University of Nebraska Press
Wars oftentimes cause individuals to challenge themselves to reach beyond traditional expectations. In Paula Tarnapol Whitacre‘s biography of Julia Wilbur, Wilbur breaks through the traditional expectation of female dependency for a mid-nineteenth century unmarried, white, middle-class woman like herself. Instead, she becomes an independent, middle-class working woman, and social reformer. Based upon several decades of diaries and various correspondence, Whitacre reconstructs Wilbur’s life story dividing it into three sections that outline her life and work before, during, and after the Civil War. Two locations shape Wilbur’s life in significant ways: Rochester, New York, where she taught school, learned about social reform, and became an abolitionist; and Alexandria, Virginia, where she was sent by the Rochester Ladies Anti-slavery Sewing Society in 1862 to assist refugee slaves. Unmarried, middle-aged, and far away from family, Julia developed confidence and found new purpose in Alexandria as she devoted herself to providing care and supplies for refugee slaves who were without adequate housing, clothing, and food.
Sundberg, Sara Brooks
"A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time: Julia Wilbur’s Struggle for Purpose,"
Civil War Book Review: Vol. 21
Available at: https://repository.lsu.edu/cwbr/vol21/iss1/18