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The Woman’s Fight: The Civil War’s Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation

Historians of the Civil War often speak of "wars within a war"--the military fight, wartime struggles on the home front, and the political and moral battle to preserve the Union and end slavery. In this broadly conceived book, Thavolia Glymph provides a comprehensive new history of women's roles and lives in the Civil War--North and South, white and black, slave and free--showing how women were essentially and fully engaged in all three arenas. Glymph focuses on the ideas and ideologies that drove women's actions, allegiances, and politics. We encounter women as they stood their ground, moved into each other's territory, sought and found common ground, and fought for vastly different principles. Some women used all the tools and powers they could muster to prevent the radical transformations the war increasingly imposed, some fought with equal might for the same transformations, and other women fought simply to keep the war at bay as they waited for their husbands and sons to return home.

Date & Time

Nov. 4, 2020
4:00pm – 5:30pm

Location

Zoom Webinar
This event will be webcast live

The Woman’s Fight: The Civil War’s Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation

Click here to register for the webinar. Space in the Zoom webinar is available on a first-come first-serve basis and fills up very quickly.

Historians of the Civil War often speak of "wars within a war"--the military fight, wartime struggles on the home front, and the political and moral battle to preserve the Union and end slavery. In this broadly conceived book, Thavolia Glymph provides a comprehensive new history of women's roles and lives in the Civil War--North and South, white and black, slave and free--showing how women were essentially and fully engaged in all three arenas. Glymph focuses on the ideas and ideologies that drove women's actions, allegiances, and politics. We encounter women as they stood their ground, moved into each other's territory, sought and found common ground, and fought for vastly different principles. Some women used all the tools and powers they could muster to prevent the radical transformations the war increasingly imposed, some fought with equal might for the same transformations, and other women fought simply to keep the war at bay as they waited for their husbands and sons to return home.

Glymph shows how the Civil War exposed as never before the nation's fault lines, not just along race and class lines but also along the ragged boundaries of gender. However, Glymph makes clear that women's experiences were not new to the mid-nineteenth century; rather, many of them drew on memories of previous conflicts, like the American Revolution and the War of 1812, to make sense of the Civil War's disorder and death.

Thavolia Glymph is professor of history and law at Duke University, faculty research scholar in the Duke Population Research Institute (DuPRI), and faculty affiliate in the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies.  She is the author of Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (Cambridge University Press, 2008), which received the Philip Taft Book Prize winner and was a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize.  Her most recent book is The Women’s Fight: The Civil War’s Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation (University of North Carolina Press, 2020).  She is also co-editor of two volumes of the prize-winning series Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867 (Cambridge University Press) and has authored numerous articles and essays including “Rose’s War and the Gendered Politics of a Slave Insurgency in the Civil War” which won the George and Ann Richards Prize for the best article published in The Journal of the Civil War Era in 2013.  She is currently completing two book manuscripts: African American Women and Children Refugees: A History of Warand the Making of Freedom in the Civil War, (supported by a grant from the NIH) and Playing “Dixie” in Egypt: White Civil War Veterans in the Egyptian Army and Transnational Transcripts of Race, Empire, and Citizenship, 1869-1882. Glymph is president of the Southern Historical Association, an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, and an elected member of the Society of American Historians, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Gettysburg Foundation Board of Directors. She was a 2018 Thomas Langford Lecturer at Duke and the John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of American Legal History at Duke Law School in 2015 and 2018, and recently served as a Senior Project Scholar at the National Constitution Center. Her work has been featured on NPR, BBC, and PBS, and in the New York Times, Slate and the PBS documentary, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross,” with Henry Louis Gates. She served as a historical consultant for the documentary, Mercy Street, and the film Harriet.  

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University and the National History Center) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is organized jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks its anonymous individual donors and institutional partners (the George Washington University History Department and the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest) for their continued support.