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.
This lecture addresses the experiences of black women, including slaves, as well as white women from different class backgrounds. African American women did their best to preserve their dignity and protect their families in a hostile environment, while social class among white women profoundly shaped their experiences; yeomen farmers' wives did a lot of hard physical labor, while plantation mistresses, who did not, were supposed to embody their family's elite status. All this made for tense, complicated relations among women who shared the gender subordination of the era but rarely identified with each other.