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Women in Kentucky

Women in Kentucky

Copyright Date: 1979
Edition: 1
Pages: 146
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  • Book Info
    Women in Kentucky
    Book Description:

    In more than two hundred years of statehood, most Kentucky women have been invisible to history. Yet from the first settlement, women have been prominent contributors to Kentucky history and culture.Women in Kentuckytells the stories of the ordinary women of lonely frontier farms, the women both black and white whose lives were shaped by slavery, and the laboring women of the factories and shops in rising urban centers. Helen Deiss Irvin also profiles the exceptional Kentucky women whose lives became more visible: abolitionist Delia Webster, suffragists Laura Clay and Madeline McDowell Breckinridge, philanthropists Mary Breckinridge and Linda Neville, reformer Carry Nation, scholar and educator Sophonisba Breckinridge, and physician Louise Gilman Hutchins.Women in Kentuckycasts a new light on the active and full participation of women in Kentucky's long and storied history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5065-9
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-17)

    Although women settlers came to Kentucky to stay in 1775, they are usually ignored in histories, as if they were invisible or their lives of little interest. They may be depicted, if at all, as passive and fearful. By these timid qualities they are defined as harbingers of a more “refined civilization”—in contrast to that of the Indians who used Kentucky as a hunting ground. But to learn of a woman migrant on horseback fording a swift river, one child in her arms and one hanging on behind her, to find other women improvising a substitute for flax, defending...

    (pp. 18-30)

    Women had lived among the ancient, vanished peoples whose bones and possessions were turned up by plows when Kentucky became farmlands. And although by the time settlers arrived, Kentucky was not a permanent home for Indians, nevertheless Cherokee, Shawnee, Wyandot, Chickasaw and others, men and women, crossed the future state, hunting and traveling, and living there from time to time.

    Of the Indian women, accounts vary and are often inconsistent. Some find them praiseworthy. According to Arnow, unlike the wives of white settlers, Indian women were represented in their councils. When Richard Henderson traded goods for lands that the Cherokee...

    (pp. 31-47)

    In a remarkably short time—ten to twenty years—the Kentucky frontier vanished. Forts and settlements with their scattering of log cabins were gone, replaced by busy towns with handsome brick houses. Gone, too, were frontier simplicity and egalitarianism. At the upper levels of a newly stratified society, the role of women was changing. The competence and resourcefulness of the frontier woman were no longer highly valued; women were now to be useless and decorative, living evidence of family financial success.

    A wealthy and powerful class established itself in the new state. Their work done by slaves, they built large...

    (pp. 48-66)

    In the kentucky social hierarchy, most powerless were black women. Subject to all of the abuses of slavery, they were vulnerable to additional ones as women. It was widely known, for example, that the slave trader Lewis Robards of Lexington sold black women into prostitution—a practice in which no one intervened—and other traders operated breeding farms for southern markets. Moreover, the exploitation of black women by their owners was not unusual, as evidenced by numbers of nearly white slave children. In a world in which black women were degraded in many ways, theirs was a difficult struggle to...

    (pp. 67-88)

    Unnoticed by most Kentuckians, by the turn of the century 44,518 “females over ten years of age” were employed by Kentucky industries. Most of these women worked in Louisville, the most industrialized city in the largely agricultural state. Always paid less than men in the same occupations, women in Louisville factories earned an average of sixty-seven cents a day in 1887 and eighty-seven cents a day in 1903. In the sewing trades, wages were even lower.

    A powerless class, women workers were not only paid poorly but also exploited in other ways. Since the 1880s, men’s unions had pushed for...

    (pp. 89-128)

    In the flower-decked drawing room at “Ashland,” on the day after Kentucky ratified the women’s suffrage amendment, a receiving line greeted a large crowd of well groomed guests fortunate enough to receive a coveted invitation. The guest of honor at the venerable home of Henry Clay was none other than Emmeline Pankhurst, English militant—occasionally violent—suffrage leader, who had been beaten, stoned, egged by mobs, many times imprisoned and forcibly fed in English jails. In Mrs. Pankhurst’s long campaign of civil disobedience, she herself had smashed windows and thrown rocks, and with her encouragement her followers had burned buildings...

  11. Principal Sources
    (pp. 129-134)