Beyond Image and Convention: Explorations in Southern by Janet L. Coryell

By Janet L. Coryell

Despite their triumphing photo and stereotype, southern girls have usually long past "beyond convention," dwelling on their lonesome phrases inside a society that respected culture and compliance. Spanning the colonial period to the mid-twentieth century, Beyond snapshot and Convention records girls from generally assorted social, monetary, spiritual, and ethnic backgrounds who acted outdoor the approved gender limitations in their day.

Reflecting the standard and breadth of present scholarship within the box of southern women's heritage, this selection of essays depends formerly untapped documentary proof and, within the approach, crafts provocative new interpretations of our collective earlier. The essays discover the ancient adventure of black and white southern ladies throughout approximately 3 centuries, together with a white woman's sexual misconduct in colonial North Carolina, one slave woman's profitable try to carve out an self reliant lifestyles in southwestern Virginia, an ex-slave's struggle for freedom in postbellum Missouri, and the civil rights activism of 2 white southern women—Sarah Patton Boyle of Virginia and Alice Norwood Spearman of South Carolina.

Breaking new floor within the research of women's heritage, Beyond photograph and Convention presents invaluable insights for either experts and normal readers.

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Useful contemporary work includes Susan Tucker, Telling Memories among Southern Women: Domestic Workers and Their Employers in the Segregated South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988); Judith Rollins, Between Women: Domestics and Their Employers (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1985). 7. Catharine E. Beecher, A Treatise on Domestic Economy, for the Use of Young Ladies at Home, and at School (1841; reprint, New York: Source Book Press, 1970), 200. 32 ANYA JABOUR Domestics throughout the nation struggled to assert their autonomy and gain respect, but white servants in slaveholding households had an additional reason to demand symbolic recognition.

In the South, where slavery continued to flourish, uncertainty about servants’ rights as free laborers may have been even more acute. Undoubtedly the connection between involuntary service and domestic service was more evident. In the Wirts’ case, obtaining “character” references for housekeepers was a technique they adapted from their 18. EW to WW, January 4, 1816, December 15, 1825, MHS. Antebellum servants were overwhelmingly native-born, and 90 percent were women. Native-born white servants were usually unmarried, divorced, or widowed.

Like other married women of her time and place, she was legally dependent on, and inferior to, her husband. William Wirt’s directive to one 13. WW to Benjamin Edwards, June 23, 1809, EW to WW, July 18, 1810, WW to EW, September 8, 1809, MHS; Mutual Assurance Society Fire Insurance Policy #1721, October 13, 1815, VSLA; WW to EW, April 9, September 11, October 4, 1809, MHS. 14. Bourne, First Family, 195–96. For similar uses of space in the north, see Dudden, Serving Women, 196; Sutherland, Americans and Their Servants, 114–17.

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