Women & Slavery and Women & Abolition


“Despite their common bondage, men and women did not experience slavery the same way.  Slave women experienced sexual exploitation, childbearing, motherhood, and the slaveholder’s sexism.  Slave women were exploited for their reproductive, as well as, productive capacities.”

“The organization of female antislavery societies reflected the conventional organizational structure present in social reform organizations, in which men formed the leadership and headed the state and national societies, while women were expected to form separate, auxiliary societies.  The function of female antislavery societies was similar to that of other female reform organizations of the period, namely, to raise money to support the movement’s lecturers and its official newspapers…..Unlike other reform movements of the time, including temperance and anti-prostitution groups, in which such questions rarely arose.  By the mid-1830’s, abolitionist men and women furiously debated the “proper” role of women in public reform movements….Some women abolitionists pushed the boundaries of acceptable behavior in public reform by stepping into male domains and expanding discussions about “equality” in the movement.  In so doing, this generation of women activists forged a collective legacy for subsequent movements for sexual and racial equality in U.S. society.  More importantly, their participation in abolition and women’s rights also foretold the continuing struggle over racism, classism, and sexism; both within the movements themselves and in society, at large.”

Source: The Reader’s Guide to Women’s History

“So I start the book by talking about how white slave-holding parents trained their daughters how to be slave owners. They gave them lessons in slave discipline and slave management. Some even allowed their daughters to mete out physical punishments.

Slave-holding parents and slave-holding family members gave girls enslaved people as gifts — for Christmas sometimes, when they turned 16 or when they turned 21.There are even accounts of slave-holding parents and family members giving white female infants enslaved people as their own. There is one particular instance of a case, in a court record, where a woman talks about how her grandfather gave her an enslaved person as her own when she was 9 months old.”

Source: Stephanie Jones-Rogers in VOX interview about her book, “They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South”

Women and Abolitionism | The Abolition Seminar

History of slavery: white women were not passive bystanders - Vox

Abolitionist Movement — History of U.S. Woman's Suffrage (crusadeforthevote.org)

How Women Abolitionists Fought Enslavement (thoughtco.com)

Female Slave Owners - Atlantic History - Oxford Bibliographies