Discussion Are Fewer Women Interested In The Civil War? If So, Why?

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Zella

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I did read recently, though, that women are less likely to major in history.
This matches up with my experience. I double-majored in English and history. Women definitely outnumbered the men in the English department, though we had a fair number of men. There was definitely more men in the history department in general, though there was still a sizable group of us women. It wasn't quite as bad as the computer science department, where my poor roommate and one other girl were the only women in the entire department, but there was a bit of a gender gap, for sure.
 
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I will propose something that has not been brought up on this post. I'm not entirely sold but there is that saying "old soul" and in my years on this earth I'm convinced that those who I would label as "young" souls are the ones entirely absorbed with themselves and their own future as opposed to any history. I find I would like to believe "old souls" have much more interest in history and have more empathy because of their past lives. Any other believers as to why we're all history nerds like me?
I haven’t decided my own position on this. However, I have read more than one novel in which the protagonist is drawn to an interest in a historical event or place that played a role in the protagonist’s past life. (For instance, “Green Darkness” by Anya Seton.)

On the other hand, in Julia Grant’s memoir, she wrote about an incident that happened on her trip around the world after she left the White House. I think that this incident happened in France, but I don’t remember. She was at some fancy dinner party at some palace. One of the other female dinner party guests confided in Mrs. Grant that this person was someone really, really famous in a past life. I forgot who, but it was someone along the lines of Cleopatra or Catherine the Great. I don’t know how much drinking was happening during this conversation. Mrs. Grant wrote that she just went along with the whole story and didn’t disagree, but I personally took it to mean that people weren’t buying this “revelation” and thought that the dinner party guest was full of bull. I took this to mean that the person who claimed to be reincarnated was being mocked.

So, even if I ever thought about the possibility of this, I don’t discuss it socially.
 
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bdtex

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Kinda obvious that fewer women are interested in the Civil War. Not sure if the numbers are growing or not either. Beyond CWT, Houston CWRT, Baton Rouge CWRT,the Jefferson Civil War Symposium, Hood's Texas Brigade Association Re-activated and my SCV Camp,I don't have but about 3 CW acquaintances but 2 are women. One is my aunt who lives in the Florida panhandle. I only see her about once a year but we find some places to do some Civil War sightseeing. She and my uncle both have health issues and limited mobility and income. I have bought and sent her some books. Found out on our last visit that she is interested in paranormal activity so now I'm looking for CW books along those lines for her.

The Houston and Baton Rouge CWRTs don't have many women but quite a few attend the Jefferson CW Symposium and HTBAR. My SCV Camp is in Galveston. I know the UDC Chapter there is struggling to stay afloat and that saddens me.

My spouse has no interest in CW battlefields or cemeteries. She did enjoy our visit to the First White House Of The Confederacy in Montgomery last year. I think she would like Natchez. I dunno. She's just not a history enthusiast. Wish I could get her interested in Varina Davis. :D
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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A fair amount of current US soldiers are women. I would assume they are the exception?
As time goes on, less of an exception... I think part of what we're seeing here and overall is generational. As more women enter military service, it will seem less and less unusual.

I was dubious about women in combat units until I served alongside several who frankly made better soldiers than some of their supposedly-superior male counterparts. I became a convert.
 

Vicksburger

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Well I do think that much of my interest in history certainly stemmed from my mother who read many history books and was very interested in history, and was very eager to share her stories and memories of hearing about the experience of her great grandfather who was in the war, and so I think it depends not on a person's sex but on how they are interested in history and all that is included in that.
 
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luinrina

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None of my female friends can understand why I am so fascinated by studying "how people killed each other" as one said to me once.
When my boss found out I'm studying the ACW she was surprised and said something along the line of "I didn't know you had an aggressive side." She told me she considered me to be a kind, gentle soul since I'm a rather quiet person and friendly to everyone. I needed to explain that I'm not so much interested in men killing men, but the individual stories behind the men and that - even a 160 years later - the war is still talked about and has repercussions in society. That she could relate to and she understood.

Partly geography/topography, partly mathematics/geometry
Oddly enough, those were my favorite subjects in school. Then again, I've often been told I'm an oddball. :rolleyes:

I'm heading to Virginia in three weeks and I'm excitedly looking forward to seeing various battlefields, to see where the men fought and how the lay of the land featured into the battle tactics. For Antietam and Gettysburg I booked guides, and I told both my primary focus is on the lay of land and how the battles evolved because of the topography. My second focus is on individual stories, anecdotes, etc. (My third focus is on enjoying the landscape. :D)

I enjoy studying the battles and campaigns to get an understanding of what happened, to know who moved where because of what circumstance. But I like keeping it in a broader sense, only down to division, maybe brigade level. I don't need to know exactly where company C of regiment x was posted; I won't be able to remember that anyway. I'm more interested in the people's motivations, their stories and emotions, and knowing about the battles/campaigns helps me with understanding them. :smile:

I also like looking at (so far pictures/videos of) cannons and muskets and hear them in action (and can't wait to see my first reenactment), but don't ask me what kind they are - Springfield or Enfield? Howitzer or Whitworth? No idea and I couldn't care less; it's all Greek weapons to me. :tongue:
 

JPK Huson 1863

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I haven’t decided my own position on this. However, I have read more than one novel in which the protagonist is drawn to an interest in a historical event or place that played a role in the protagonist’s past life. (For instance, “Green Darkness” by Anya Seton.)

On the other hand, in Julia Grant’s memoir, she wrote about an incident that happened on her trip around the world after she left the White House. I think that this incident happened in France, but I don’t remember. She was at some fancy dinner party at some palace. One of the other female dinner party guests confided in Mrs. Grant that this person was someone really, really famous in a past life. I forgot who, but it was someone along the lines of Cleopatra or Catherine the Great. I don’t know how much drinking was happening during this conversation. Mrs. Grant wrote that she just went along with the whole story and didn’t disagree, but I personally took it to mean that people weren’t buying this “revelation” and thought that the dinner party guest was full of bull. I took this to mean that the person who claimed to be reincarnated was being mocked.

So, even if I ever thought about the possibility of this, I don’t discuss it socially.

This. On the other hand my personal resistance to the idea of past lives may stem from a patent refusal to believe we have to come back and do this alllll over again. Just no. Worst cosmic practable joke ever if true.

I don't know. It's never occurred to me gender plays a role in interest no matter which aspect of the ACW is discussed. One of the best era histories I've ever read was by a woman, Arabella Wilson and we have others so we've been involved for awhile. When first hanging around this forum met two of our girl members whose knowledge of every blade of grass at Gettysburg and Antietam, much less troop movements is staggering. ( you know who you are @pamc153PA and who else I'm referring to ).

We grew up with the war. My parents each had great grandparents and uncles who fought which means their parents knew those relatives. Who became interested doesn't seem to be based on gender? Mom's 87 and can flatten most historians, Dad re-read his ACW library as long as he lived. Two sisters have no interest in the ACW but have other historical interests and my daughter graduated from Gettysburg College without knowingly setting foot on the battlefield ( don't tell her... ). Two of three sons tolerate me but have little interest, one seems smitten.

I'm not convinced there's a huge difference?
 

DBF

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When I was a little girl in Sunday School and was taught about the warrior Joshua marching around Jericho - I was hooked. In junior high school when I heard of the Trojan Horse that was brought into Troy and the ensuing surprise inside - I was intrigued. In high school when we took a trip to Lexington and Concord and walked along the Freedom Trail - I wanted to learn more. When my husband and I took our 1st trip to Gettysburg in the early 80’s - we were speechless. When my father was willing to talk about his service in World War II - it touched my heart. Everyone has an interest in something - history is mine.
 
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NH Civil War Gal

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My mother started a deep love of history in me, Colonial history because I grew up and still live in New England. I also grew up in a 1700s house and still live in one with all it’s inconveniences. Then my father told me about the the two Civil War vets his family took care of. Personally I found in New England at least women driving preservation efforts more than men.
 

1stMN

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there is a lot more to the Civil War for women than Scarlett and hoop skirts.
There is indeed! Ironically, I focus almost solely on the battle aspect of the Civil War. Very little social/cultural beyond the soldiers' memoirs I like to read. Just doesn't hold a ton of interest for me. But the battles, that is infinitely more engaging for me.
 
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NH Civil War Gal

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I’ve heard it said that, even despite gender constructs, men generally like “things” and women like “people” (relationships.) This would be a biological observation I suppose, of which I’m ignorant, except for run of the mill observations.

Nevertheless, when I, as a man, find myself thinking women are not as interested in the Civil War as are men, I often have to remind myself that what I’m really conveying is that most women are not interested in specific aspects of the Civil War in which I and other men are interested.

Civil War interest may in fact be there, but it is sometimes conveyed differently and in a way I often don’t catch or recognize. I learned that my wife really enjoyed Civil War history when I paid attention to what aspects of it she actually enjoyed and to which she responded. It took me a while to get that. Now we have great trips together to all sorts of historical places.

At any rate, that’s my two cents.
Alan you really get it! But I’m also interested in battles, artillery and what drove strategies. Not all men and I’m not sure I’ve met it on this board but sometimes when I’m trying to talk about it with a man (interested in it) they are sometimes suspicious of mine or any woman’s motives. I ran into this at Harpers Ferry with my sister standing next to me! The battlefield guide was so taken aback he came out and said it! Sigh.
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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Not all men and I’m not sure I’ve met it on this board but sometimes when I’m trying to talk about it with a man (interested in it) they are sometimes suspicious of mine or any woman’s motives.
*blink* Maybe I'm just literal-minded (I am), but what would someone think an ulterior motive would be for talking about battle tactics? Seems to me like a question always to be taken at face value.
 

Belle Montgomery

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So, let me just point out a few things.

When I was young there were few women writing about the Civil War. Ella Lonn, a name no longer widely known, had done some pioneering work on various male outgroups as well as subjects like salt supplies. Massey’s Bonnet Brigades on white women in the Confederacy was an early volume on gender studies and a moderately well-known book among Civil War enthusiasts. In looking through my own reading lists today, a lot of the best books are coming from women scholars and writers. With more women teaching Civil War Era history at the universities you may see an increase in interest by women. I did read recently, though, that women are less likely to major in history.
In a post just last month I recommended Massey's "Ersatz in the Confederacy" She is a great resource for women interested in CW Southern women's lives!!!
 
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CSA Today

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My mother started a deep love of history in me, Colonial history because I grew up and still live in New England. I also grew up in a 1700s house and still live in one with all it’s inconveniences. Then my father told me about the the two Civil War vets his family took care of. Personally I found in New England at least women driving preservation efforts more than men.
It was three women – my paternal grandmother, a fifth-grade teacher, and an old lady who had experienced the war first hand as a young girl that made me the patriot I am today.
 
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Joshism

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I did read recently, though, that women are less likely to major in history.
Most of my fellow students in upper level university history classes were education majors.

I work for a historical society with 4 coworkers under 40 (3 women & 1 man). None are history majors, but one has an archaeology degree. From my experience with archaeology groups, there seems a substantial number of female archaeologists and archaeology majors.
 

Joshism

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Maybe I'm just literal-minded (I am), but what would someone think an ulterior motive would be for talking about battle tactics? Seems to me like a question always to be taken at face value.
This is a problem in several (most?) male-dominated fields. I know female gamers and female football fans run into it. It seems an odd suspicion as the benefits to be gained seem negligible. Seems either a great deal if insecurity and/or petty gatekeeping.
 
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