Her Act and Deed

Her Act and Deed : Women's Lives in a Rural Southern County

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Deeds, wills, divorce decrees, and other evidence of the public lives of nineteenth-century women belie the long-held beliefs of their public invisibility. Angela Boswell's "Her Act and Deed: Women's Lives in a Rural Southern County, 1837-1873" follows the threads of Southern women's lives as they weave through the public records of one Texas county during the middle of the nineteenth century. Her unique approach to exploring women's roles in a South that spanned the frontier, antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction eras illuminates the truths of the feminine world of those periods, and her analysis of this set of complete public records for those years challenges the theory of men's and women's separate spheres of influence, as advanced by many scholars. The world Boswell reconstructs allows readers a more egalitarian, multicultural look at life: working class and poor women, both black and white, join their more affluent sisters in the pages of the Colorado County, Texas, courthouse records. Those same records reveal that the men of that world--most of them planters or farmers, the majority of them owning at least a few slaves--are a force for women to reckon with, both in public and at home. The almost constant presence of men in the home and their need to uphold the dominant, slave-holding hierarchy produced a patriarchy more pervasive than that experienced by women in the urban north. Eminently readable and accessible to scholars and general readers alike, "Her Act and Deed" represents a welcome addition to the classroom, to the scholar's library, and to Texas history collections.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 22mm | 480.81g
  • Texas A & M University Press
  • College Station, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 9 tables, bibliography, index
  • 1585441287
  • 9781585441280

Review quote

"Angela Boswell has produced an important and original piece of work that helps fill the enormous gap that currently exists in Southern women's history. Painstakingly comparing society's images of women against the reality of farm women's lives in the nineteenth-century Texas, she describes a hardscrabble world in which most women adhered to domestic feminine ideals that were virtually impossible to achieve. Taking us from Texas's antebellum frontier state through its experience of Civil War and Reconstruction, she presents us with a changing world in which white and black women struggled form their separate stations to find security in a most insecure world."--Victoria E. Bynum, Southwest Texas State Universityshow more

About Angela Boswell

Angela Boswell is associate professor of history at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. She received her doctorate from Rice University and has written extensively on the history of Southern women.show more

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