Southern Women Black And White In The Old South Summary

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In the monograph, Southern Women: Black and White in the Old South, Sally G. McMillen examines diaries, letters, and other personal accounts to help eliminate myths that currently explain the lifestyles of black and white southern women from 1800 to the end of the Civil War in 1865. She claims that “Myths for too long have prevented an accurate assessment of southern women’s contributions, sacrifices, hardships, joys, and most important, their individuality” (McMillen 1). The history of the women of the Old South are often overlooked and inaccurately examined, but are becoming easier to depict as historians discover records from the past. Although some may agree with the myths, southern women were nothing less than a “hardy mold” because of …show more content…
Many worked as slaves and endured physical discomforts. Even though men are known as the hardworking ones, “Economic historians have estimated that slave women typically picked 80 percent as much cotton as a man each day” (McMillan 121). Not only did women work in the fields, but they typically had to be flexible and willing to work in their master’s home as well. As a result, they worked long days, usually lasting twelve to fourteen hours, in hazardous weather conditions, with little to no breaks. As slaves, they were treated like animals. Even when facing illness, women were expected to complete the tasks they were given. Slavery was an equally devastating experience for both males and females. However, most southern women did not receive credit or recognition of their productivity. Because they didn’t get any particular wages for their work, people misconceive the effects women had as workers and slaves. Rather than slacking off and avoiding their physical discomforts, women embraced them in order to provide for their families, which gave them a sense of power and capability. While current myths describe women of the Old South to be weak, they were strong and