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BOOK REVIEWS28I Patriotic Toil: Northern Women and the American Civil War. By Jeanie Attie. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998. Pp. 293. $37.50.) The Civil War has never been a congenial setting for women's history. Most students of the conflict, preoccupied with military matters, rely on sentimental perceptions of female patriotism in the North and South. A few dismissive comments on nursing, sewing, and encouraging the participation of male relatives seem to suffice for coverage of Civil War women. Accepting the postwar descriptions offemales as universally loyal and sacrificial, most scholars continue to depend on one-dimensional readings of what Gerda Lemeronce called "contributory women's history." In such an approach, women's production of socks and bedding, jams, and patriotic exhortation to the men in the family is heralded. Recently, feminist historians have deepened our understandings of Civil War women. In turn, their investigations also have enlarged our comprehension of the meaning ofthe war itself. Jeanie Artie's Patriotic Toil: Northern Women and the American Civil Warjoins this growing body of distinguished historical literature. Artie's investigation centers on the U.S. Sanitary Commission and its relation to the Women's Central Relief Association (WCRA), the latter organized by Drs. Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell to centralize the relief efforts of women. But within a few months the U.S. Sanitary Commission, itself formed to manage wartime volunteerism and promote the nationalist agendas ofmen like Henry Bellows and Frederick Law Olmsted, absorbed the WCRA. For the rest of the war the WCRA and its secretary, Louisa Schuyler, served as the liaison between the Sanitary Commission and thousands of Northern women organized into fourteen hundred local soldiers' aid societies. It was the latter who contributed unpaid labor, services and money to the Sanitary Commission's often-praised humanitarian enterprises. In the critical contribution that Patriotic Toil makes to our understanding of the Civil War, Atie emphasizes that the relationship was often hostile. Women, previously architects of their own versions of female benevolence and managers of the unpaid housework which their contributions to the cause now were based on, found that their contributions had monetary value. Certainly the Sanitary Commission, with its clamorous appeals for female sacrifice, made Northem women conscious ofthe public importance oftheir unpaid labor. The agency also highlighted conflicts about the nature of civic obligations for a part of the northern public who were not considered citizens. "What, in fact," asks Attie "was a woman's obligation to the state in wartime?" Before the war, Nothem women had acceded to what Attie constructs as a compromise, trading to men political access in the public world in exchange for their own control in arranging the households of America. The war challenged the nature of this compromise. In this tension lies Artie's sophisticated analysis of Northern women's activities. Artie's title is too expansive, these are a few Northern women. Some of her propositions are assertions, not supported, though not necessarily contradicted, 282CIVIL WAR HISTORY by evidence. And her speculations as to the impact of the war on future female understandings are framed as "perhapses." But Patriotic Toil is an important book that makes more concrete and palpable the response of Northern women to the Civil War. Jean H. Baker Goucher College The PopularPress, 1833-1865. By William E. Huntzicker. The History ofAmerican Journalism. (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Pp. xii, 224. $65.00.) This book, the third in the History of American Journalism series, addresses journalistic developments in the period from the Age of Jackson through the Civil War. William Huntzicker discusses the emergence ofthe commercial penny press, starting with the New York Sun, and moves on to discuss the emergence of other similar papers, primarily in New York. Next, he offers an overview of the partisan press, magazines, and publications related to abolitionist, minority, and women's groups. He then discusses the impact of the Civil War on the press, focusing on the relationship between the press and politicians and the military. A final chapter provides commentary on the impact ofthe Civil War, industrialism , and commercialism on the changing nature of the press. Huntzicker maintains that the transition from the partisan press to the popular press...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 281-282
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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