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

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

by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

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Documenting the difficult class relations between women slaveholders and slave women, this study shows how class and race as well as gender shaped women's experiences and determined their identities. Drawing upon massive research in diaries, letters, memoirs, and oral histories, the author argues that the lives of antebellum southern women, enslaved and free, differed fundamentally from those of northern women and that it is not possible to understand antebellum southern women by applying models derived from New England sources.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807864227
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 11/09/2000
Series: Gender and American Culture
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 568
Sales rank: 791,442
Lexile: 1370L (what's this?)
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (1941-2007) was Eleonore Raoul Professor of the Humanities and professor of history at Emory University. Her other books include Feminism Without Illusions: A Critique of Individualism and Fruits of Merchant Capital: Slavery and Bourgeois Property in the Rise and Expansion of Capitalism.

Table of Contents


Chapter One Southern Women, Southern Households
Chapter Two The View from the Big House
Chapter Three Between Big House and Slave Community
Chapter Four Gender Conventions
Chapter Five The Imaginative Worlds of Slaveholding Women: Louisa Susanna McCord and Her Countrywomen
Chapter Six Women Who Opposed Slavery
Chapter Seven And Women Who Did Not


John Gayle as governor of Alabama, ca. 1835 / 19
Gayle House, Greensboro, Alabama / 20
Letter from Sarah Gayle to John Gayle, 19 May 1831 / 21
Sand Hills Plantation, Richland County, South Carolina / 122
Pond Bluff Plantation, Berkeley County, South Carolina / 124
Gippy Plantation, Berkeley County, South Carolina / 125
Retreat Plantation, St. Simon's Island, Georgia / 125
Anna Matilda Page King, 1870 / 126
Kitchen and smokehouse on the Pond Bluff Plantation / 168
Kitchen on the Bloomsbury Plantation, Camden, South Carolina / 169
Woman and child in rice field, Sapelo Island, Georgia / 170
Woman at work, Ben Hill County, Georgia / 171
Keziah Goodwyn Hopkins Brevard, ca. 1830 / 217
Virginia Tunstall Clay, 1850s / 218
Octavia Walton LeVert, ca. 1840 / 220
Nancy Fort, ca. 1800 / 221
Bust of Louisa S. McCord / 264
McCord House, Columbia, South Carolina / 265
Caroline Georgia Wylly Couper, ca. 1830 / 266
Lucy Muse Walton Fletcher and the Reverend Patterson Fletcher, 1850s / 267
Women pounding rice, Sapelo Island, Georgia / 310
"Old Sarah," ca. 1840 / 311
Midwife in Glynn County, Georgia, ca. 1930 / 312
Mary Boykin Chesnut, ca. 1840 / 350
Lucy Muse Walton Fletcher, ca. 1870 / 351
Mulberry Plantation, near Camden, South Carolina / 352
Virginia Tunstall Clay-Clopton, 1860s / 353
Harriet Jacobs, ca. 1890 / 385
Letter from Harriet Jacobs to Amy Post, 23 May [n.d.] / 386

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Asks us to put aside simple generalizations and explore the complicated world that masters and slaves built together on their terms, not ours. . . . Fox-Genovese provides a rich analysis . . . without losing her critical eye or her amazing capacity for empathy. Like no other historian before or since.—Civil War Times

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese undertakes the enormous tasks of telling the life stories of the last generation of black and white women of the Old South, and of analyzing the meanings of these connected stories as a way of illuminating both Southern and women's history—tasks at which she succeeds brilliantly.—Mechal Sobel, New York Times Book Review

We have to thank a daughter of the Deep North for digging up and presenting more neglected testimony of plantation mistresses and their servants than has ever before been assembled so fully or organized and analyzed so cogently and provocatively.—C. Vann Woodward, New York Review of Books

An ambitious book that succeeds as history and as historiography. Weaving together multiple strands of analysis—including the psychological—Elizabeth Fox-Genovese elevates American women's history to a new level of sophistication.—Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton University

[A] well-written and thoroughly researched social history.—New Yorker

Virtually every sentence stimulates and every page challenges. . . . With a graceful and intelligent narrative, the author shows how and why Southern women did not—indeed could not—'participate in a sisterhood.' A vivid, extensive chonicle of Southern women's daily existence . . . is documented by passages from letters, diaries and oral histories—selectively and, consequently, effectively.—Publisher's Weekly

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