The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997 Page: 50
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
determine what their progress had been, and decide what must be done
in the future.
The fact that a woman from the patriarchal South of the 18gos was a
part of women's activities at the World's Fair is noteworthy, and Brady's
presentation heralding freedom and independence for women raises
significant questions concerning the history of the women's movement
and the effect that ideologies such as "separate spheres" and feminism
had on the thoughts and lives of the women who were engaged in the
movement.4 Further questions arise about the life and philosophy of Sue
Huffman Brady, the woman who wrote the speech, and whether south-
ern women were truly enjoying unprecedented freedom and indepen-
dence, and thus challenging cultural values and social order.
In fact, this introspective look at Brady's life and philosophy, as well as
women's participation in the fair, indicates that the ideologies of sepa-
rate spheres and feminism were elastic and not a rigid set of tenets with
some women adhering to one or the other. The interplay between the
two ideologies presents some interesting ironies that weave themselves
through the chronology of the fair. Those ironies shed light on the cur-
rent effort to reexamine separate spheres as a viable framework for the
interpretation of intellectual history. I will analyze how women's lan-
guage, consciousness, and political activities reflected the connections
between public and private spheres within the contest of the 1893
Because Sue Huffman Brady addressed the auxiliaries as a spokesper-
son from the South, characterization of the region's cultural and politi-
cal climate there is warranted. Although historians refer to the South
after the Civil War as the "New South," it was not a likely place for women
to pursue equality.6 In Texas, where Brady resided, legal proscriptions
' Duncan R. Jamieson, "Women's Rights at the World's Fair, 1893," Illinois Quarterly, XXXVII
(Dec., 1974), 5-20.
4 Even in the late nineteenth century, American women traveling alone were leaving them-
selves open to the castigation of being "public women." Glenna Matthews, The Rise of Public
Woman: Woman's Power and Woman's Place in the United States, 1630-1970 (New York: Oxford Uni-
versity Press, 1992). Virgimnia Bernhard et al., Southern Women: Histories and Identities (Columbia:
University of Missouri Press, 1992), 3, posit that the patriarchal South provided even further de-
terrents with the widely held belief that women should be subordinate to men, a belief that was
reinforced by southern churches, customs, and laws.
5 A collection of articles edited by Dorothy O. Helly and Susan M. Reverby, Gendered Domains:
Rethinking Public and Private in Women's History: Essays from the 7th Berkshire Conference on the History
of Women (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1992), presents varied interpretations of
whether the separate spheres framework, originally conceptualized in the 197os, remains useful
as an analytical tool for historians. I argue that because both direct references and metaphors
from women's own words indicate a desire to extend women's rights to areas beyond domestici-
ty, separate spheres was a reality that circumscribed their lives.
6 Several historians have documented a common culture that existed across the South even
though the states comprising it were immensely varied. See Anne Firor Scott, The Southern Lady.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997, periodical, 1997; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/m1/78/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.