Single, White, Slaveholding Women in the Nineteenth-Century American South investigates the lives of unmarried white women--from the pre- to the post-Civil War South--within a society that placed high value on women's marriage and motherhood. Marie S. Molloy examines female singleness to incorporate non-marriage, widowhood, separation, and divorce. These single women were not subject to the laws and customs of coverture, in which females were covered or subject to the governance of fathers, brothers, and husbands, and therefore lived with greater autonomy than married women.
Molloy contends that the Civil War proved a catalyst for accelerating personal, social, economic, and legal changes for these women. Being a single woman during this time often meant living a nuanced life, operating within a tight framework of traditional gender conventions while manipulating them to greater advantage. Singleness was often a route to autonomy and independence that over time expanded and reshaped traditional ideals of southern womanhood.
Molloy delves into these themes and their effects through the lens of the various facets of the female life: femininity, family, work, friendship, law, and property. By examining letters and diaries of more than three hundred white, native-born, southern women, Molloy creates a broad and eloquent study on the relatively overlooked population of single women in both the urban and plantation slaveholding South. She concludes that these women were, in various ways, pioneers and participants of a slow, but definite process of change in the antebellum era.
|Publisher:||University of South Carolina Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)|
About the Author
Marie S. Molloy is a lecturer in American history at Manchester Metropolitan University and an honorary research fellow at Keele University in the United Kingdom. She earned her Ph.D. in American history at Keele University and is working on a book-length study of a select group of single women during the turbulent times of the American Civil War South. Molloy lives in Nantwich in Cheshire, England, with her husband and their three daughters.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations viii
Chapter 1 The Construction of Femininity in the Antebellum South 11
Chapter 2 Single Women and the Southern Family 40
Chapter 3 Work 74
Chapter 4 Female Friendship 110
Chapter 5 Law, Property, and the Single Woman 134