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Burying the Dead But Not the Past: Ladies' Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause [Hardcover]

Caroline E. Janney

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Book Description

March 1 2008 Civil War America
Women's grief seeds the Lost Cause mythology. Immediately after the Civil War, white women across the South organized to retrieve and rebury the remains of Confederate soldiers scattered throughout the region. In Virginia alone, these Ladies' Memorial Associations (LMAs) relocated and reinterred the remains of more than 72,000 soldiers, nearly 28 percent of the 260,000 Confederate soldiers who perished in the war. Challenging the notion that southern white women were peripheral to the Lost Cause movement until the 1890s, Caroline Janney claims these women's place in the historical narrative by exploring their role as the creators and purveyors of Confederate tradition between 1865 and 1915.Although not considered "political" or "public actors," upper- and middle-class white women carried out deeply political acts by preparing elaborate burials and holding Memorial Days in a region still occupied by northern soldiers. Janney argues that in identifying themselves as mothers and daughters in mourning, LMA members crafted a sympathetic Confederate position that Republicans, northerners, and, in some cases, southern African Americans could find palatable. Long before national groups such as the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the United Daughters of the Confederacy were established, Janney shows, local LMAs were earning sympathy for lost Confederates. Janney's exploration introduces new ways in which gender played a vital role in shaping the politics, culture, and society of the late nineteenth-century South.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 290 pages
  • Publisher: University of North Carolina Press (March 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080783176X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807831762
  • Product Dimensions: 23.7 x 16.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,421,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Janney has performed a valuable service in restoring the importance of the Ladies' Memorial Associations as instrumental to the Lost Cause. The LMAs were at this game much earlier than the better-known United Daughters of the Confederacy. More significant, Janney has shown how the memorial associations figured prominently in postwar political struggles." - William Blair, Pennsylvania State University"

About the Author

CAROLINE E. JANNEY is assistant professor of history at Purdue University.

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Women Show Their Political Power July 30 2012
By Robert Redd - Published on Amazon.com
The "Lost Cause" is a standard mythology in Confederate history as to why the states in rebellion against the Union were unable to secure their freedom. One of the groups responsible for the Lost Cause mythology were the Ladies Memorial Associations, the subject of a fascinating book by Caroline Janney.

Ladies Memorial Associations, or LMAs as they are called in the book, were groups of mostly elite, solidly white women that took shape almost immediately after the war. Within a year of the surrender at Appomattox there were more than seventy such groups. With the federal government of course giving priority to Union soldiers and dead the LMAs in effect took on a governmental role. Some of their goals were the helping of the poor and injured but most important was memorializing the dead and bringing dead Confederate soldiers home for a proper burial.

For Janney the women of the LMAs were becoming more political despite the traditional view that women were not interested in politics. Janney's definition of politics is the "ability of individuals or groups to wield influence in their community, state, or region". Using this definition there can be little doubt that many Southern women were indeed becoming more political.

While there were Associations across the former Confederate states this book focuses almost exclusively on those from Virginia with those from the cities of Richmond, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, Lynchburg, and Winchester. The Hollywood Memorial Association and Oakwood Memorial Association, both of Richmond, appear to have been the leading organizations and take the lead in this work.

These groups experienced much success including the formation of Confederate Memorial Day which helped lead to the celebrating of our current Memorial Day. Due to the hard work and fund raising undertaken by various LMAs many Confederate monuments, including the famous Pyramid at Hollywood Cemetery, were built. Perhaps the greatest achievement however was the finding and returning of Confederate dead and burying them in what Janey calls National Confederate Cemeteries. Thousands of Confederate dead were eventually brought "home" due to the efforts of these women.

While there were great accomplishments all was not roses for these groups. There was the constant struggle to raise money. In fact the Hollywood Memorial Association was unable to pay for the removal of all the Confederate dead from the Gettysburg battlefield. This debt haunted them for many years. Another struggle was with former Confederate men who were regaining their ability to be active politically. The men who had played a supporting role to women for many years in the immediate aftermath of the war expected the women to return to their prewar social position. These women were having no part in this and fought the men bitterly. Another struggle was declining membership as time went on. During the 1890's the rise of the United Daughters of the Confederacy also raised concerns as the UDC was seen as a younger and more vibrant organization.

Janey has put together an impressive listing of sources. She has scouted through many manuscript repositories, has referenced the remaining records of several LMAs, and has a large listing of other primary and secondary sources. The research looks to be very thorough and it shows in the writing which is smooth and easy to read.

This is a book that should be read by anybody with an interest in the post Civil War period, those wanting to learn about a seldom discussed aspect of Confederate women's history, or those interested in the memorializing of Confederate dead. Highly recommended!
4.0 out of 5 stars Correction Aug. 16 2014
By Michele Schiesser - Published on Amazon.com
Ms. Janney's book states there is only one remaining active Ladies Memorial Assn. chapter in Virginia- the one in Fredericksburg. However, right next door in Spotsylvania County is a quite active branch of the Ladies Memorial Assn. and the organization cares for the Spotsylvania Confederate Cemetery, a cemetery with hundreds of Confederate dead from the Civil War battlefields of the region. It is still an active cemetery and includes at its center a Confederate Monument surrounded by a circular drive.
4.0 out of 5 stars Remembering the dead and the Lost Cause. July 28 2014
By R. H. Swenson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This monograph is a very well written account of a seldom examined piece of post Civil War history. For anyone interested in the American Civil War - the causes, the events, and the lasting after affects, I highly recommend this book. The best way to absorb, learn, and understand this book, one must read it at least twice.

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