Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Robert C. Kenzer

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Wray

Third Advisor

Dr. R. Barry Westin


This study focuses upon the life experiences of the 70 Civil War widows of Brunswick County, Virginia, a rural, predominantly agricultural community. The death of a husband, particularly in a male-oriented society such as the nineteenth century South, forced his widow to cope not only with her grief but also with new household, financial, and family responsibilities as well as a new identity as a lone woman, a social category defined by the loss of the central source of identity and financial support experienced during married life. Factors such as age, family situation, community of residence, sources of emotional and financial support, education, property ownership, occupation, the presence or absence of minor or adult children, and the prospect of remarriage all affected how a widow dealt with her widowhood and are considered in this analysis of the lives of Civil War widows in Brunswick County, Virginia.

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