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
  • Large Print ISBN: 978-0-8078-6616-0
    Published: June 2010
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6332-9
    Published: November 2000
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6566-3
    Published: November 2000

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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.


"A captivating, richly researched, and elegantly written analysis of gender, race, and class at the crossroads of war and region by one of the finest historians of our generation. Drew Faust adroitly dissects the ambiguity and irresolution in the inner lives, thoughts, and experiences of elite white women who struggled to maintain status and privilege even as the necessities of Civil War transformed southern society."—Darlene Clark Hine, editor of The Encyclopedia of Black Women's History

"For well over a century, we have understood the deeds of Confederate women on the terms set by the Confederates themselves at the outset of the war. It took Drew Faust to break us out of this ancient history of virtues and sacrifices. Mothers of Invention is a transcendent book: It is fresh, insightful, compassionate, and daring."—Suzanne Lebsock, author of The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784-1860

"Drew Faust's Mothers of Invention provides a fascinating analysis of how the Civil War at once subverted and reinforced traditional gender roles among southern women. Richly textured and immensely readable, this is a major book by a major historian."—David Donald, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lincoln

"Drew Gilpin Faust brings alive the voices and feelings of southern slaveholding women as they coped with the escalating changes—and frequent disasters—with which the Civil War transformed their lives. . . . An engaging narrative that demonstrates how fully this devastating war was, in fact, a story of and by women as well as men."—Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, author of Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South

"Drew Faust provides a welcome and stunning contribution to Civil War history. . . . Faust's exhaustive evidence on everyday life and consciousness—religion, courtship, pregnancy, dress styles, and the complex but unraveling protocol of race and gender conventions—make this pathbreaking study a must-read in southern and women's history."—Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Professor of Afro-American Studies, Harvard University

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