As the war progressed, it became eminently clear that there would be no quick end to southern secession. The war machine generated overwhelming demand for mass production of supplies and provisions, creating jobs in factories, arsenals, sewing rooms, and offices. Industrial
Social and domestic challenges encountered by those entrusted with the maintenance of northern industry, generated enormous volunteer involvement and community support, stimulating the expansion of women's roles in society and in the industrial world. The concept of war as an exclusively masculine province began to diminish as the efforts and skills of women became more apparent publicly, and relied upon politically. Issues of gender distinct responsibility were challenged by wartime demands, and the ideology of the domestic sphere shifted to incorporate active national support. The government relied heavily on the provisions supplied by home-work, and women were adamant that the resources they provided be accounted for and not disseminated for profit or waste. (3)
The cohesion of local resources and fundraising efforts by women created unified community spirit. The Ladies' Societies of Bridgeport transformed operation during the war years into various aid societies to administer to the physical and medical needs of the Union forces. The Ladies' Relief Society was formed on August 1, 1861, acting as
The League of Loyal Women of Bridgeport was formed in 1863 to encourage and foster loyalty for the Union cause. Many households focused on the patriotism that the war evoked, displaying flags, cockades, engravings and sculpture with idealized themes, and many exchanges regarding the war and community involvement in war work, were regularly articulated. As the war progressed, the tasks of these societies became increasingly more significant and even relied upon by the Union Quartermaster. The concepts of community efforts as sentimental and emotionally rendered were transformed to definitive and valid national war-relief support. "Through homemade products, military rallies, village parades, flag raisings, and fairs, women devised a visible national identity" (4) and their work was praised by prominent period figureheads including P. T. Barnum, Frederick Law Olmsted, and even President Abraham Lincoln.
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Visit the Virtual Exhibits for objects from the Barnum Museum's collection.
The Barnum Museum
820 Main Street
Hours: 11-3 Thur & Fri
The People's United Bank Gallery, located at the back of the building is open and free to the public to view the restoration and conservation process. The Barnum Museum's historic building remains closed to the public following tornado damage suffered on June 24, 2010.
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