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Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front / Edition 1

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Introducing readers to women whose Civil War experiences have long been ignored, Judith Giesberg examines the lives of working-class women in the North, for whom home front was a battlefield of its own.

Black and white working-class women managed farms that had been left without a male head of household, worked in munitions factories, made uniforms, and located and cared for injured or dead soldiers. As they became more active in their new roles, they became visible as political actors, writing letters, signing petitions, moving (or refusing to move) from their homes, and confronting civilian and military officials.

At the heart of the book are stories of women who fought the draft in New York and Pennsylvania, protested segregated streetcars in San Francisco and Philadelphia, and demanded a living wage in the needle trades and safer conditions at the Federal arsenals where they labored. Giesberg challenges readers to think about women and children who were caught up in the military conflict but nonetheless refused to become its collateral damage. She offers a dramatic reinterpretation of how America's Civil War reshaped the lived experience of race and gender and brought swift and lasting changes to working-class family life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A work that addresses a neglected and very important topic. . . . Highly recommended."

"A fine, well-written account that significantly enlarges our perspective of the often hidden, but no less dramatic, impact of the Civil War on Northern women."
-Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

"An original and fascinating contribution to the trend in Civil War studies that seeks to blur the traditional distinctions between the home front and the battlefield. . . . An important book that contributes to our understanding of the outcomes of the Civil War."
-The Journal of Southern History

"Persuasive . . . Giesberg's work leaves no room for doubt that the war dramatically altered the daily lives of working-class women, urban and rural, as well as the form and location of women's political engagement."
-The Annals of Iowa

"Relying on extensive, detailed research, Giesberg tells her story with clarity and verve. . . . This book goes far toward reminding us that the forgotten women who sewed the uniforms and made the munitions used in the war also felt that they sacrificed much, perhaps too much."
-American Historical Review

"Engaging. . . . Offers a distinctly new vantage point. . . . Original, thought-provoking, and insightful, this is a very valuable addition to Civil War scholarship."
-Civil War History

"Civil War buffs, feminists, and labor historians, students of the complex intersection of class, race, location, and gender will all thank Judith Giesberg for her thoughtful sketching out and then filling in of the void in our current portrait of women in the northern states during this volatile period in American history. . . . Draws together all available scarce resources to make a convincing argument for the major changes that took place in the lives of rural, working-class white, and African-American women as a result of the gaps and opportunities in culture created by the war."
-Journal of American Culture

"A valuable addition to the literature of the Union home front in general, not just that of Northern women. . . . Paints a rich portrait of the North. . . . This excellent work will quickly find its way onto many a syllabus, returning these women to their rightful place in the story of the American Civil War."
-Journal of American History

"Offers a new perspective on women in the Civil War North."
-Civil War Book Review

From the Publisher
An original and fascinating contribution to the trend in Civil War studies that seeks to blur the traditional distinctions between the home front and the battlefield. . . . An important book that contributes to our understanding of the outcomes of the Civil War.--The Journal of Southern History
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807833070
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Series: Civil War America Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Giesberg is assistant professor of history at Villanova University and author of Civil War Sisterhood: The United States Sanitary Commission and Women's Politics in Transition.

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