Scarlett's Sisters

Young Women in the Old South

By Anya Jabour

384 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 26 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5960-5
    Published: February 2009
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-8764-6
    Published: November 2009

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Scarlett's Sisters explores the meaning of nineteenth-century southern womanhood from the vantage point of the celebrated fictional character's flesh-and-blood counterparts: young, elite, white women. Anya Jabour demonstrates that southern girls and young women faced a major turning point when the Civil War forced them to assume new roles and responsibilities as independent women.

Examining the lives of more than 300 girls and women between ages fifteen and twenty-five, Jabour traces the socialization of southern white ladies from early adolescence through young adulthood. Amidst the upheaval of the Civil War, Jabour shows, elite young women, once reluctant to challenge white supremacy and male dominance, became more rebellious. They adopted the ideology of Confederate independence in shaping a new model of southern womanhood that eschewed dependence on slave labor and male guidance.

By tracing the lives of young white women in a society in flux, Jabour reveals how the South's old social order was maintained and a new one created as southern girls and young women learned, questioned, and ultimately changed what it meant to be a southern lady.

About the Author

Anya Jabour is professor of history at the University of Montana. She is author of Marriage in the Early Republic: Elizabeth and William Wirt and the Companionate Ideal and editor of Major Problems in the History of American Families and Children.
For more information about Anya Jabour, visit the Author Page.


"Nicely written, clearly argued, and complemented by good illustrations. . . . An admirable book with a strong argument that invites all historians of the nineteenth century South to rethink the confines of elite white womanhood."--North Carolina Historical Review

"Jabour knows that the young women were both privileged and subordinate, oppressors and oppressed. . . . This well written and superbly illustrated book is an admirable introduction to their world."--American Historical Review

"Well written, meticulously researched. . . . Fine, refreshing contribution to the literature on gender in the early republic."--Journal of the Early Republic

"Extensive research into the personal papers of more than three hundred young women convincingly demonstrates the self-conscious nature of these girls' transformations."--Georgia Historical Quarterly

"Excellent. . . . Compellingly written and intriguing. . . . Southern, women's and general historians should read [it]."--Journal of Southern History

"Anya Jabour makes a compelling case in Scarlett's Sisters that age and generation are as important as class, race, and gender as categories of analysis, and that adolescent girls and young women are particularly situated to shed light on many of the questions southern historians have been debating for decades. . . . This important book should generate discussion. It is highly readable and clear, with many wonderful quotations."--Journal of American History