Joan E. Cashin is a professor of history at Ohio State University, specializing in social, economic, and cultural history from the Revolution through the Civil War. She is the author of A Family Venture: Men and Women on the Southern Frontier (1991); First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War (2006), winner of the Fletcher Pratt Award from the Civil War Roundtable of New York; and War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War (2018), winner of the Best Book Award from the Ohio Academy of History. She is also the editor of War Matters: Material Culture in the Civil War Era (2018); The War Was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War (2002); Our Common Affairs: Texts from Women in the Old South (1996); and Clotel, or the President's Daughter (1996), a novel by Williams Wells Brown.
The war touched the lives of almost all American women, black, white, slave, free, Northern, Southern, and Western. They had to grapple with changes in the economy, the political system, and gender roles. The conflict affected them in different ways, of course. Some women, such as African Americans in the South, saw their lives completely transformed when freedom came, while white women in the North seized new opportunities to work outside the home and participate in reform. The theme in this lecture is the wide range of experience.