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Delicate Ladies and Brave Gentlemen: The Gendered Experience of the Civil War in North Carolina

This exhibit uses gender as a lens to look at the South during the Civil War. Examining the antebellum and war years shows the formation and devastation of southern society. “Home, Sweet, Home” focuses on antebellum gender roles and separate spheres ideology accepted by southerners. The call to war created a surge of patriotism and shifted roles for white men and women. “Protect Us!” uses North Carolina as a case study to show how the loss of protection and ruin of the home front destroyed southern society. The breakdown of separate spheres demonstrated the failure of the Confederate cause and reciprocal obligation. The Civil War challenged the established race, class and gender structure of the South by undermining white men’s authority over their dependents. During the Civil War in the South, gender roles became fluid and the implications of these changes shaped the South for years to come.


Elizabeth Vanek