A Family of Women

The Carolina Petigrus in Peace and War

By Jane H. Pease, William H. Pease

352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 24 illus., 2 maps, 7 figs., appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1380-2
    Published: January 2014
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2019-0
    Published: October 2017
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7094-0
    Published: October 2017

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Awards & distinctions

1999 Julia Cherry Spruill Publication Prize, Southern Association for Women Historians

The often-stereotyped belles and matrons of the nineteenth-century South emerge as diverse personalities in this compelling account of three generations of women from a South Carolina family whose fate rose and fell with the fortunes of the state. Through vivid, interwoven life stories, the book offers a unique perspective on how these women conducted their lives, shared personal triumphs and defeats, endured the deprivations and despair of civil war, and experienced a social revolution.

A Family of Women focuses on the female descendants of Louise Gibert Pettigrew (later changed to Petigru), who rose from upcountry obscurity to privileged prominence in Charleston and on low country plantations, where they variously flourished as belles, managed large households, shocked society with their unconventionality, educated their children, endured troubled marriages, and maintained close family ties. Using the letters, diaries, novels, and memoirs of the Petigru women and the material culture surrounding them, the authors weave a complex story of women well worth knowing.

About the Authors

Jane H. Pease is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Maine and an associate in history at the College of Charleston.
For more information about Jane H. Pease, visit the Author Page.

William H. Pease is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Maine and an associate in history at the College of Charleston.
For more information about William H. Pease, visit the Author Page.


"If the truism that fact is more interesting than fiction needs proof, it is to be found in A Family of Women."--Journal of Southern History

"This book . . . seems destined to bring the history of southern women the wide readership it has long deserved. . . . All readers will be grateful for the detailed genealogical charts the authors have provided to trace the complicated connections among this fascinating 'family of women.'"--Journal of American History

"This book is a good read. . . . Jane H. and William H. Pease have done a remarkable job of constructing a lucid and engaging narrative."--American Historical Review

"The exceedingly rich detail [the Peases] weave into their narrative will enable other historians to draw their own conclusions on how issues of race, gender, and class impacted on the lives of plantation women before and after the cataclysmic divide of the Civil War. . . . The story the Peases relate is a fascinating one, and a very useful epilogue pulls together many of its threads."--Journal of the Early Republic

"A Family of Women exemplifies the value of a thoughtful, detailed description of the ‘world’ that Southern women made before, during, and after the Civil War. Conveying a wealth of information, carefully nuanced in personal observations drawn from the Petigru family’s extensive correspondence, the Peases provide a compelling portrait of the lives of white southern women in one extended family over several generations."---American Studies

"A fascinating story of devotion and loss, beautifully told. . . . Scholars and general readers will find A Family of Women a valuable contribution to the chronicle of the Southern past. By tracing the Petigru women’s lives throughout the nineteenth century, the book has a scope that clearly reveals social change, especially that brought about by the Civil War."--Civil War History