- Northern Women
In 2002, Thavolia Glymph concluded that, despite decades of exciting work on gender and race, "the Civil War and Reconstruction remains the most racially gendered and regionally segregated historiographical space in U.S. history." Glymph's bibliography included at least twelve recently published monographs and essays explicitly devoted to women of color in the South; three that explored the wartime and postwar experiences of northern women of color. Three!
Why was the scholarship on the experiences of women of color in the North so scarce? The most obvious answer is that to capture the dynamic transition from slavery to freedom, the new work on slavery and emancipation that has revitalized Civil War scholarship has primarily focused on the South. And, as Glymph explained, Civil War scholars generally stay away from gender, while scholars of gender, women's history, and African American history avoid the Civil War—or at least they don't consider what they do Civil War history. (The program of the 2011 Berkshire Conference on the History of Women suggests that little has changed: out of well over five hundred papers, fourteen covered the period of the war and engaged questions about it. None mentioned "Civil War" in the title.) Today, is the scholarship on the Civil War's northern home front still racially gendered— that is, do scholars continue to ignore women of color? Census officials counted nearly 180,000 "free colored females" living in the North on the eve of the war. They found these women, but have we? [End Page 9]