Polson – Paper Topic

There are so many unique and interesting areas open for exploration that settling on one paper topic instantly will be a difficult feat. Thus, my topic choice will likely evolve, and may even change completely. I am interested in exploring how socioeconomic class determined and affected women’s roles in society in the late 19th century, specifically in Durham. After reading and interacting with the Mayo Greenleaf Patch reading over the course of two semesters now, I hope to reflect this style of writing in my own paper. Exploring women’s roles in this manner would then require the study of one or a few specific individuals. I am hoping to research the lives of both a woman in the Duke family and a more “common” woman also living in Durham at the time to discover potential similarities and differences in their roles. The initial discovery of these women may prove difficult, but I am hoping the eventual comparison can reveal trends and be useful in dictating historical viewpoints of the time.

One Reply to “Polson – Paper Topic”

  1. Hi Sophie,
    Sophie—two thoughts—focus on women—you’ve got Mattie Southgate and Southgate family materials. We don’t have much on Washington Duke’s wives because they died at relatively young ages but ut perhaps more on the wives of JB Duke and BN Duke. And good material in Southgate=Jones collection. https://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/findingaids/sjones/
    One other thought—do you want to look at the different ways women support themselves economically? You can use the 1880 census to find women in business—Boarding house, milliner—could use census, city directory Rigsbee ledger, maybe tax list? Who are the women who are “keeping house?” What are the occupational titles given to women who are not keeping house? (e.g women who are servants, cooks,) How is women’s farm work represented? What evidence for women’s entrepreneurial activity? What does the tax list tell us about women and landownership? Does the agricultural census of 1880 list any women farmers?

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