Their Histories, Their Lives
Publication Date: February 1, 2010
Volume 1 of Mississippi Women enriched our understanding of women’s roles in the state’s history through profiles of notable, though often neglected, individuals. Volume 2 explores the historical forces that have shaped women’s lives in Mississippi. Covering an expanse of time from early European settlement through the course of the twentieth century, the essays in the second volume acknowledge the state’s diverse cultural and physical landscapes as they discuss how issues of race, gender, and class affected women’s lives in various private and public spheres.
Essays on the state’s early history focus on such topics as Choctaw and Chickasaw women’s influence on Native American society and tribal councils, daily life for free black women in slaveholding Natchez, and the efforts of white Protestant women to establish churches on the frontier. Several essays cast new light on legal concerns, including two on the pivotal Married Women’s Property Act of 1839, while other essays examine the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on women’s lives.
The boundaries of race and gender in Jim Crow Mississippi are explored through an essay on the women of the mixed-race Knight family, notably the educator, nurse, and missionary Anna Knight. Women’s experiences with rural electrification, consumerism, civil rights activism, social and service clubs, and feminism are among the other twentieth-century topics addressed in the essays. Volume 2 concludes with an essay on storytelling and remembrance that centers on the family of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist (and Mississippi native) William Raspberry.
Elizabeth Anne Payne is a professor of history at the University of Mississippi. Martha H. Swain is Cornaro Professor of History Emerita at Texas Woman’s University. Marjorie Julian Spruill is a professor of history at the University of South Carolina. Brenda M. Eagles, coauthor of The Blues: A Bibliographical Guide, was for many years bibliographical editor of the Journal of Mississippi History.
"Mississippi Women: Their Histories, Their Lives—Volume 2 includes vibrant chapters from a number of prominent scholars in the field of southern history as well as from those who are just bringing their work to light. With this second book, a smart complement to the first volume, the authors analyze the forces of history in the lives of Mississippi women while demonstrating women's agency in a sophisticated and analytical manner. From Choctaw and Chickasaw tribal history to the International Women's Year Conferences of 1977, Mississippi offers a fascinating window into the world of southern women."—Elizabeth Hayes Turner, author of Women and Gender in the New South, 1865–1945
"The essays in this volume confound our assumptions about Mississippi women and broaden our understanding of southern womanhood in general. The authors capture the breadth and diversity of women’s experiences in the state from eighteenth-century Chickasaw and Choctaw women to nineteenth- and twentieth-century black and white women—all restricted by or challenging social, economic, and political constraints. This is an outstanding study of women’s history as southern history."—Beverly Greene Bond, editor of Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times
"I can't wait to assign the second volume of Mississippi Women to my classes. This book provides historical scholarship that can at once illuminate stories and novels by writers like Eudora Welty and Toni Morrison and offer new insight into literary texts by their male counterparts. The book's essays paint a portrait of Mississippi women—Native American, black, and white—which is relevant far beyond state lines or the boundaries of academic disciplines."—Suzanne Marrs, author of Eudora Welty: A Biography
"This volume is for all of us. Beautiful and powerful writing makes these essays accessible to those of us outside the scholarly world of historians and the academy. As a former civil rights lawyer, law professor, and Women’s Rights Program Officer at Ford responsible for its grant-making globally and in the United States, I cannot say enough about how important this volume is."—Barbara Y. Phillips, Former Ford Foundation Program Officer for Women’s Rights and Gender Equity
"The well-written and accessible essays in this volume add depth and rich texture to our understanding of the lives of women in Mississippi."--Journal of Southern History