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Primary Sources

Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, 1860-1866 (Raleigh NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979)

  • Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston (pictured) recorded in her diary her various emotional, social, and personal experiences, throughout the Civil War, that ultimately exposed the dominant attitude and perspective of a southern woman. Her diction, rhetoric, and elocution, throughout her diary, implies the fundamental values and expectations of the ideal Southern woman during the course of the Civil WarSecondary Sources


 Secondary Sources 

Censor, Jane Turner.The Reconstruction of White Southern Womanhood 1865-1895.Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. 2003. 

  • This secondary resouce focuses on elite white women in the upper South and argues that they reconfigured what it meant to be a "southern belle" in the years following the Civil War. Censer focuses on the most privileged white women in the upper South because their education and status gave them chances denied to others. She utilizes sources, such as land transactions and estate files, personal correspondence, memoirs, diaries, census records, and a number of literary monographs written by post-bellum southern women. She helps to breakdown and analyze the re-constructed ideal Southern woman after the Civil War. 



Faust, Drew Gilpin. Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

  • This secondary resource breaks down the Southern conception of women during the Civil War era to expose the social, emotional, and political shifts that transform women's role in society and in the home, specifically in the Confederate state of America. The Civil War challenged the established Southern patriarchal and racial institutions and reformed the idea of southern womanhood. Faust analyzes the personal relationship women had with southern politics and society, during this time, and provides readers with a sense of women's initiative and self-sacrifice to become a part of the broad national crisis and the revolution of women out of the private sphere and into the public sphere. 

Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth. Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South. The University of North Carolina Press, 1988.

  • This secondary source depicts the hierarchal class relations between white women slaveholders and slave women in the 19th century, that ultimately shapes women's female and social identities. She utilizes primary resources, such as diaries, letters, memoirs, and oral histories, to support her overall argument that the lives of Antebellum southern women, enslaved and free, differed fundamentally from those of northern women.