need help with historiography (women roles in civil war/early america)

Jul 2011
4
Toms River, NJ
#1
I am taking a summer course where my final paper will be to write a historiography (I still haven't figured out what that is or how to go about it)

It is a short course ending on July 29 so I need to grasp concepts quickly and reiterate my knowledge

Right now we are studying different theorists and methods

I am working on general ideas to come up with a topic for the big paper

Through my studies of the Civil War, I became fascinated with the roles of women in that society and military applications such as those that disguised themselves as men to fight for their ideals/family ect.

My general initial theme is titled secret soldiers, the changing roles of women in the civil war (or early american history)

I asked my professor for suggestions and he recommended "Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War" by Drew Gilpin Faust

Can anyone offer help in order to get this going? Other than to keep a large bottle of asprin when study gives me a headache.

At this point, my topic is not due till July 7. But I am trying to understand what the paper will have to be, in concept and then to get a start on research

Any help will be greatly appreciated
Tony
 

Louise C

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
7,239
Southeast England
#2
'America's Women, 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines' by Gail Collins is an extremely interesting book about the history of women in America from colonial times up until the present. it is packed with fascinating information.

The chapter on the Civil War is very interesting, and covers the different roles of women pretty comperehensively, those left to run farms and plantations in the absence of their husbands, nurses, the women who worked for the Sanitary Commission, the women who took over men's clerical jobs, the women who worked in munitions factories, the women who disguised themselves as men to fight etc. I would recommend it highly.

Many women had new experiences as a result of the war. it is interesting to see how differently some reacted to their new roles. For instance, of the women who took on clerical work in the south during the war, Gail Collins writes:

'Some of them regarded it as a great adventure. "I am rarely ill now even with a headache" reported twenty-year-old Adelaide Stuart, who spent her days signing Treasury bills and her nights sampling the still-active Richmond social whirl. Being forced to take a job, she decided was "the best thing that could have taken place for me - it is bringing into active service and strengthening all the best parts of my character and enabling me to root out all that was objectionable." Other women, however, were humiliated at being forced to work for pay, no matter how cushy the job and lucrative the check. "How mean I felt" wrote Mary Darby DeTreville, afrer she lined up for her wages.'
 
#3
The book "Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War" by H. Donald Winkler will get my vote as a worthy read on the subject.
 
Jul 2011
4
Toms River, NJ
#4
The book "Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War" by H. Donald Winkler will get my vote as a worthy read on the subject.
This is all a great start. I forgot to mention that my professor recommended this book as a starting point also.

He suggested that I to broaden your focus to how Women served in various capacities at the front.

Do you think there is enough scholarly work in this area to write a historiography?

Also, can you please explain how to approach the topic as a historiography and not a research paper?

I have tentatively titled my topic Secret Soldiers: Changing roles of women during the Civil War

Thanks to both of your outstanding recommendations I have two secondary sources to work with. But I was told to also look for book reviews, and works by other historians on this topic area.

If I understand a historiography I would be looking at how historians covered the different categories in this topic (ie. women as soldiers, nurses, how some were pressed int service to bury the dead, ...) Then I would look at specific works and how the recording of this changed during time?

Any help is very much appreciated. Thanks
 

d'artanian

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
2,950
USA
#5
Don't forget Harriet Beecher Stowe author of Uncle Tom's cabin. She may have been one of the greatest secret soldiers of the war as her book had a definite impact on society.

"Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century,[5] and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible.[6] It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s."

Uncle Tom's Cabin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

d'artanian

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
2,950
USA
#6
If I understand a historiography I would be looking at how historians covered the different categories in this topic (ie. women as soldiers, nurses, how some were pressed int service to bury the dead, ...) Then I would look at specific works and how the recording of this changed during time?

Any help is very much appreciated. Thanks
Maybe you can approach it by showing how historians have largely ignored the contributions of women?

This might be helpful:

Historiography - An Overview - The Historiography Page - Readings & Resources - R.A. Hatch - U. of Florida
 
Jul 2011
4
Toms River, NJ
#7
Don't forget Harriet Beecher Stowe author of Uncle Tom's cabin. She may have been one of the greatest secret soldiers of the war as her book had a definite impact on society.

"Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century,[5] and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible.[6] It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s."

Uncle Tom's Cabin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Oh my, how could I have forgotten that one. Thank you