POSTPONED - "Voices without Votes: Women and Politics in Antebellum New England" | Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
University of Pittsburgh

POSTPONED - "Voices without Votes: Women and Politics in Antebellum New England"

February 10, 2010 - 12:00pm
Ronald Zboray (Professor of Communication) & Mary Sarcino Zboray (Visiting Scholar in Communication)

Women's Studies

POSTPONED - “I take too much interest in Legislation for a lady,” Persis Sibley, a farmer’s daughter from Maine wrote in 1841.  “I sho’d like to spend all my time at the Capitol if it were consistent.”  Such politicized statements by women living in early nineteenth-century New England were not uncommon.

But since the publication of Barbara Welter’s “The Cult of True Womanhood” (1966) and Nancy Cott’s Bonds of Womanhood (1977) made “separate spheres” the dominant paradigm of early U.S. women’s history, studies on nineteenth-century ordinary women’s experience have highlighted its private, essentially domestic contexts.  Politics remained firmly within the public “sphere” of men.  This presentation, based upon research into the manuscript diaries and letters of over 400 unremarkable women living between 1828 and 1861 (and our forthcoming book with the University Press of New England, Voices Without Votes: Women and Politics in Antebellum New England, 2010), will demonstrate that despite “woman’s sphere” prescriptions advising them to stay out of public affairs, a number of them amply demonstrated political consciousness and proffered partisan opinions with little social reprobation for having overstepped their “proper” role.  Though barred from voting, they nevertheless thought and acted in a deeply political manner. 

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