The title of this book is especially poignant for me not only be-
cause I have spent most of my academic career as a historian of
southern women, but because I have also been a half sister. I
think the family metaphor is apt for dealing with a subject as
internecine and incestuous as historical fields. I am perhaps more
attuned to this imagery having started out as a student ofslavery-
a scholarly battlefield strewn with fratricidal shoot-outs and
The metaphor in my title will not become some belabored the-
matic device-identifying a "Big Daddy" or "wicked stepmother"
is not the purpose ofthis volume. Rather, I examine the historical
roots of southern women's history before outlining some of the
significant scholarship by pioneering historians which constitutes
the now flourishing field ofsouthern women's history.
Serious consideration of southern women has been handi-
capped by the sexism ofAmerican history in general and southern
history in particular, combined with the regional chauvinism of
women's history. These parochial elements have been retarding.
Many assumed that women's historical experience would be the
exclusive domain offemale historians and those working in wom-
en's history. Most scholars in women's history rarely mention,
much less examine southern women, perhaps fearful that "half
might unravel the neatly woven canvas of their re-created