Race, Civil War Memory, and Sisterhood in the Woman's Relief Corps

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Virginia Tech

This paper explores the intersections of race and the public remembrances of the American Civil War in the Woman's Relief Corps (WRC), auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). It specifically examines the role of slavery, emancipation, and sectional reconciliation in the WRC's discourse about the meaning of the conflict, and how Jim Crow-era racial ideology influenced the scope and effectiveness of African American members within the organization. The extent to which the model of black and white comradeship in the GAR affected the WRC's racial and commemorative policies and objectives will also be considered. Finally, the paper draws lessons from the WRC's experience grappling with issues of race, memory, reconciliation, and the role of veterans and women in memorialization with our own experience in observing the Civil War's sesquicentennial.

Race, Woman's Relief Corps, Grand Army of the Republic, Civil War memory, Union, Emancipation, Reconciliation, ViS, Veterans in Society, Race and/or Reconciliation, the Third Conference on Veterans in Society