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State Library and Archives Showcases Stories from 'Women in the Civil War' Collection
(Published: March 5, 2014)

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War offers an extended opportunity to commemorate all aspects of one of the country's most significant historical events. And because March is Women's History Month, the Tennessee State Library and Archives will be highlighting the stories of women from our new digital collection, "Women in the Civil War," on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TNStateLibraryArchives.

Some historians have argued that women's experiences during that time were even more varied than those of the men who served on the front lines. Women of all social classes experienced the war in some way, whether through deprivation, loss of loved ones, disintegration of social norms, or - in at least a few hundred documented cases - actual battlefield experience.

"Women in the Civil War" showcases female participation in the war, revealing that women experienced the crisis just as actively as their sons, husbands, and fathers. Women serving on Civil War battlefields have attracted some attention from historians, and the women featured in the collection all contributed to the Union or Confederacy in their own ways. The war, fought mainly on Southern soil, brought out the ingenuity and resourcefulness as well as the observant eyes of the region's female population.

Included in this collection are records from the Tennessee Hospital Association of Nashville, which provide details about how the organization assisted the war effort through fundraising, sewing clothing and other items, and helping staff area hospitals.

A large portion of the collection contains excerpts from the diaries of three Tennessee women: Rachel Carter Craighead, Nannie Haskins, and Lucy Virginia Smith French. Each of these women's social spheres afforded them leisure and education, which they used to journal extensively on the events of the day.

"Looking through our 'Women in the Civil War' collection is a great way to celebrate Women's History Month," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "Some people may be surprised to learn the extent to which women contributed to both sides during the Civil War. This online collection is one more way we're trying to make the State Library and Archives' resources available to people throughout Tennessee."