African American Women's Lives During the Civil War: An Annotated
Bibliography by Juliet K. Habjan, Graduate Assistant, College
of Library and Information Services, University of Maryland.
The sources searched for this bibliography, while limited, should
reflect the creator's desire to locate materials, both primary and
secondary, from a variety of publications, for this is a subject that
needs to be approached from more than one avenue. The following terms
were used in various Boolean combinations and truncations for such
searches: Afro-American, African-American, African American, Black, Colored, Nurses,
Soldiers, Troops, and Women.
The terms noted above were searched in the following sources: America:
History and Life, Dissertation Abstracts, National Union Catalog
Mansuscript Collections (1975-present), Research Libraries Information
Network(RLIN), Victor: UMCP's OPAC, and Women's Studies Index (1989-present).
- Annapolis Gazette(also called Maryland Gazette). Primary source; Noted in a
lecture by Dr.
Papenfuse, Marlyand State Archivist.
- Published in Annapolis, Maryland, 1854-74. This newspaper would
be especially useful for research on the periods of recruitment and
then post-war settlement.
- Anglo-African Magazine(also called Weekly Anglo-African). Published in New
City, New York, 1859-65. Primary source; Located in Ham's The
- This publication addressed issues facing
African-Americans during the Civil War. Applicable information might be
found in persuasive essays (eg. Green's piece urging African-Ameicans to join
the military), letters to the editor, news stories, and even advertisements.
- Baltimore Gazette. Published in Baltimore, Maryland, 1862-82. Primary source;
Located in Documents for the Classroom, Maryland State
- Issues of this
newspaper would probably be helpful in research regarding the recruitement
and enlistment of United States Colored Troops, African-American
communities/families' involvement before, during, and after the Civil War.
- Barnes, Francis G.(correspondence of). Primary source; Located in RLIN.
- As Second Lieutenant of the 80th Regiment,
United States Colored Infantry, Barnes wrote to his wife, sharing his various
observations and experiences concerning African-Americans in the Civil War.
The 69 letters and other documents are held at the Manuscripts and Special
Collections, New York State Library, Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York.
- Berlin, Ira, ed. Freedom: A Documentary of Emancipation, 1861-7: Series II, The
Black Military Experience. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
Secondary source with many
primary documents; Located in VICTOR.
text is a tremendous resource that documents in detail black military camp
life during the Civil War with primary resources found in the National
Archives. Letters, diaries, and government memoranda are among the wide
range of materials included. Annotations of sources included are provided on
the same page where quotes appear. An extensive index provides access to both
personal names and subjects. Of particular interest is the section "Off Duty"
which includes four chapters on the African-American soldier's camp life,
education, health, and relationships while serving- all places where
researchers are likely to find reference to women.
- Black Studies: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications.
Washington, D.C.: United States Government, 1984. Compendium that leads to
primary sources; Located in VICTOR.
- This work is a compendium
that lists primary sources that would be of use to the researcher. As a
whole, it is especially helpful because it pulls together papers and records
from all the different federal agencies, many of which are surprisingly
revealing sources, to cover this topic. Because it is organized by agency,
one must take a little time to read the contents lists and narrative
annotations; this is minimal work, however, in contrast to searching the
voluminous records themselves. Widow's pension files and the Bureau of
Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands are among the most useful primary
sources that may be accessed through this guide for the given topic.
- Bleser, Carol, ed. In Joy and in Sorrow: Women, Family, and Marriage in the
Victorian South, 1830-1900. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Secondary source; Located in VICTOR.
work is a collection of fourteen articles written by various scholars. As a
whole, the articles consider male/female relationships and family life, both
White and African-American during the stated time period. At least five of
the articles specifically address African-American relationships during and
after the Civil War. All articles have footnotes and citations which appear
together at the end of the work as a whole. This is probably one of the least
"meaty" works included in this bibliography with respect to the given topic;
it is included, though, to provide a frame for considering how relationships
figured during the Civil War, what was going on and how did it affect women's
- Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands(records of), 1865-72.
Primary source; Located in Black Studies: A Select
Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications.
records include forty-eight volumes of reports, correspondence, endorsements,
circulars, and special orders. All of the above note the affairs of the
Bureau which was established to work with issues surrounding the Civil War
and how it affected freedmen/women, their lands, and homes. The bureau took
on a role similar to present day social service agencies; for example, it was
not uncommon for the bureau to help African-American soldiers and their
widows collect pension and bounty. Records from such involvement are likely
to provide a plethora of information about both the war and the male/female
relationships. Records are held at the National Archives, Record Group 105,
1865-72, M742, M752.
- Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, Assistant Commissioner for
State of Mississippi(records of), 1865-69. Primary source; Located in Black
Studies: A Select Catalog of National
Archives Microfilm Publications.
- These records include forty-one
volumes of letters sent and received, reports, endorsements, registers of
indentures, and contracts of freedmen, all of which would be helpful to
research on this topic. It is important to note that other states' bureau
records are available and would also be helpful. This particular state was
cited because its records would provide documents that might support/refute
some of what Frankel considers in her article(cited below) on Mississippi
African-American women. Once the researcher is familiar with where battles
were fought, troops stationed, etc. (to which yet another source noted below
provides aid), then state-specific records could be consulted. For example,
one should look at the South Carolina bureau records (M869) because the
United States Colored Troops camped and fought in the state for extended
periods. Materials held in the National Archives, Record Group 105, M826.
- Christian Recorder. Published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1852-1931. Primary
resource; Located in VICTOR.
publication received support from the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It
was a newspaper geared towards African-Americans that supported "news and
discussion not propoganda." Because of the churches' strong political and
social orientation, this publication is likely to serve as a good resource
for dialogue on how African-American participation in the Civil War was
perceived in various communities and how it affected relationships in both
families and the community-at-large.
- Douglass, Frederick.(papers of). Primary source; Located
in The African-American Mosaic.
- Among the plethora of applicable items in these
papers are those that follow the United States Colored Troops from
recruitment to performance to emancipation. Materials held in the Manuscripts
Division, Library of Congress, microfilm 1841-1967.
- 51st United States Colored Infantry.(historic records of). Primary source; Located
- Part of the papers of
White Union Chaplain George North Carruthers, these historic records detail
the soldiers' military and personal lives while in camp. For example, data on
181 African-American marriages perfomed by Carruthers is included. These
papers, which document from 1863-1866, are held in the Manuscripts Division,
Library of Congress, papers 1864-69.
- Fleetwood, Christian Abraham.(diaries of). Primary
source; Located in The African-American Mosaic.
- A Sergeant Major in the 4th United
States Colored Infantry, Fleetwood kept diaries as his troops moved South.
These diaries are likely to address camp life in detail which consequently
might mean some mention of the women present. The diaries are held in the
Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress, microfilm 1797-1945.
- Fox, Charles Barnard, Col.(diary of). Cambridge: Press of J. Wilson and Son,1868.
Located in VICTOR.
This diary records the service of the 55th Regiment of Massachusetts, United
States Colored Infantry. As Fox was an officer of the 55th Regiment, his
diary provides the perspective of the man-in-charge, the man who probably had
to grapple with issues surrounding the presence of women in the camps. For
this reason, Fox's diary is potentially useful to research.
- Frankel, Noralee. "The Southern Side of 'Glory': Mississippi African-American
Women During the Civil War," Minerva: Quarterly Report on Women and the
Military. v. 7, no. 3, Fall 1990, pp. 28-36. Secondary source; Located in
Women's Studies Index.
- This article closely considers
the role of African-American women as both lovers and workers during the
Civil War. Primary and secondary sources are both employed by the author,
with an emphasis on Widow's Pension Files. In a few pages, it tells more
about African-American women's lives during and immediately following the
Civil War than some texts on African-American involvement in the war cover in
a whole book. An important work for this topic.
- Free Military School for Command of Colored Regiments.(register and scrapbook
of). Primary source; Located in RLIN.
- Papers record both admissions to the school which was run by the
Philadelphia Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments and a
scrapbook of clippings, telegrams, and letters related to the school and its
regiments. The records are held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania,
- Greene, Thomas Sumner.(papers of). Primary source; Located in
NUCMUC, accession # 77-322.
- Papers in this collection include the letters,
military orders, and other personal documents of this African-American Civil
War Soldier. Because of the perspective and personal nature, these papers
are probably very useful to research. They are held in the Henry E.
Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
- Griffin, Farah Jasmine. "Frances Ellen Watkins Harper in the Reconstruction
South," Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women. Supplement, 1988, pp. 45-7.
Secondary source; Located in Women's Studies Index.
This work provides a good introduction to Harper who was an African-American
abolitionist lecturer. Because her main concern was the status of
African-American women, it is probable that further research on this woman,
perhaps starting with the secondary sources cited, would prove fruitful for
learning more about the roles of African-American women during the Civil War.
- Ham, Debra Newman. The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress
Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture. Washington, D.C.: Library
of Congress, 1994. Compendium listing primary and secondary sources;
Noted in lecture given by Debra Ham in June 1994.
- This compendium is broken down by subjects which are often
chronologically based. It provides a plethora of citations to primary and
secondary sources and consequently serves as an excellent starting tool for
research on this topic.
- Hargrove, Hondon B. Black Union Soldiers in the Civil War. Jefferson: McFarland,
1988. Primary and
secondary source; Located in VICTOR.
- This work provides essential political and military background to the
topic at hand. In the appendix that follows the main text, specific United
States Colored Troops regiments' enlistment and battles are noted by location
and date. Such information provides an important link to primary sources in
particular towns that are likely to more illuminate the women's role. The
text itself considers camp issues including education, health, and pay in
signifcant depth. The chapter notes and an extensive bibliography also
include annotated citations to promising regiment histories and primary
sources, such as official regiment records and correspondence.
- Harper's Weekly. Published in New York City, New York, applicable years:
1861-65. Primary source; Located in The
This publication, which was said to "favor the cause of the Negro," is
especially useful because of its illustrations. During the years cited above,
Harper's included elaborate war scenes, some of which could have reflected
the presence of women in the camps.
- Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. Army Life in a Black Regiment. Williamstown:
House Publishers, 1971. Primary source; Located in VICTOR.
- This work provides an enlightening first hand account
of one White officer. The author of the account was Colonel to the 1st South
Carolina Colored Volunteers. The published work includes both diary entries
and letters. An appendix includes other original records, such as a regiment
roster. All of the text is indexed.
- Holt, Theron P.(papers of). Primary source; Located in RLIN.
- As a Lieutenant in the 8th Regiment, Louisiana
Colored Infantry, Holt's papers include military records from the applicable
time period and correspondence. The materials, which are actually duplicates
of the originals, are held at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin,
Archives Division, Madison, Wisconsin.
- Jones, Samuel B.(papers of). Primary source; Located in RLIN.
- Jones was Commander of a company in the 78th
Regiment, Louisiana Colored Troops. His papers include correspondence, muster
rolls, and pension applications. While each of these kinds of materials are
potentially useful to research on African-American women, the correspondence
and the pension applications are probably most likely to directly involve
women, either as subjects of letters or applicants for pension benefits. The
papers are held in the historic New Orleans Collection, New Orleans,
Louisiana. MSS 288.
- Kinsley, Edward W.(papers of). Primary source; Located in The African-American
- Captain of the 54th Regiment, United States
Colored Troops Volunteers. Because Kinsley's papers address issues of
"pay...morale..and casualties" in particular, the likelihood that women's
presence and/or effect on these issues is strong, for as companions, lovers,
and nurses, they certainly played a role in how these issues panned out.
Kinsley's papers are held in the Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress,
- Langston, John Mercer(papers of). Primary source; Located in The
- Materials are included that cover the United
States Colored Troops in recruitment and camp life settings. Because of his
multi-faceted involvement, Langston's papers are probably extremely useful in
revealing information surrounding the soldiers' departure from
"home"(whatever that may have been) and daily military life. For example,
requests at recruitment that a wife might accompany a soldier might be
documented either by refusal or payroll records for her inclusion as a
servant, teacher or laundress. Papers are held in the Manuscripts Division,
Library of Congress, microfilm 1853-98.
- The Liberator. Published in Boston, Massachusetts, 1831-65. Primary source;
Located in The African-American Mosaic.
- This title was the
"personal weekly" of William Lloyd Garrison. As an anti-slavery
African-American paper, it is very likely that essays and letters to the
editor will reveal more about the various ways African-Americans contributed
to the Civil War. Because at least one of the United States Colored Troops'
regiments was recruited in Massachusetts, it is probable that much dialogue
occurred in this publication regarding such recruitment and participation.
- Livermore, Mary A. My Story of the War: A Woman's Narrative of Four Years
Personal Experience as a Nurse. Hartford: A.D. Worthington Co., 1890. Primary
source; Located in VICTOR.
work presents the perspective of a White woman, tracing her involvement with
the Union Army, in the hospitals, camps, and at the front. Within her
"collection of experiences and reminiscences," one would think that there
would lie some discussion about African-American peers, even if the two races
were kept separate whenever possible. Even on the slight chance that no
mention occurs in her narrative, Livermore's piece would provide a useful
contrast and/or comparison to Taylor's, which is cited later in this text.
Unfortunately, while Livermore's work is illustrated, it is neither annotated
- Loewenberg, Bert James and Bogin, Ruth, eds. Black Women in Nineteenth
American Life: Their Words, Their Thoughts, Their Feelings. University Park:
Pennsylvania State University Press, 1976. Secondary source that includes many
full text primary
documents; Located in VICTOR.
- This work importantly is focused
on the perspective of nineteenth century African-American women. This
group's diverse background/history is painted through personal narratives,
including diaries and correspondence. While most of the forty-plus women
included in the text were not actually in the military camps themselves,
their lives clearly were affected by kins' involvement in the war and/or the
passing through of the troops in their towns. The work includes an excellent
bibliography which cites both primary and secondary sources. Especially
helpful in this section is a list of bibliographies to primary sources on the
topic. Names and places appearing in the various narratives are also indexed
at the end of the work.
- Mays, Joe H. Black Americans and Their Contributions Toward the Union Victory
the American Civil War, 1861-5. Lanham: University Press of America, 1984.
Secondary source; Located in VICTOR.
It is critical that a researcher on this topic fully read this text. Because
its focus is on the roles of "Black Americans and their contributions," more
than the soldiers are considered. While the text still covers the soldiers
more than any other group, orators, servants, educators, etc. and their
roles/contributions in the Civil War are acknowledged and described in
significant detail. As a result, the roles of African-American women are
covered in greater depth than any other secondary text that this researcher
found. For example, the wage disparities amongst African-American servants
to the White officers are noted: men earned about $8/month, the women $4.
Footnotes support the figures and points articulated throughout the text,
revealing that both primary and secondary sources were employed. The
bibliography provides a significant number of journal articles citations that
one might not easily encounter otherwise in research. Index is minimal.
- Murray, Pauli.(papers of). Primary source; Located in RLIN.
- Murray was an African-American activist and
historian. Series III of the papers includes her research on
African-Americans' (including women, not limited to soldiers) involvement in
the Civil War, 1861-65. They are held at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe
College, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Newman, Debra L., comp. Black History: A Guide to Civilian Records in the
National Archives. Washington, D.C: United States Government, 1984.
listing primary sources; Located in bibliography compiled by Dr. Marilyn
Pettit, June 1994.
- This is
an excellent tool to be used with both specific places of campsites and
battles, as well as for general browsing and serendipitous finds, discovering
applicable materials that one never would have guessed as such simply because
of the record groups in which they are contained.
- Quarles, Benjamin. The Negro in the Civil War. New York: Russell and Russell,
1968. Secondary source; Located in
- This text has an excellent bibliography of primary and secondary
sources with helpful annotation. In fact, this might be the most helpful
aspect of the work as a whole. The main text has no footnotes or direct
citations for quotes; minimal chapter notes at the end of the main text do
not sufficiently compensate for this deficiency.
- Ridson, Orlando.(papers of). Primary source; Located in NUCMUC, accession #
- Ridson was a Union officer, organizer of the 53rd
Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. The papers, which include useful
correspondence, military documents, financial records, and visuals such as
maps and photos, are held at the Western Reserve Historical Society,
- Roberts Family.(papers of). Primary
source; Located in NUCMUC, accession # 78-1751.
- These records include the correspondence, free
papers, and United States Colored Troops documents from several members of
the Roberts family. The materials reveal somewhat what life was life on both
ends of a "war family": for the soldier and loved ones. The papers are held
in the Library of Congress, Manuscripts Division, Washington, D.C.
- Stevenson, Brenda, ed. The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimke. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1988. Primary source with annotation; Located in
- This text includes journal entries that span
form 1854- 92. As this particular Grimke was an African-American woman, her
entries provide a special perspective on this topic. The entries are full
original text and are annotated. This edition also provides a chronology of
Grimke's life and a glossary which describes the various individuals
mentioned in the journal; both of these items are revealing in and of
- Taylor, Susie King. A Black Woman's Civil War Memoirs: Reminiscences of My
in Camp with the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops, Late 1st South Carolina
Volunteers. New York: M. Wiener Pub., 1988. Primary source; Located in
- This work, because of its unique
nature, must be included in research on this topic. In published form,
this text is the writings of an African-American woman who was involved with
the troops from age 14 to age 17; she served as a nurse, t