Civil War Era America Essay Proposal

This is an Essay Proposal/Plan. I’ve designed a brief plan and have consulted it with the tutor and got some feedback already. I’ll show you the plan I had and the tutor’s feedback, what you need to do is to improve it base on the feedback and put it together following the instruction below.


In this proposal, you need to include 4 elements:

  • The research question you have devised, which is “how did the civil war challenge ideas around femininity?”
  • A statement regarding the method you will use to answer this question (e.g. core issues or topics that the essay will explore, some sense of your overall argument, how you will use your primary and secondary research to evidence and prove sections)
  • A statement regarding the historical scholarship (e.g. core themes or debates that have emerged so far in your research)
  • Footnotes and a partial Bibliography. When researching and writing the Essay Proposal and Plan, be cautious in your use of internet web sites (and remember, Wikipedia is not an academic secondary source).


Below is the plan I had, there is also a powerpoint uploaded.


The topic I picked is “how did the civil war challenge ideas around femininity”. I am interested in this topic because throughout history, women have always been placed at the lower level of the social pyramid in nearly every society and women did not get to share in certain rights that men got to obtain.However, during the time of the Civil War, this all began to change. Because men began to leave to fight in the war, many job positions were left empty, so women stepped up and began to take over the roles that were exclusive to men.


I am going to explore the topic by looking into the before and during civil war period


For the before civil period,

The first approach I have for this period is how the society see women.This period is often referred to as a “cult of domesticity” or “cult of true womanhood”, which includes the beliefs that women should be more religious than men, pure in heart, body and mind, compliant to men and should stay at home while men to work outside jobs.


The second approach iswomen’s role and responsibilities. And the role and responsibilities are to be a housewife, do day-to-day housekeeping, create a loving and nurturing environment for their husband and children.


The last approach is the emergence of woman’s right, during that period, many American women were beginning to chafe against the “Cult of True Womanhood”  and there were somewomen’s rights movements. The main purpose of these movements advocate for basic rights for women, such as to participate in government, to vote, receive an education and own property. Although, these movements were often unsuccessful and led to little or no changes in the treatment of women before civil war.



For the during civil war period,


The first approach is the change of role. Since men went off to fight in war, many jobs in society were left abandoned, and it became such a necessity that women take over the role of men in economy during that time, and their services began to be called upon by things such as posters and newspapers. Thus women’s role shifted from housewife to take on many of the jobs previously worked by men. Some of the most common responsibilities of women at that period are laboured as nurses, government clerks, factory workers, members or charitable organisations that assisted soldiers, and otherwise helped the war effort.



The next approach is the different role in the North and South. Although all women were affected by the Civil War, the experience differed greatly for women in the North and Women of the South. It was most common for Women in the North to expand their work in the factories and manufacturing, and they had already become accustomed to that type of labor before the war begun because of the industrialisation in the north. On the other hand, it became very typical for women in the south to take over the task of running a plantation.




The last approach for this period is emerging female voices, and in this approaches I will refer to Clara Barton who founded the American Red Cross and Mary Boykin Chestnut and Mary Livermore.




Here is the tutor’s suggestions:

  1. don’t overstate the short term over long term impact
  2. for the before period, the north and south understood the “true womanhood” differently, and different class also see it differently. That’s the part to be improved on
  3. do include something about black woman
  4. include “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860” by Barbara Welter as one of the historical scholorship.



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