Professor of History Emerita Dr. Melissa Walker co-edited a new book about diverse Southern women for University of South Carolina Press with Giselle Roberts at LaTrobe University in Australia.
Southern Women in the Progressive Era: A Reader, includes nine selections of women telling their own stories about various aspects of Southern life in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Varying in form, the book includes a memoir by Sophonisba Breckinridge, a Kentucky-born activist, social work professor and lawyer, and an autobiography by Mary McLeod Bethune, a South Carolina-born educator and Civil Rights activist.
There are lesser known or unknown women in the book as well, including Anthelia Holt, a textile worker in Virginia who left behind a very interesting collection of letters, and columns written by Mary and Louisa Poppenheim, two South Carolina women who edited the official newspaper for southern Federation of Women’s Clubs women. Dr. Walker said, “Each selection was edited and is introduced by a women’s history scholar, and Dr. Roberts and I wrote an introduction that places their lives in the context of the Progressive-era South. It challenges a lot of long-standing assumptions about the early twentieth century South–like assumptions that there were no women preachers, for example–by letting women speak for themselves.”