Increasing Spectator & Civilian Interaction


Spectator friendly activities


·        Sewing – Invite spectators to try sewing and handiwork projects. If you are working on a treadle or hand-crank sewing machine, invite them to try the machine. If you are quilting, have an extra needle and thread started for them to try. If need be, you can remove the stitches at the end of the event.

·        Spinning and Weaving – If you are working with fibers, have a drop spindle or small loom on hand for them to try.

·        Knitting – Have an extra ball of yarn and a set of needles for spectators to try.

·        Food – Have them churn butter. (one of the few food relate activities that are allowable.)

·        Laundry – If doing a partial laundry impression without the hot water and caustic chemicals, spectators can participate. Scrubbing wet clothes and hanging them can be a favorite of children.

·        Games – Almost every child and many adults love to play with period games. If your children are playing, invite a visiting spectator family to play as well. This will give the adults plenty of question and answer time as well. Parlor games are fun and often new to adult spectators. Invite them to join your game of conundrums or tableax vivants.


Inviting Spectators to participate


·        It is important to offer an opportunity to try an activity to a spectator. Often they will be interested but to shy to ask.




Potential Spectator Hazards

·        It is generally best not to have spectators handle original items outside of control situations with the proper surface and gloves.

·        Spectators should not be allowed to handle or taste food.

·        Spectators, though very interested, should not be allowed handle sharp or hot objects.

·        Spectators should not be allowed to handle loaded firearms.

·        Spectators should be kept a safe distance from fires.




Working with School Groups & Encouraging Student Interest


·        Younger spectators relate better to the character, personalities, and personal stories of people rather than facts, details and technical concepts.

·        Presenting a concept, event or series of events from the perspective of a character helps a student connect and develops a story-line.

·        Give students the opportunity to think critically and voice their perspectives on issues and events.

·        Link past events with present day experiences kids can relate to. Example – Soldiers’ aide groups gathering supplies for CW soldiers compared to student groups gathering items for care packages for soldiers.

·        Provoke curiosity and creativity.

·        Themes that can work well with students include

o       Choosing between different options, right and wrong

o       Dealing with pressure from peers and superiors

o       Needs, wants and problems solving – ex. How to provide food for your family if there wasn’t any available to purchase? What would a soldier do if he saw a cool stream of water during a hot day of marching?





Tips for Teaching the Civil War




·        Document analysis worksheets

Published in: on March 21, 2009 at 9:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Women During the Civil War

This is the outline I use with our Women’s History class to discuss women during the war.

I         The status of women in the 1850s

A       Separate spheres – During much of the 1800s, an ideal was set where women and men maintained separate spheres of life. In this ideal of separate spheres, men centered in the public sphere of work and politics, while women centered in the private sphere of home and family. Granted, reality seldom reflects an ideal. The general idea was that a woman focus her attentions on the moral development of the family while caring for the home because she was unfit for the sullied public world of business and politics. This ideal played out differently in the varied parts of society as life in the 19th century developed. Factors such as socio-economic status, family philosophy, education and theology and regional industrialization greatly influenced a woman’s adherence to this separatist concept.

1        Most middle-class women’s lives were confined to the home. Their daily life consisted mostly of child rearing, maintaining the home, clothing the family and feeding the family. Leisure activity was directly related to the home such as sewing for the home’s or family’s needs. Socialization also took place in the home or church. Any influence they had on the public world was to be through their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons.

2        Working class women’s lives included home and possibly work outside the home if she worked.


B       Legal rights of women – The legal rights of women were primarily governed by the states and therefore varied from state to state.

Right to own Real and personal property – A woman’s married status often determined her right to own real and personal property. In most states married women did not have the right to own real or personal property. This was because most States’ laws were based on English Common Law where a single woman maintained the same property rights as a man prior to marriage, while once married in a state of coverture, a woman’s legal identity combined with that of her husband. In the married state, her property, wages, and any inheritance became his to own, manage, and sell without her consent. She was unable to sign a contract, purchase or sell property, or sue without his participation. [An Economic Necessity: Women in Colonial America, Developed by Women in American Culture, Title IV, ESEA, Northfield, Minnesota]

a         Laws affecting the property rights of women.

·        Connecticut 1809 – Allowed women to write wills.

·        New York State’s Married Women’s Property Act passed April 7, 1848 gave women the right to continue ownership over property owned by her prior to marriage. This property was protected against being sold by the husband or used to settle his debts. The act also gave married women the right to own personal and real property acquired during the marriage as well as the right to receive by gift, grant or bequest property. Laws similar to this were passed in other states in the 1850s.

·        New York State’s Married Women’s Property Law passed in 1860 added to the 1848 Act, giving women legal control over their own wages, the ability to buy, sell or trade property and joint custody of children with their husband. It also gave women the right to sue and be sued. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony helped get this law passed. (See Married Women’s Property Laws: Law Library of Congress . If you look for further information, search phrases from the law itself rather than the title, which will give you information on British laws more than the US.)

2        Rights to wages – In most states, a woman’s husband had legal rights to his wife’s wages. A single woman had sole control over her own money.

3        Types of jobs held by women

a         Basics

·        Women could earn money from home by doing piece work, taking in laundry, plaiting straw, selling eggs, etc.

·        Women were more likely to work outside of the home if they were single or if they lived in New England or the frontier.

b        Regional influences

·        Young women were more likely to work in New England areas where mill work was common.

·        Women were more likely to work as domestics in urban areas.

c         Jobs traditionally held by men to note due to later war influence

·        Nurses

·        Teachers


C       Social position of women

1        A Woman’s identity – Often a woman’s identity was defined by her relationship to a man. Prior to marriage she was identified through her father; during marriage through her husband; during widowhood through her son. This identity often included financial ability and social positioning.



II     Women during the Civil War

A       Women at home          

1        Family – Wives, Daughters, Mothers

2        Home responsibilities

3        Work/financial responsibilities


B       Women in the Community

1        Work/financial responsibilities

2        War/soldier support and Aide Societies

a         Aide Societies

·        Collecting materials

·        Raising funds

b        Emotional and religious support


C       Women participation

1        Nurses

a         Field Nurses

b        Hospital Nurses


2        Spies

a         Those accused

b        Those by chance

c         Those who were


3        Christian Commission

a          Formed November 16, 1861 (A Memorial Record of the New York Branch of the United States Christian Commission, 1866) by the Young Men’s Christian Association  – to promote “the spiritual good of the soldiers and incidentally their intellectual improvement and social and physical comfort.” (Annals of the United States Christian Commission, Moss, p. 107)

b        Ladies Christian Commission – Auxiliary to the USCC

·        Became official on May 4, 1864 (Founding document available at Google books)

c         Approx 5,000 delegates distributed over $6,000,000 worth of supplies – bibles, tracts, books, newspapers, hymnals, stationary & envelopes for letters, food, medical aid, clothing. (Christendom Anno Domini MDCCCCI, New York, 1902. p361)

d        Dietary Kitchens

e         Coffee Wagon – patented in 1863

f          Loan library


4        Local Aid Societies

a         Rochester Soldier’s Aid Society (annual reports available at Cornell University.)

·        The RSAS collected goods, clothing and food from the area, including Monroe, Ontario, and Livingston Counties. The goods were distributed through the Sanitary Commissions, Christian Commission, and directly.


5        Sanitary Commissions

a         The United States Sanitary Commission

The US Sanitary Commission was organized June 9, 1861 to combat the unhealthy, unsanitary conditions in military camps and hospitals. Diseases like malaria, dysentery, diarrhea and typhoid ran rampant at times. It is estimated that for every man killed in battle, two died from disease. The USSC worked with the Army Medical Department to improve sanitation and conditions for soldiers. This included the construction of well ventilated hospitals, the creation of a nursing corps, collection and organization of food, clothing, personal and medical supplies.

The USSC was run primarily by civilians. It was divided into three departments:

The Department of Preventative Services inspected camps and hospitals.

The Department of General Relief managed the supplies of food, clothing, bandages, furniture and medicines.

The Department of Special Relief included the development of Soldiers’ Homes providing shelter, food and medical care for soldiers.

b         New England Soldier’s Aid Society (Annual Report of the New-England Women’s Auxiliary Association) organized local contributions to the Sanitary Commission.


6        Women as soldiers

a         Women were not allowed in either military. Still, some followed husbands who were joining and some joined on their own.

b        Estimate 250 women served in the Confederate military.

c         Some were found during medical exams or after being injured.

d        Some were discovered when they were captured. Southern newspapers contain numerous accounts of women soldiers and spies who were captured.



III  Notable individuals during the Civil War


Harriet Beecher Stowe – Abolitionist who encouraged Northerners to aide slaves reach freedom.  Stowe was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851) and A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1853). 
Clara Barton – Prior to the war she was a teacher in Massachusetts and the first woman to work in the US Patent Office. During the war she was a battlefield nurse. At the end of the war she helped identify missing and unknown soldiers.  She founded the American Red Cross in 1881.
Rose O’Neal Greenhow – Greenhow was a spy for the Confederacy during the early years of the war including the battle of Bull Run/Manassas. She traveled to Britain and France to rouse sympathies for the Confederacy. She died at sea in 1864.
Dr. Mary Edwards Walker – She became a doctor in June, 1855 when she graduated from Syracuse Medical College. She was an acting assistant surgeon in the US Patent Office Hospital, then a field surgeon for the US Army. She was the only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, for her service during the Civil War. She was a proponent of women’s rights and dress reform who wore Turkish trousers instead of common woman’s dress.

Mary Todd Lincoln – Wife of President Lincoln. She was born in Kentucky she was seen by many Northerners as possibly having Southern sympathies though she adamantly supported abolition.
Varnia Jefferson Davis – Wife of Jefferson Davis, Confederate President.
Harriet Tubman – Former Maryland slave who helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad through New York State. During the war she was a cook, a nurse and a spy for the Union. She worked with a network of former slaves who reported on Confederate camps and troop movements.
Pauline Cushman – At the beginning of the war she was an actress in Louisville. She became a spy for the Union army following Confederate troops.
Dorothea Lynde Dix– Dix was the Superintendent of Nurses for the Union Army. She was an advocate for prison reform and worked to improve conditions for the mentally ill.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton – One of the first leaders of the women’s rights and suffrage movements. She formed with Susan B. Anthony the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869.

Sarah E. Thompson – Worked with her husband in the Greenville, Tennessee area organizing Union sympathizers.

Published in: on January 8, 2009 at 8:46 am  Leave a Comment