Roots and Ever Green
The Selected Letters of Ina Dillard Russell

Edited by Sally Russell

Letters from the matriarch of an influential Georgia family define the complex patterns of women’s lives in the post-Civil War South

Reviews

"A first hand account of a woman's life during an important period in southern history and one for which we have surprisingly little material of this kind . . . [A] remarkable story that draws the reader into the fabric of a woman's life and brings alive the values and commitments she honored."
—Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, author of Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South


Description
When Ina Dillard Russell died in 1953, flags throughout Georgia were lowered to half-mast in honor of her dedication to her state, community, and family. Roots and Ever Green is the engaging true story, told through her letters, of this remarkable woman's life at the turn of the century in a dramatically changing South.

Born in 1868, Ina Dillard grew up in rural Georgia during Reconstruction. After Ina married Richard Brevard Russell, an Athens lawyer and future chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, in 1891, the simple life she had imagined was transformed. Russell became the matriarch of a large and influential family and raised thirteen children, including future Georgia governor and U.S. Senator Richard Russell. This energetic and talented woman balanced her household, family, and social responsibilities with extraordinary skill, reinventing traditional roles to accommodate her active life.

The letters presented in this volume are selections from the estimated three thousand that Russell wrote to her children and husband during her lifetime. Ranging from the turn of the century to the early years of the Great Depression, they provide an intimate view of what life was like for many women in the South during a time of great political and social upheaval. From guidelines on manners, nutrition, and fashion to instructions on education, motherhood, and home health remedies, she offers insights into the numerous roles women were expected to fill. Not limited to family matters, Russell's letters record her views on politics, football, the World Wars, music, and life in various Georgia towns. A frequent traveler, she also offers entertaining anecdotes of her excursions and descriptions of the people she met. This intimate, detailed portrait of one woman's life chronicles a critical period of change in the roles and ambitions of women in the South and in the United States.

Page count: 400 pp.
Illustrated
Trim size: 6 x 9

Read more about Ina Dillard Russell at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

 



Hardcover
List price: $51.95
978-0-8203-2138-7
12/09/1999

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Sally Russell, formerly a professor of English and French at Gainesville College, now lives and writes in England. She is a granddaughter of Ina Dillard Russell.