Mothers of Invention

Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War

By Drew Gilpin Faust

326 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 38 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5573-7
    Published: October 2004
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6332-9
    Published: November 2000
  • Large Print ISBN: 978-0-8078-6616-0
    Published: June 2010

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Awards & distinctions

1997 Francis Parkman Prize, Society of American Historians

A 1997 New York Times Notable Book

Honorable Mention, 1996 Professional/Scholarly Division Annual Awards, Association of American Publishers

1996 Jefferson Davis Award, Museum of the Confederacy

1997 Avery O. Craven Award, Organization of American Historians

When Confederate men marched off to battle, southern women struggled with the new responsibilities of directing farms and plantations, providing for families, and supervising increasingly restive slaves. Drew Faust offers a compelling picture of the more than half-million women who belonged to the slaveholding families of the Confederacy during this period of acute crisis, when every part of these women's lives became vexed and uncertain.

About the Author

Drew Gilpin Faust is president of Harvard University. Her books includeSouthern Stories: Slaveholders in Peace and War and The Creation of Confederate Nationalism: Ideology and Identity in the Civil War South.
For more information about Drew Gilpin Faust, visit the Author Page.


"Faust has the sensibility that I most admire in a historian: the capacity to enter imaginatively into a world very different from our own and to write about it with understanding and sympathy even when we find that world morally abhorrent."—Gordon S. Wood, Wall Street Journal

"Faust recreates a society in the depths of social, military, and economic disintegration, and shows its corrosive effect upon the morals and manners of white Southerners who were members of the elite. . . . She has created a remarkable portrait of upper-class Confederate women's wartime experience, and done so with an economy of words and a spirit of engagement that places her work among the finest of recent histories of American women."--Bertram Wyatt-Brown, The New York Review of Books

"A dramatically revealing study of how the war altered these women's identities. . . . I read with unanticipated fascination, spellbound by the gathered voices, their passion and stamina, their gifts of introspection and observation. . . . [Faust looks] directly at the past, with a daughter's hard, steady gaze, and with a daughter's generous heart."--Josephine Humphreys, The New York Times Book Review

"Faust makes a major contribution to both Civil War historiography and women's studies in this outstanding analysis. . . . [A] provocative analysis of a complex subject."--Publishers Weekly

"A wonderfully researched chronicle of a largely unexamined social elite that enriches the fields of Civil War and women's studies. . . . This is a fine, caring social history that also offers surprising insights into the development of the southern American woman's consciousness."--Kirkus Reviews

"Drawing on the diaries, letters, memoirs, and creative works of the South's slaveholding class, Faust adds fresh and provocative insights and nuances to the Southern female experiences. . . . Profoundly stimulating in its ability to impart larger meanings to the daily activities of the female half of the Southern master class in wartime, this book belongs in academic and public library collections in women's, Civil War, and Southern history."--Choice

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