Term of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of History

Committee Chair

Michelle Haberland

Committee Member 1

Alan Downs

Committee Member 2

Felicity Turner


This thesis traces the development of Black and white Southern women’s pursuit of political power between the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Emancipation and the downfall of the antebellum planter aristocracy upset traditional Southern gender norms and opened new doors for women of both races in the political upheaval of Reconstruction. Though both Black and white women participated in the women’s club movement and joined women’s advocacy and charity groups following the Civil War, their work was distinctive both from each other and from other regional Progressive movements. The context of the South, Emancipation, the reestablishment of white Democratic rule in state governments, and burgeoning segregation meant that female activists were constantly renegotiating racial boundaries. By examining the experiences of Black and white female advocacy leaders in Virginia, I analyze how Black and white women came to be involved in political movements in the southern states, as well as how their rhetoric and how their personal backgrounds of race, class, and education influenced their political goals and interactions with each other.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material