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Daughters of the Union: Northern Women Fight the Civil War [Hardcover]

Nina Silber
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 15, 2005 0674016777 978-0674016774 First Edition

Daughters of the Union casts a spotlight on some of the most overlooked and least understood participants in the American Civil War: the women of the North. Unlike their Confederate counterparts, who were often caught in the midst of the conflict, most Northern women remained far from the dangers of battle. Nonetheless, they enlisted in the Union cause on their home ground, and the experience transformed their lives.

Nina Silber traces the emergence of a new sense of self and citizenship among the women left behind by Union soldiers. She offers a complex account, bolstered by women's own words from diaries and letters, of the changes in activity and attitude wrought by the war. Women became wage-earners, participants in partisan politics, and active contributors to the war effort. But even as their political and civic identities expanded, they were expected to subordinate themselves to male-dominated government and military bureaucracies.

Silber's arresting tale fills an important gap in women's history. She shows the women of the North--many for the first time--discovering their patriotism as well as their ability to confront new economic and political challenges, even as they encountered the obstacles of wartime rule. The Civil War required many women to act with greater independence in running their households and in expressing their political views. It brought women more firmly into the civic sphere and ultimately gave them new public roles, which would prove crucial starting points for the late-nineteenth-century feminist struggle for social and political equality.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton and Anna Dickinson have cameo roles, Civil War historian Silber reaches far deeper than such star turns to address "the diminishing place of Union women in American memory," the corollary that their commitment was "lackluster" and the domestic fallout of their involvement—"the expansion of the nation-state into the lives of ordinary Americans citizens." Relying heavily on letters and diaries, Silber's scholarly account is solidly informative for the serious historian and quite accessible for general history buffs and students. As primary breadwinners go off to war, women serve as fund-raisers, post mistresses, suppliers, nurses, government workers and teachers. That's a familiar enough story, but with a greater public role, women find "their personal, intimate relationships subjected to intense... scrutiny, not only from neighbors and kin but also from state and federal officials." Those who work as nurses are "required to be plain looking women." The result, Silber argues, was a change in the way marriage's regulatory function worked in society in ways that continue to reverberate through homes and jobs. In this provocative, challenging work, Silber writes ordinary women onto the page and reshapes the boundaries of Civil War history. Her attention to the presence of Northern black women is particularly noteworthy. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Although Civil War literature abounds, relatively little has been written about the roles many Northern women played in the conflict. With the exception of such legendary figures as Clara Barton and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and unlike their Southern counterparts, these otherwise ordinary women have not been portrayed as active participants in the war effort. Silber seeks to rectify this oversight by providing a fascinating accounting of the economic, social, and political challenges met and overcome by patriotic Union women in both the domestic and the civic spheres. Perhaps most significantly, the author also traces the tentative roots of the female political activism that manifested itself in the suffrage and temperance movements of the late nineteenth century to the new identities forged by Yankee women during the war years. This worthy contribution to the scholarship and popular culture of the Civil War will also appeal to women's historians. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition edition (June 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674016777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674016774
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #517,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars As good as history books can be September 26, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good history written in easy-to-read style. Women have been neglected in Civil War histories so this was a real winner. I've recommended it to others in this year of Civil War remembrance
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5.0 out of 5 stars I have learned so much February 2, 2013
I had checked this book out of at my library and was enjoying it so much I added it to my Amazon Wishlist. I received it for Christmas and have thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The amount of new information I am learning about this time period and the northern women's role has been fascinating. It reads quickly and fun to read though reading a lot of historical information.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars daughters of the Union December 24, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Book was sent out immediately, arrived within a few days, and was of excellent quality.
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