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Austin Peay State University’s Minoa Uffelman heading up virtual series on progressive Tennessee women

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – In 2013, Dr. Minoa Uffelman, Austin Peay State University (APSU) professor of history, contributed an essay to a groundbreaking new book, “Tennessee Women in the Progressive Era: Toward the Public Sphere in the New South.” The book, a collection of scholarly works examining women’s reform efforts in Tennessee from 1890-1930, highlighted the historic but often overlooked work of women in this state. 

This fall, Uffelman is reuniting with her collaborators on the book for a special virtual series, Tennessee 101: Tennessee Women in the Progressive Era, Part 1. She’s coordinating the series for the Tennessee Historical Society (THS), with new recorded talks appearing on the society’s website every week from October 19th-November 16th. Uffelman will host a second, six-week series of virtual talks for THS, beginning January 6th.

“I am excited that the Tennessee Historical Society is featuring eleven weeks to Tennessee Women in the Progressive Era,” Uffelman said.

Austin Peay State University professor of history Dr. Minoa Uffelman holds the Diary of Serepta Jordan. (APSU)
Austin Peay State University professor of history Dr. Minoa Uffelman holds the Diary of Serepta Jordan. (APSU)

“Women were active as reformers throughout the state in both urban and rural areas. This series explores the numerous ways women worked to change society including suffrage, education and temperance,” stated Uffelman.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the THS began hosting virtual talks instead of in-person events. These talks proved to be wildly popular, with hundreds of viewers watching them from around the world. Uffelman hopes this audience will tune in again to learn about some of Tennessee’s overlooked female history makers.

“Scholars will share their knowledge, and their talks represent an amazing amount of original research,” Uffelman said.

The first series of virtual talks includes:

  • October 19th, “Women’s Progressivism,” by Mary Evins, and “‘Agitate, Educate, Organize’: The Tennessee WCTU and the Power of Feminist Leadership,” by Carol Bucy;
  • October 26th, “Canning Clubs and the Uplift of Rural Society,” by Uffelman, and “Philanthropy as Civic Agency in West Tennessee, 190-1930,” by Alice-Catherine Carls;
  • November 2nd, “Reparations,” by Mary Frances Berry, and “Southern White Women and the Antilynching Movement: Confronting the ‘Fury of the Mob,’” by Paula Hinton;
  • November 9th, “‘Strength in Union’: Lizzie Crozier French and the Women’s Club Movement of East Tennessee,” by Aaron Astor, and “The Middle Ground of Elite Women’s Study Clubs of Northwest Tennessee,” by Renee LaFleur;
  • November 16th, “African American College Women,” by Crystal de Gregory, and “Lady Other: Gendered Communities and College Sports,” by Mary Ellen Pethel.

“I will talk about the development of Tomato Clubs and Canning Clubs which led to important rural reform,” Uffelman said. “Home Demonstration Agents targeted girls to teach them this new cutting-edge technology of canning.”

“It was a comprehensive approach to teach gardening, canning, accounting, eventually other skills were added such as sewing and baking. Canning provided for nutritious meals in the winter. Girls had competitions with a chance to win prizes. They had rallies and parades,” stated Uffelman.

Uffelman and Mary Evins, Middle Tennessee State University professor of history, are now working on a second volume of essays on progressive Tennessee women. That book, “Constructing Citizenship: Education, Associations, Service, Suffrage – Tennessee Public Women in the Progressive Era,” will come out next year, and the essays will form the basis of the second THS virtual series next spring.

Information on that second series will be released in December.

For more information, visit www.tennesseehistory.org/.


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