Journal of a Georgia Woman, 1870-1872
Eliza Frances “Fanny” Andrews (1840–1931) was born into southern aristocracy in Washington, Georgia. The acclaimed author of Journal of a Georgia Girl: 1864–1865, she was an exceptional woman who went on to become a journalist, writer, teacher, and world-renowned botanist. In 1870, as Andrews was working on her first novel, she embarked on a visit to wealthy “Yankee kin” in Newark, New Jersey. The trip had a profound effect on her life, as she was astonished by the contrasts between North and South. This previously unpublished segment of Andrews’s writings begins with her New Jersey sojourn and ends with her mother’s death in 1872. It is remarkable for the light it sheds on the social and economic transformations of the Reconstruction era, particularly as they were perceived and experienced by a southern woman.
Andrews was an intelligent, sharp-witted, and skilled observer, and these qualities shine through her engaging memoir. She records her reactions to Newark society and the economic base on which it stood, comparing southern gentility and agriculture to northern brusqueness and industry. Moreover, while the diary reveals clearly the social and cultural attitudes of aristocratic southerners of the period, it also foreshadows the beginning of change as, for example, a visit to a factory opens Andrews’s eyes to the advantages of the new economy. She also recounts her frustrations with the role of southern women, exalted on the one hand but severely restricted on the other. These stark contrasts and Andrews’s own mixed feelings give the diary much of its power.
Also included in this volume are six of Andrews’s magazine and newspaper articles that appeared in the national press around the time she was keeping this journal. Taken together, her private and public writings from this period show a maturing nineteenth-century woman confronting a culture turned upside down in the new world of the Reconstruction-era South.
Andrews’s memoir, with accompanying introduction and commentary by Kit Rushing, will appeal to general readers with an interest in the nineteenth-century South as well as to historians of women, the Civil War era, and nineteenth-century America.
The Editor: S. Kittrell Rushing is head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.