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xi Preface The three volumes of South Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times highlight the long and fascinating history of the women of the Palmetto State, women whose stories have often been told as well as women whose lives warrant far more attention than they have received. The collection of essays is designed to enrich our understanding of the history of South Carolina and the nation as we examine the lives and times of the dozens of women whose stories appear within. The essays are intended to be of interest to a wide audience as well as useful to scholars at every level. For that reason we have chosen a “life and times” approach, through which the lives of individual women are explored within the context of time and place. As editors we have not attempted to be inclusive: there are countless notable women in the history of the Palmetto State. Readers seeking information on these women should refer to The South Carolina Encyclopedia, edited by Walter B. Edgar.1 We do seek, however, to be representative, to include in these pages accounts of women from the Carolina Lowcountry, the Midlands, and Upstate; from all social classes; and from the many racial, ethnic, and religious groups that have made the history of South Carolina so full and rich. The women featured in the three volumes range from the well known to the largely forgotten and were involved in many different occupations. They include, among others, a Native American queen, a Catholic mother superior, an entrepreneurial farmwife, a nascar driver, and a Supreme Court justice. There are enslaved women and slave mistresses, free black women and poor white women, black and white civil rights activists. Some of these women are quite famous, having earned distinction in a wide variety of areas. Many were pathbreakers for their sex. Others led quiet, even ordinary lives, serving their families and society in ways that were fairly typical and that rendered their stories quite obscure though no less meaningful . Most lived in an era when prevailing customs dictated that women were not to play public roles or to engage significantly in activities beyond home and family, a time when a respectable woman’s name appeared in the papers only in the announcement of her engagement or in her obituary. A proper woman, it was said, did not seek the limelight. xii Preface Thus we have the saying “well-behaved women seldom make history,” which is true all too often—although not always—in South Carolina.2 Most of these women were “well behaved” and well respected even in their times, though some created considerable controversy—a few to the point that they felt they needed to leave the state. For the most part, however, those who were social critics and who sought to reform their society seemed to navigate South Carolina and southern culture—with all its restrictions on the lives of women—in such a way that they lived comfortably or at least quietly among fellow South Carolinians—even as they fostered change through their ideas and actions. For some, the ability to so navigate was the key to their success. This was of course easiest to do if a woman was from the white elite, protected by racial and class privilege and influential relations. The South Carolina women who were reformers and African American had the most to protest and the least protection but still won great admiration in many circles and, at least in the late twentieth century, managed to prevail. As we began the task of collecting essays for this project, we anticipated publishing only one volume. As we learned, however, of more and more women whose stories we wanted to tell and found more and more talented scholars interested in writing about them, the project soon grew to three volumes. And still, there are countless South Carolina women whose stories are also compelling and enlightening and awaiting the attention of future scholars. The history of women in South Carolina has grown along with the field of women’s history. Early books on southern women, including Julia Cherry Spruill’s Women’s Life and Work in the Southern Colonies (1938), did not focus on South Carolina women in particular but included them.3 This was also true of the work of pioneering historian Mary Elizabeth Massey, who spent much of her distinguished career at South Carolina’s Winthrop College and whose work, especially Bonnet Brigades: American Women and the Civil War...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780820343815
Related ISBN
9780820342146
MARC Record
OCLC
794555361
Pages
488
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-26
Language
English
Open Access
No
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