Dr. Constance Ashton Myers, widely respected researcher and author of the forthcoming three-volume set Notable Women of South Carolina, discussed the pioneering contributions of South Carolina women, many of them far ahead of their time. One such example was Dr. Mary Elizabeth Massey, History Professor at Winthrop.
Massey taught at Winthrop during the 1950s and 1960s, chairing the history department from 1960-64. She wrote a number of books about aspects of Southern life during the Civil War era, including Refugee Life in the Confederacy and Bonnet Brigades: American Women and the Civil War. In addition, Massey was the only woman to contribute to the 15-volume Impact Series on the Civil War. She served as president of the Southern Historical Society in the early 1970s and as a member of the board of advisors for the National Historical Association.
Massey herself was given to using obscure foreign or atavistic terms in her titles, which her biographers [in introductions to new releases of her books] felt compelled to explain. Her feminism is not the focus of the presentation, but it was an integral part of her self. “Feminism” in her case focused on women’s equal participation in society and professional life. If there was at all a spirit of confrontation across gender lines, she kept it subdued for the sake of her continuing career. The presentation will bring out the ways in which her feminism surfaces.
The presentation will address the historical contexts in which trailblazing professional women found themselves, as well as their far-reaching impact on society. Dr. Myers will also describe how these early trailblazers continue to benefit new generations of professional women.
Winthrop University has historically nurtured several women who were trailblazers ahead of their time. Dr. Massey’s innovative scholarship shows the power of women to affect policy, and to effect policy changes as well.
About the speaker:
Dr. Constance Ashton Myers, historian and writer, brings a vast range of teaching experience. She has taught twentieth-century history, women's history, history of American thought, oral history methodology, and Spanish. She has written extensively about women’s history and social movements. She was one of the leaders of the early oral history programs that set out in the women’s rights movement to record outstanding women, especially suffragists.
While already working on her writing of Notable Women of South Carolina, Dr. Myers was recently invited to write a chapter on Dr. Mary Elizabeth Massey for a planned encyclopedia devoted to women whose careers improved the status of women in American society.
She is also an avid art collector and has traveled extensively. Some of her expatriate stints have included Germany and Nicaragua. Dr. Myers and her husband reside in Columbia, SC.