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Women and the American Civil War (December 2015): Scholarly Journals

by Elizabeth A. Novara

Scholarly Journals

There are numerous journals that publish articles related to women’s Civil War history, including some of the foremost journals in history and women’s studies areas.  There are a few journals worth mentioning specifically that focus on either women’s history or Civil War history.  The Journal of Women’s History publishes global scholarship on women’s historical topics and constructions of gender.  Civil War History is the best-known journal publishing on Civil War–era topics, including women.  Finally, the Journal of the Civil War Era is a fairly new endeavor by the Society of Civil War Historians that focuses on cutting-edge historical scholarship.


The books and other resources mentioned in this essay clearly illustrate the merging of women’s history, gender studies, and military history.  Many of the works discussed suggest that women had some measure of political power during the war.  However, most historians now agree that far from being a watershed moment for women, the war did not dramatically change women’s roles after the war, although it did displace gender roles and create fascinating potential for women.  There is also a notable shift to looking beyond the traditional dichotomies, especially those of home front and battlefront, to a less defined and perhaps less confined interpretation of geographic space, as well as spaces of power.  As the field of women’s Civil War history continues to expand, there remain many unexplored territories.  As Stephanie McCurry proposes, the field may need to move more toward international and interdisciplinary perspectives of women’s experiences with war and citizenship.  Other directions include more distinct studies relating to class and race, especially with a focus on black women.  In addition, regional and local studies should continue to highlight the incongruent nature of women’s war experiences throughout the North, South, and western United States.  Most conspicuously, there remains little scholarship on women’s experiences within the states of the Border South.  Women in these border states often considered themselves Southerners and may have sent family members into war for the Confederacy or the Union, but are often not considered in studies of either the South or the North.  Future studies in these areas will be particularly enlightening for women’s Civil War history.