The Secret Eye

The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889

Edited by Virginia Ingraham Burr; Introduction by Nell Irvin Painter

494 pp., 6 x 9

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4273-7
    Published: March 1990
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2079-4
    Published: March 2014
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6487-1
    Published: March 2014

Gender and American Culture

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The journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, spanning the years from 1848 to 1889, is rare for its treatment of both the Civil War and postbellum years and for its candor and detail in treating these eras. Thomas, who was born to wealth and privilege and reared in the tradition of the southern belle, tells of the hard days of war and the poverty brought on by emancipation and Reconstruction. Her entries illuminate experiences shared with thousands of other southern women.

About the Author

For more information about Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, visit the Author Page.


"An involving and intriguing addition to the personal histories of the period . . . told by a privileged woman who gathered strength and independence from disaster."--Kirkus Reviews

"In this fascinating abridged journal, a Southern belle shows that the events portrayed in Gone with the Wind were much less romantic in real life."--Publishers Weekly

"A rare, continuous picture of one privileged slaveholding woman's response to the crumbling of her world in the trauma of war and its aftermath. This dramatic and moving personal story offers an important perspective on the death of the Old South and the birth of the New."--Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, author of Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South

"Few diaries by Southern women are as rich as Thomas's account. . . . This is a real Scarlett O'Hara, with grit."--Library Journal

"The readability, the sustained interest of this diary, with its keen observations and full detail and its continuing concern with social justice, offers an unusually rich insight into a crucial period of social change."--Maryland Historical Magazine