Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

Second Department


First Advisor

Bradley Hays




reconstruction, America, U.S., south, women, Civil War


The purpose of my research is to reevaluate and extend the commonly understood time frame of Reconstruction by scholars to include Southern women’s ideological Reconstruction as well as provide a particular perspective on women during this era, which is underdeveloped in literature. Elite, white women during the Civil War began a journey towards independence and involvement in the public sphere. This evolution occurred approximately fifteen years behind similar actions taken by Northern women; this paper attempts to explain this lag. Additionally, my research asserts that Southern women were forced in a sense to become independent during the Civil War while their men were fighting, once Reconstruction began, rather than publically asserting this independence instead retired into the private domestic sphere cultivating a different degree of independence until Northern subjugation was removed and women felt secure enough in their feminine role in society to more towards reform involvement. I have primarily used diaries written by women of this demographic during the Civil War and years following to show a specific ideological progression using their own words as evidence to support this thesis as well as various archives from women’s groups.