We Have Raised All of You


Winner of the SAWH Julia Cherry Spruill Prize

White, black, and Native American women in the early South often viewed motherhood as a composite of roles, ranging from teacher and nurse to farmer and politician. Within a multicultural landscape, mothers drew advice and consolation from female networks, broader intellectual currents, and an understanding of their own multifaceted identities to devise their own standards for child rearing. In this way, by constructing, interpreting, and defending their roles as parents, women in the South maintained a certain degree of control over their own and their children’s lives. Focusing on Virginia and the Carolinas from 1750 to 1835, Katy Simpson Smith’s study examines these maternal practices to reveal the ways in which diverse groups of women struggled to create empowered identities in the early South.

“Smith has made a valuable contribution to gender and southern studies by effectively complicating and humanizing the concept of motherhood. . . . Her text will join the ranks of the few others that tackle this universal and timeless subject.”

— Journal of American History

“Smith is . . . using mothering practices as a lens through which to highlight a more nuanced reading of the realities of women’s significant but limited power. This wide-ranging book is a valuable addition to both southern and women’s history.”

— North Carolina Historical Review

“Bringing together the experiences of Indian, white, and black mothers into one book certainly makes this work historiographically important but so, too, does the more complex and more complete picture of motherhood in the early South that Smith offers. . . . That one book can not only successfully bring together the multiracial experiences of women but also prove how motherhood ‘offers the key to understanding women as instigators of change’ in this era makes We Have Raised All of You an essential contribution to the field.”

— Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

“[Smith’s] aim is ‘to move the conversation from whether or not women had power to something more complex: what power meant, what forms it took, how it was practiced, when it was manipulated or contested, and how it structured women’s lives’ (p. 269). This is no easy task. It requires a broader and deeper cultural exploration of women’s inner lives, their values, and their beliefs. Smith’s book is a promising first step in achieving that end.”

— American Historical Review