The Women of Waterford, Virginia: Gender, Unionism, Quakerism and Identity in the American Civil War

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Virginia Tech


Over the course of the Civil War the small community of Waterford, Virginia maintained Unionist sentiments regardless of being a part of the Confederate States of America. These sentiments were rooted in loyalty to the United States, their ostracization from southern culture, and their Quaker faith. In particular, the women of this community became exceptionally vocal with their displeasure with the Confederacy. In the last year of the Civil War they made the deliberate choice to publicly assert their Unionist convictions with their newspaper The Waterford News. The experience of this community, particularly that of its female residents, was influenced by the variety of identities that they held.

The women of Waterford were Quakers, female, southern, unionist and editors/producers of a newspaper. The community of Waterford, Virginia was placed in the margins of Southern society because of the cultural differences rooted in their Quaker faith. The Civil War created a chaotic historical moment where those on the margins of society experienced it differently than those around them. By examining their identities as newspaper producers, as citizens of different groups, and within their interpersonal relationships the reality of how war is lived is brought to light. All of these factors reveal how war is lived, and how lives are manipulated to fit within times of chaos. Motivation matters.



Civil War, Women, Gender, Waterford, Virginia, identity, southern unionism, Quaker, Society of Friends, newspaper, journalism