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Within the Plantation Household : Black and White Women of the Old South


Within the Plantation Household : Black and White Women of the Old South


Fox-Genovese 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.


Elizabeth Fox-Genovese


Elizabeth Fox-Genovese. Within the Plantation Household:Black and White Women of the Old South. The University of North Carolina Press.1988.37-38.



Original Format



Antebellum southern women, like all others, lived in a discrete social system and political economy within which gender, class, and race relations shaped their lives and identities. Thus, even a preliminary sketch of the history of southern women must attend scrupulously both to their immediate conditions and to the larger social system in which the immediate conditions were embedded and by which they are informed. We have, in a sense, two views; the view from within and the view from without-the view of participants and the view of historians. Women do not normally experience their lives as manifestations of the laws of political economy, although they may register sharply the vicissitudes of economic fortunes. The papers of southern women accounts of troubles with servants, and children, of struggles for faith, of friendships, and of turning hems. These intimate personal details and perceptions constitute a valuable record in themselves and suggest patterns of a larger social experience.


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Elizabeth Fox-Genovese , Within the Plantation Household : Black and White Women of the Old South, Civil War Era NC, accessed May 26, 2024,