July 29, 2014  

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Conference Highlights Southern Women’s Political Experience March 31 – April 2

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More than 35 presenters from universities around the nation will present the best of current scholarship on southern women and politics March 31-April 2 at the “Court House, State House, Her House” conference hosted by The University of Southern Mississippi.

This conference will take place at the Courtyard by Marriott Gulfport Beachfront in Gulfport, Miss. All presentations are free and open to the public. Lunches and receptions are open to paid registrants only.

“The month of March is routinely designated as Women’s History Month,” said Dr. Pamela Tyler, conference organizer and associate professor of history. “It’s a time when most universities and many communities feature a program or two by, and about, women. This yearthe history department at Southern Miss decided to dream a little bigger and run a conference focusing entirely on the history of southern women and politics.”

Keynote speakers are Anne Firor Scott, a pioneer in the field of U.S. women’s history and professor emerita of history at Duke University, and Marjorie Julian Spruill, professor of history at the University of South Carolina. The conference will highlight aspects of women’s experiences both before and after the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Scott will be interviewed in a conversation with University of Mississippi Professor of History Elizabeth Payne at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 31. Scott is the author of The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics(1970), One-Half the People (with husband Andrew Scott, 1976), Making the Invisible Woman Visible (1984), Natural Allies: Women’s Associations in American History (1992), Unheard Voices: the First Historians of Southern Women (1993), and Pauli Murray and Caroline Ware: 40 Years of Letters in Black and White (2006).

Her path-breaking book The Southern Lady served to establish southern women’s history as a solid field for scholarly pursuit. Since joining the history department at Duke University 50 years ago, Scott has inspired generations of scholars to pursue the study of southern women’s history, thus playing a significant role in transforming the study of the American South as it is practiced today.

“Her awards and honors are numerous. We are honored to have her with us at this conference, where we will celebrate her 90th birthday,” Tyler said.

Spruill will deliver her keynote address “Women’s Rights, Family Values and the Rise of the New Southern Politics in the 1970s,” at 5 p.m. Friday, April 1.

She specializes in women’s history and the history of the American South, and is arecognized authority on women’s rights and the woman suffrage movement. Her book New Women of the New South: the Leaders of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States (1993), based on deep exploration of southern suffragists’ papers, highlighted the complex sexual and racial politics of the New South. She has published numerous chapters and articles, as well as four other edited works on woman suffrage.

In addition, she is co-editor of Mississippi Women: Their Histories, Their Lives with Martha Swain, professor of history emerita at Texas Woman’s University, and Elizabeth Payne. Spruill also co-edited three volumes of South Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times with Valinda Littlefield, associate professor of history at the University of South Carolina and Joan Marie Johnson, lecturer at Northeastern Illinois University.

Sponsors of this event include the Mississippi Humanities Council, as well as the following entities at Southern Miss: Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, Center for the Study of the Gulf South, Department of History, Committee on Services and Women and Department of Political Science, International Development & International Affairs. The conference will feature talks on southern women in Congress, the Equal Rights Amendment, the Civil Rights Movement and much more.

For more information, visit www.usm.edu/swpc.