Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




The purpose of this paper is not, as Carby states, to "establish the existence of an American sisterhood between black and white women," an overly optimistic effort, of which Carby is rightfully wary. Rather, this understanding of womanhood as an ideology existing concordantly with slavery, reveals the limits of personhood as it was defined for women in antebellum America. Although the dominant paradigm of womanhood did not articulate White as a race, it was acutely aware of "whiteness ... as a racial categorization" in opposition to Blackness (Carby 18). Similarly, Black women were reconstructing womanhood, creating a model that empowered Black women, in relation to the model of White womanhood. In short, the lives of Black and White women in antebellum America were inseparable, and their lives unavoidably influenced each other. Economics, politics, religion, and gender roles intertwined the lives of Black and White women in the nineteenth century so thoroughly that the history of one group cannot be understood separate from the other.