South Carolina Women
Their Lives and Times

Edited by Marjorie Julian Spruill, Valinda W. Littlefield, and Joan Marie Johnson
Volume 2

Life-and-times histories of women from South Carolina


"South Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times—Volume 2 makes a significant contribution to the body of knowledge about women's lives and work in a quintessentially southern state. Each of the women in this volume is well deserving of study, and together they flesh out a story that scholars have only begun to appreciate piecemeal. Collectively, they present a portrait of energetic and determined women, black and white, who saw needs and injustices in their world and took the responsibility upon themselves to meet those needs and try to right those injustices. Because most of the work on the evolution of women's political and social associations, their work for suffrage, and their impact on women's education and health needs has been focused on the northeastern and New England states, the essays in this volume, focused on black and white southern women, provide a significant addition to this emerging field."
—Elisabeth Muhlenfeld, President, Sweet Briar College

"South Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times—Volume 2 brings together distinguished historians who vividly recapture representative black and white South Carolina women. The articles are lively and the editors ground them in deep historical context that belies any notion of a stagnant state from Reconstruction to World War II. Read any one of these and you will want to read all."
—Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Peter V. and C. Vann Woodward Professor of History, Yale University

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The biographical essays in this volume provide new insights into the various ways that South Carolina women asserted themselves in their state and illuminate the tension between tradition and change that defined the South from the Civil War through the Progressive Era. As old rules—including gender conventions that severely constrained southern women—were dramatically bent if not broken, these women carved out new roles for themselves and others.

The volume begins with a profile of Laura Towne and Ellen Murray, who founded the Penn School on St. Helena Island for former slaves. Subsequent essays look at such women as the five Rollin sisters, members of a prominent black family who became passionate advocates for women’s rights during Reconstruction; writer Josephine Pinckney, who helped preserve African American spirituals and explored conflicts between the New and Old South in her essays and novels; and Dr. Matilda Evans, the first African American woman licensed to practice medicine in the state. Intractable racial attitudes often caused women to follow separate but parallel paths, as with Louisa B. Poppenheim and Marion B. Wilkinson. Poppenheim, who was white, and Wilkinson, who was black, were both driving forces in the women’s club movement. Both saw clubs as a way not only to help women and children but also to showcase these positive changes to the wider nation. Yet the two women worked separately, as did the white and black state federations of women’s clubs.

Often mixing deference with daring, these women helped shape their society through such avenues as education, religion, politics, community organizing, history, the arts, science, and medicine. Women in the mid- and late twentieth century would build on their accomplishments.

Southern Women: Their Lives and Times

Page count: 336 pp.
19 b&w and 7 color photos, 1 map
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $74.95

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Marjorie Julian Spruill is a professor of history at the University of South Carolina. Valinda W. Littlefield is an assistant professor of history at the University of South Carolina. Joan Marie Johnson is a lecturer at Northeastern Illinois University.