Busy Hands: Images of the Family in the Northern Civil War by Patricia Richard

By Patricia Richard

Concentrating on middle-class women's contributions to the northern Civil conflict attempt, Patricia Richard indicates how girls applied their strength as ethical brokers to form the best way males survived the ravages of conflict. Busy fingers investigates the ways that white and African American ladies used photos of kinfolk and household lifestyles of their aid efforts to counter the consequences of prostitution, playing, profanity, and ingesting, threatening men's postwar civilian health. Drawing on letters, diaries, and memoirs of Civil battle nurses, sanitary staff, squaddies, and the warriors' relief societies, Richard develops a brand new viewpoint on family impact at the conflict, as ladies sought to avoid wasting squaddies from the risks of the army global.

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Additional info for Busy Hands: Images of the Family in the Northern Civil War Effort (The North's Civil War, Issue 26)

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The history of the Victorian family is an ever-expanding field. Some of the most prominent works are: Mintz, Prison of Expectations; Mintz and Kellogg, Domestic Revolutions; Stevenson, The Victorian Homefront; and Ryan, Cradle of the Middle Class. Family studies have grown to include the father’s role. Recent studies show that instead of becoming the mother’s domain in the nineteenth century, the family was a “meeting ground” of the sexes. See Robert L. Griswold, Fatherhood in America: A History (New York: Basic, 1993); Rotundo, American Manhood; and Frank, Life with Father.

Parents expected their children either to enter an apprenticeship, to gain employment, or to scavenge for materials to help in the family’s survival. Economic hardships also forced working-class families to depend on kin and neighbors. Few networks of support beyond churches and benevolence groups existed in antebellum America, so help from friends and family could mean the difference between surviving an economic panic or being plunged even further into poverty. Socializing with friends and neighbors was also a hallmark of the working classes.

Africans inhabited all the colonies, and every colony had slavery. In states like Pennsylvania and New York, where slavery was abolished last in the Northern states, slavery remained a fairly recent memory. 24 BUSY HANDS And as border states, Pennsylvania and Ohio had growing numbers of former slaves who escaped from the South. African American families had characteristics in common with middle-class white families, and only because of slavery and racism did they have to adapt and accommodate. The two-parent, male-headed, nuclear family was the dominant household among both slave and free populations.

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