, 1910–1920

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pp. 42-67

Mary McLendon, president of the Georgia Woman Suffrage Association and leading member of the Georgia Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), rose before the delegates of the 1910 Georgia WCTU annual convention to speak on behalf of woman suffrage. Hoping to recruit support for her cause, she appealed to the progressive ...

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“Consumed with a Ghastly Wasting”: Home Demonstration Confronts Disease in Rural Florida, 1920–1945

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pp. 68-95

In 1910 and 1911, three-year old Maggie Bryant and her three older brothers, Albert, Thurman, and Langley, all visited a Florida State Board of Health physician, and all learned they had hookworm. Little Maggie, though a new victim, already suffered from “marked anemia, pot belly and dry hair.” Her brothers demonstrated the long-term effects of living with hookworm. Sixteen-year old Albert’s affliction was most severe, his condition...

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Playing with Jim Crow: Children’s Challenges to Segregated Recreational Space in New Orleans, 1945–1949

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pp. 96-117

In October 1946, a group of African American girls in Jim Crow New Orleans played undisturbed in the backyard of a biracial union hall until several white children began peering at them through the fence. Aggravated by the unwanted attention, one of the black girls shouted at the staring children. A white girl responded by tossing a rock over the fence and...

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A Woman’s Touch: Gender at Monticello, 1945–1960

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pp. 118-135

When William Sampson, a tourist from New Jersey, returned home in 1961 after a vacation to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s historic plantation, he dashed off a long letter to the estate’s superintendent. He began with praise for the building and the hostess who led his tour group, but then quickly turned to criticizing the talk she...

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“Women Did Everything Except Run”: Black Women’s Participation in the 1959 Volunteer Ticket Campaign in Memphis, Tennessee

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pp. 136-160

Never before in the memory of living Memphis’ colored folks has there been so much ‘politics’ talk in the air,” observed Nat D. Williams, a long-time black journalist in the city. “Under every vine, fig tree, and many cotton stalks[,] conversations are swirling around the subject of politicians, political candidates, and political side-taking, like whirlpools...

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Organizing Breadmakers: Kathryn Dunaway’s ERA Battle and the Roots of Georgia’s Republican Revolution

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pp. 161-183

In 1974, Georgia state legisla tors received an early Val entine from some special constituents. A group of women opposing the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) wrapped individual loaves of freshly baked bread and added the note: “From the breadmaker to the breadwinner.”1 The occasion was the first floor vote on the ERA in the Georgia House. The previous...

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“Look for the Union Label”: Organizing Women Workers and Women Consumers in the Southern Apparel Industry

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pp. 184-202

In 1975 the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) label became one of the most widely recognized symbols in the history of the American labor movement. Of all the strikes and strategies the United States apparel unions have utilized since World War II, none has been as popular or more readily recognized than the ILGWU song and television...

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The “Modern-Day Medea”: Susan Smith and the National Media

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pp. 203-226

On November 4, 1994, an angry mob greeted the nation’s most infamous mother, Susan Smith, at the Union County, South Carolina, courthouse for her bond hearing. The previous evening, Smith had broken hearts around the world when she confessed to murdering her two young sons, aged 3 and 14 months, by rolling her car, with the boys...

About the Contributors

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pp. 226-228


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pp. 229-238

Back Cover

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p. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780826272089
E-ISBN-10: 0826272088
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826218636
Print-ISBN-10: 0826218636

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: charts
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: 1