Gender and Jim Crow

Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920

By Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore

410 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 11 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4596-7
    Published: September 1996
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-1245-4
    Published: April 2013

Gender and American Culture

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Awards & distinctions

1997 Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians

Lerner-Scott Dissertation Prize in U.S. Women's History, Organization of American Historians

1996 Heyman Prize, Yale University

1997 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize, Southern Association for Women Historians

1997 James A. Rawley Prize, Organization of American Historians

Glenda Gilmore recovers the rich nuances of southern political history by placing black women at its center. She explores the pivotal and interconnected roles played by gender and race in North Carolina politics from the period immediately preceding the disfranchisement of black men in 1900 to the time black and white women gained the vote in 1920. Gender and Jim Crow argues that the ideology of white supremacy embodied in the Jim Crow laws of the turn of the century profoundly reordered society and that within this environment, black women crafted an enduring tradition of political activism. According to Gilmore, a generation of educated African American women emerged in the 1890s to become, in effect, diplomats to the white community after the disfranchisement of their husbands, brothers, and fathers. Using the lives of African American women to tell the larger story, Gilmore chronicles black women's political strategies, their feminism, and their efforts to forge political ties with white women. Her analysis highlights the active role played by women of both races in the political process and in the emergence of southern progressivism. In addition, Gilmore illuminates the manipulation of concepts of gender by white supremacists and shows how this rhetoric changed once women, black and white, gained the vote.

About the Author

Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, a seventh-generation North Carolinian, is Peter V. and C. Vann Woodward Professor of History at Yale University.
For more information about Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, visit the Author Page.


"This is an accessible, informative addition to an increasingly important area of study."--Publishers Weekly

"Glenda Gilmore's stunning new book, Gender and Jim Crow, . . . turn[s] history on its head . . . with African-American women at the center. . . . Grasping the story requires a fundamental redefinition of politics and political action. . . . Women's history just doesn't look the same after reading Gilmore's work. Nor does political history. . . . Gender and Jim Crow is an eloquent book about the 'best' that we can hold up against political vampires in our own time."--Nation

"An exquisitely written and conceived book about turn-of-the-century North Carolina."--New Republic

"In this stunning reclamation of some largely bypassed aspects of Southern history, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore casts a vivid light on the nexus of race, gender and power in North Carolina from the late 19th century through the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment (which gave women the vote) in 1920. Gilmore's finely crafted, engrossing book puts women at the center of its inquiry."--Washington Post Book World

"Gilmore's varied examples provide a powerful portrait of the depth and scope of black political activity during this difficult period, as well as the relentlessness of the white supremacy movement, and offer further insight into the origins of the modern civil rights movement. . . . Gilmore presents her research with clarity and vigor. . . . The book convinces because of its rigorous scholarship [and] permanently revises the accepted history of the Jim Crow period."--Kirkus Reviews

"An exquisitely written and conceived book. . . . One mark of a good historian is the capacity to surprise, and Gilmore confounds our expectations from the outset by casting Jim Crow not as the logical culmination of the benighted situation of black people in the post-Reconstruction era--the popular view of the subject--but as a catastrophic occurrence in a potent field of democratic progress in the late 1880s and early 1890s."--Christine Stansell, New Republic