Cover image for A family of women : the Carolina Petigrus in peace and war
A family of women : the Carolina Petigrus in peace and war
Pease, Jane H.
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Publication Information:
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xv, 328 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
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HQ1438.S6 P43 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The often-stereotyped belles and matrons of the nineteenth-century South emerge as diverse personalities in this compelling account of three generations of women from a South Carolina family whose fate rose and fell with the fortunes of the state. Through vivid, interwoven life stories, the book offers a unique perspective on how these women conducted their lives, shared personal triumphs and defeats, endured the deprivations and despair of civil war, and experienced a social revolution.

A Family of Women focuses on the female descendants of Louise Gibert Pettigrew (later changed to Petigru), who rose from upcountry obscurity to privileged prominence in Charleston and on low country plantations, where they variously flourished as belles, managed large households, shocked society with their unconventionality, educated their children, endured troubled marriages, and maintained close family ties. Using the letters, diaries, novels, and memoirs of the Petigru women and the material culture surrounding them, the authors weave a complex story of women well worth knowing.

Author Notes

Jane H. Pease and William H. Pease are both professors emeriti of history at the University of Maine and associates in history at the College of Charleston. Their three most recent books explore various aspects of Southern history.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This family biography draws on the letters and diaries of three generations of Petigru women to trace their changing fortunes throughout much of the 19th century. While the Civil War profoundly influenced their lives, it is clear that the antebellum period was not always idyllic. Precarious finances, early marriage, frequent childbearing, and various social constraints all had an impact. Several of these women, for example, were forced to assume male management roles or become economically self-sufficient. Historians Jane and William Pease have written several books on the Charleston area, among them a biography of the namesake of this family, James Louis Petigru, Southern Conservative, Southern Dissenter. Recommended for academic and large public libraries as well as women's studies collections.√ĄPatricia A. Beaber, Coll. of New Jersey Lib., Ewing (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

To counter romanticized images of the Old South's elite women, historians have mined countless manuscript collections but come to often conflicting conclusions. In this work Pease and Pease (emerti, Univ. of Maine) demonstrate the complexity of fitting real people into easy generalizations by examining three generations of women in the well-documented Petigru family of South Carolina. Born between 1789 and 1813, the children of mid-sized farmers William and Louise Gilbert Pettigru rode the wave of southern economic expansion to planter status, excellent educations, and monetarily favorable marriages, but at the cost of pyramiding debt and personal unhappiness. The Civil War exposed the fragility of family gains. The Peases bring a mature understanding of human relationships as well as experience in southern sources to illuminate life courses (e.g., marriage, childbirth, child rearing, plantation roles) taken by these women linked by blood and marriage. Genealogical charts aid the reader; the index lacks sufficient topical detail. Highly recommended for libraries collecting in southern history, the family, and women's history. General readers; upper-division undergraduates and above. P. F. Field; Ohio University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Editorial Notep. xiii
Prologuep. 1
Part 1 The Rise of the Petigrus
1 Establishing the Petigru Connectionp. 9
2 Begetting Offspringp. 23
3 Managing Complex Householdsp. 31
4 Educating the Youngp. 38
5 Marrying for Moneyp. 48
6 Reigning as Bellesp. 58
7 Surviving Miserable Marriagesp. 71
8 Governing at Homep. 87
9 Marrying for Lovep. 95
10 Reflecting Power and Wealthp. 110
11 Dealing with Public Issuesp. 124
Part 2 The War Years
12 The War Comesp. 139
13 The Early War Years on the Home Frontp. 148
14 The Repercussions from the Battlefieldp. 159
15 The Roof Tree Fallsp. 169
16 Life Goes Onp. 180
17 The War Drags to a Closep. 192
Part 3 The Long Years After
18 The Despair of Defeatp. 207
19 The Return to the Plantationp. 220
20 The Return to the Cityp. 235
21 The Luck of the Allstonsp. 246
22 The Pain and Joy of Autonomyp. 264
Epiloguep. 275
Appendix Genealogical Chartsp. 285
Notesp. 297
Bibliographical Essayp. 319
Indexp. 323