North Carolina Women

Making History

By Margaret Supplee Smith, Emily Herring Wilson

Foreword by Doris Betts

North Carolina Women

420 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 color and 238 b&w illus., 1 table, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5820-2
    Published: February 2007

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Awards & distinctions

1999 Mayflower Society Award for Nonfiction, North Carolina Literary and Historical Association

For generations, books on North Carolina history have included the names of only a few women. But in addition to such well-known and legendary figures as Queen Elizabeth I and Virginia Dare, a multitude of other women influenced the making of North Carolina. These women's stories have rarely been told, in part because their contributions tended to occur in the relative privacy of their families and communities.

This lively and comprehensive volume finally accords North Carolina women their long-awaited place in history. Margaret Supplee Smith and Emily Herring Wilson bring together a wealth of materials to demonstrate how North Carolina women lived, from the days of early native settlements to the end of World War II. Filled with names, places, colorful anecdotes, and more than two hundred photographs and documents that bring to life important moments in history, North Carolina Women establishes the critical influence of women in shaping the character and economy of the state and the values of its citizens.

The narratives embedded in women's history, presented chronologically, create an enormous landscape across time--broadly analyzed and meticulously detailed. By considering the particular contours of gender, race, class, religion, and geography, the authors reveal the diversity and complexity of women's lives and experiences. Interspersed throughout the book are biographies of twenty-two North Carolina women, from Cherokee Beloved Woman Nanye'hi and frontierswoman Rebecca Bryan Boone to civil rights scholar and priest Pauli Murray and political activist Gladys Avery Tillett.

About the Authors

Margaret Supplee Smith is professor of art at Wake Forest University. She coordinated the North Carolina Women's History Project for the North Carolina Museum of History and curated the women's history exhibition that opened the museum's new building.
For more information about Margaret Supplee Smith, visit the Author Page.

Emily Herring Wilson is author of Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence--A Friendship in Letters and No One Gardens Alone: A Life of Elizabeth Lawrence. She lives in Winston-Salem.

For more information about Emily Herring Wilson, visit the Author Page.


"Richly annotated, copiously illustrated and painstakingly researched, this volume seeks to fill in all the gaps caused by partial and incomplete histories of North Carolina's women. . . . A valuable reference work for American and women's history."--Kliatt

"A comprehensive, richly textured survey that integrates women into North Carolina's history from the pre-colonial era to the end of World War II. . . . A useful reference for historians yet accessible to a general audience as well."--Journal of Southern History

"[A] stupendous addition to the literature of the state."--Fayetteville Observer Times

"Authoritative. . . . The elegant, outsized volume is an inviting, lavishly illustrated narrative that fills in the glaring gaps that marred the standard histories. . . . A marvelously organized, superbly readable portrayal of what women were doing while explorers were exploring, soldiers were soldiering, governors were governing, from those early days of Raleigh’s early colony through World War II, when women actually got into the fight themselves. . . . Its uniqueness gives it wings and its incomparable execution is sure to earn it accolades in more than one field."--Durham Herald-Sun

"Using the women’s own voices, taken from their written words and collections of oral histories, along with the revealing, passing remarks of leading men of the day, the authors chronicle a story of change that at times shows women taking one step forward and three steps back. . . . With sometimes stunning detail, it fills in some of the holes left in other books that claim to tell how North Carolina came to be what it is."--Raleigh News & Observer

"Stunning in scope, elegantly presented, and meticulously researched, North Carolina Women fills a huge void in our understanding of the role of women in the Tar Heel state. Not only is this essential reading for scholars, but the volume should appeal to anyone interested in North Carolina, southern, and women's history."--Alan D. Watson, University of North Carolina at Wilmington