During the Civil War, some women chose to act outside the “sphere of domesticity,” while others opted to stay within their traditional gender roles. Whichever they chose, most women took an active role in helping their side for the civil war.
Women like Alice Chaplin kept their gender roles in order to keep from disappointing those around them. The majority of men, including Chaplin’s husband, were very apposed to having their way of life changed. In their eyes, women could not get jobs, be community leaders, or fight in the war. Chaplin still helped the soldiers as much as she could, helping fire victims and providing medical aid, but she struggled in poverty because of her inability to take an active role in society.
Comparatively, many women, like Rose O’Neal and Claire Barton, took a role in the Civil War that far exceeded their “sphere of domesticity.” Rose O’Neal did this by acting as a spy for the confederate army. She refused to surrender to the Union forces, and was imprisoned for espionage. Still her patriotism did not fail, and Rose attempted to escape back to the south carrying gold and secrets with her. These actions taken by this amazing woman were far outside of the sphere of domesticity that most women of her time stayed trapped within, and enviably got her recognized as a hero by the
Confederates despite her gender. Claire Barton, another civil war women, was also not afraid to step outside of the limitations of her society. Barton was not only a nurse for the Union army, but she founded the American Red Cross and made it expected for the government to bury and identify their dead. Like Rose O’Neal, Claire Barton was well respected by even the men around her, setting her greatly apart from the women who chose to remain within their ‘sphere of domestiity.’
Weather they stayed within society’s classifications of being a ‘lady,’ or boldly broke the limitations placed upon them, women bot in and outside of the sphere of domesticity played active roles in the Civil War. The only difference weather the individual wanted to stay within or outside of their assumed ‘sphere of domesticity.’
All images are taken from the Padlet quilt square activity in class where each group had to post a quilt square depicting a prominent women in the Civil War. The padlet can be found at http://padlet.com/wall/bblockcivilwarquilt