"Frankel's scholarship in this carefully researched and clearly written study is impressive. . . . The study is thoroughly documented with 70 pages of footnotes and a 14-page bibliography, refleccting Frankel's grasp of the secondary literature as well as extensive work in primary documents." —Choice
Freedom's Women examines African American women's experiences during the Civil War and early Reconstruction years in Mississippi. Exploring issues of family and work, the author shows how African American women's attempts to achieve more control over their lives shaped their attitudes toward work, marriage, family, and community.
"Frankel's scholarship in this carefully researched and clearly written study is impressive. Her examination of Civil War widows' pension records and other primary sources reveals a great deal about the importance of Mississippi slave families and how emancipation strengthened them. Although women gained fewer legal rights than men from Reconstruction, they obtained much that had been denied them during slavery. They shared family authority and economic responsibility so much that Frankel concludes the free African American family was neither patriarchal nor matriarchal, but combinations of both. Freedwomen did not rely solely on legal definitions of marriage but developed codes of morality based on community standards. Their community tolerated intimate relationships outside of legal marriages and recognized terminations of relationships without legal divorce. Extended kin were considered members of the family, and family responsibilities included support of orphans, unmarried pregnant daughters, and handicapped children. The study is thoroughly documented with 70 pages of footnotes and a 14-page bibliography, reflecting Frankel's grasp of the secondary literature as well as extensive work in primary documents. Upper-division undergraduates and above. —R. Detweiler, California Polytechnic State UniversitJune 2000"~—R. Detweiler, California Polytechnic State University San Luis, Choice