One of my big questions in American Athena is: What happens when you have a community of educated females? Do women agitate for and enjoy more social, political, and economic rights? Does it affect how they shape their institutions and move in public spaces?
I stumbled across this ad from the Western Observer, a Jacksonville newspaper, dated April 1831. It throws a wrench into everything we think we know about the frontier. It is the literal elephant in the room that brings together various threads questioning standard historical narratives that privilege patriarchy, whiteness, and Americans’ obsession with manifest destiny.
The cover photo for Americanathena.com comes from one of Jacksonville’s key landmarks, a memorial to Morgan County residents who served in the Civil War. Dedicated in 1920, the monument provides some clues about how Jacksonville residents of the early twentieth century perceived men’s and women’s civic responsibilities.