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Writing Women’s History

A Tribute to Anne Firor Scott

Elizabeth Anne Payne

Publication Year: 2011

Anne Firor Scott's The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830-1930 stirred a keen interest among historians in both the approach and message of her book. Using women's diaries, letters, and other personal documents, Scott brought to life southern women as wives and mothers, as members of their communities and churches, and as sometimes sassy but rarely passive agents. She brilliantly demonstrated that the familiar dichotomies of the personal versus the public, the private versus the civic, which had dominated traditional scholarship about men, could not be made to fit women's lives. In doing so, she helped to open up vast terrains of women's experiences for historical scholarship.

This volume, based on papers presented at the University of Mississippi's annual Chancellor Porter L. Fortune Symposium in Southern History, brings together essays by scholars at the forefront of contemporary scholarship on American women's history. Each regards The Southern Lady as having shaped her historical perspective and inspired her choice of topics in important ways. These essays together demonstrate that the power of imagination and scholarly courage manifested in Scott's and other early American women historians' work has blossomed into a gracious plentitude.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright, Frontispiece, Dedication

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pp. ix-xi

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A Student’s Perspective

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pp. xiii-xiv

I have asked myself how I could possibly represent Dr. Scott’s students, having taken one course from her that lasted a mere three weeks and was not even held at her home institution. Then I had an aha moment, a moment of clarity, even a revelation: I cannot. But if I can recall with such pleasure my experience in Dr. Scott’s class and the passion...

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pp. xv-xviii

This book is a tribute to a scholar who has changed the way we see the past. Since 1970, when her first book, The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830–1930, launched the modern study of southern women’s history, Anne Firor Scott has pursued a stirring project: making the invisible visible, teaching us to hear the unheard.1 In so doing, she...

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Equally Their Due: Women’s Education and Public Life in Postrevolutionary and Antebellum America

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pp. 3-27

Standing before students and teachers at Litchfield Female Academy in the fall of 1818, Sarah Pierce called on the women who were attending the school she headed to “vindicate the equality of female intellect.” Four years earlier, Pierce had introduced a curriculum that provided the tools with which her students might achieve that vindication. Grounded...

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Down from the Pedestal: The Influence of Anne Scott’s Southern Ladies

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pp. 28-63

I first read Anne Scott’s The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics as an undergraduate at Northwestern University in the early 1980s, while writing a paper on the status of antebellum plantation mistresses for a course in U.S. social history. When I selected the topic at the beginning of the quarter, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The only...

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“How are the daughters of Eve punished?”: Rape during the Civil War

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pp. 64-81

As a young girl growing up in the South, I was forced to watch Gone with the Wind throughout my primary and secondary education. As May dwindled into June, teachers grew weary of lecturing on multiplication tables or constitutional history and resorted to showing “historical films” to pass the time, with Gone with the Wind at the top of the list. I hated the movie at every age—and not because I...

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“A Quilt unlike Any Other”: Rediscovering the Work of Harriet Powers

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pp. 82-116

In an essay published in Ms. magazine in 1974, Alice Walker wrote of “a quilt unlike any other in the world” that she had seen on exhibit at the Smithsonian: “It is considered rare, beyond price. Though it follows no known pattern of quilt-making, and though it is made of bits and pieces of worthless rags, it is obviously the work of a person...

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Taking Care of Bodies, Babies, and Business: Black Women Health Professionals in South Carolina, 1895–1954

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pp. 117-141

Anne Firor Scott enjoined my generation of students and scholars to make women and their activism for social reform visible, to relocate their experiences and contributions from the intellectual, cultural, and political margins to the core of American and southern history. She, in her own body of work, made centering and seeing critical...

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From Jim Crow to Jane Crow, or How Anne Scott and Pauli Murray Found Each Other

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pp. 142-171

Guion Johnson was home alone on an early spring afternoon in 1939 when the ringing telephone pierced the silence. It was a school day, and she was president of the PTA at Chapel Hill High School. Her husband, Guy Johnson, was up in New York talking to a visitor from Sweden, Gunnar Myrdal, whom the Ford Foundation had hired...

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The Million Mom March: The Perils of Color-Blind Maternalism

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pp. 172-202

On the first Mother’s Day of the new millennium, a Connecticut mother told hundreds of thousands gathered for the Million Mom March the story of her son. He had survived a head shot by a gunman who took a .380 semiautomatic Beretta handgun to the top of the Empire State Building and opened fire. “I received a phone call...

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Writing Women’s History: A Response

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pp. 203-210

Only forty years ago it was possible to read all the books on women’s history in the University of North Carolina library in a week. Now we all complain about the impossibility of keeping up with the flood of books and articles, conferences and sources. The rapid growth of the field of women’s history in four decades may be unprecedented...


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pp. 211-221


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pp. 223-231

E-ISBN-13: 9781617031748
E-ISBN-10: 1617031747
Print-ISBN-13: 9781617031731
Print-ISBN-10: 1617031739

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2011