Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Kevin Barksdale, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael E. Woods

Third Advisor

Dr. Kat D. Williams


“’Our Women Are Made of the Right Stuff:’ Gender, Politics, and Conflict in Civil War West Virginia” examines the lives and contributions of white West Virginia women and argues that they were not merely victims of the war, but dynamic participants whose opinions were influential and whose actions determined the ability of both the Union and Confederate armies to wage war in Appalachia. Striking a balance between the antebellum standards of “True Womanhood” and the emerging ideals of the women’s rights movement, West Virginia women became politically engaged in both the statehood movement and the Civil War. They transformed their traditional domestic work into essential political and material support through the use of kinship networks and ladies’ aid societies. West Virginia women also participated in the economic lives of their communities through their engagement in both legal and illegal business practices. As the opposing armies occupied their state, West Virginia women relied upon assumptions about their feminine nature and acted outside of conventional gender norms to both support and resist invading forces. Regardless of their partisan loyalties, Unionist and Confederate West Virginia women shared similar experiences of hardship throughout the Civil War and learned to adapt their behavior and actions as their situations required in order to survive. This thesis contributes to the field of Civil War history by not only examining the effects of the war in Appalachia, but is of vital importance in comprehending the impact of Appalachian women on the outcome of the Civil War.


United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Women.

United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- West Virginia.