Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Historical & Political Studies; College of Arts & Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Geoffrey Haywood

Abstract

This project examines the rise and fall of various women’s organizations in the approximately half century following the American Civil War, focusing specifically on how these organizations strove to alter the historical narrative of the war and the Confederacy. By examining the broader trend of Ladies’ Memorial Associations and the resulting creation of the United Daughters of the Confederacy – a memorial group still active today – it becomes clear how and why the narrative of the Civil War differs so drastically between the north and the south. Through an examination of the origins of these women’s movements, as well as an analysis of the various activities they engaged in, this paper aims to explain the process by which these women were able to change the accepted historical narrative of this period. The source material for this project includes the authoritative texts on women and the Lost Cause, documentation of the various monuments and memorials erected to the memory of Confederate veterans, as well as various texts written by these organizations explaining their methods and purpose. The white southern women of the immediate post-war era are an interesting example of how the historical narrative of a region can become intentionally biased through an organized effort, as well as how women of this time period utilized the often patriarchal structure of their culture in order to make an impact on the next generation. Through their involvement in supposedly benevolent activities, such as memorialization, education, and preservation of “true” history, these women were able to almost completely rewrite the history of the Civil War, and indoctrinate entire generations of southern children into this belief system, leading to the perpetuation of dangerous misinformation into the modern era.

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Altered Narratives: How Women Changed History in the Post-Civil War South

This project examines the rise and fall of various women’s organizations in the approximately half century following the American Civil War, focusing specifically on how these organizations strove to alter the historical narrative of the war and the Confederacy. By examining the broader trend of Ladies’ Memorial Associations and the resulting creation of the United Daughters of the Confederacy – a memorial group still active today – it becomes clear how and why the narrative of the Civil War differs so drastically between the north and the south. Through an examination of the origins of these women’s movements, as well as an analysis of the various activities they engaged in, this paper aims to explain the process by which these women were able to change the accepted historical narrative of this period. The source material for this project includes the authoritative texts on women and the Lost Cause, documentation of the various monuments and memorials erected to the memory of Confederate veterans, as well as various texts written by these organizations explaining their methods and purpose. The white southern women of the immediate post-war era are an interesting example of how the historical narrative of a region can become intentionally biased through an organized effort, as well as how women of this time period utilized the often patriarchal structure of their culture in order to make an impact on the next generation. Through their involvement in supposedly benevolent activities, such as memorialization, education, and preservation of “true” history, these women were able to almost completely rewrite the history of the Civil War, and indoctrinate entire generations of southern children into this belief system, leading to the perpetuation of dangerous misinformation into the modern era.

 
 

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