Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Montana
Website URL
U.S. women's history 1800-1940, social reform, political activism, southern women, Civil War, antebellum South, childhood, adolescence, sexuality, Progressive Era, New Deal, woman suffrage
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Personal Info

About Me

Anya Jabour is Regents Professor in the History Department, Director of the Public History Program, and a past co-director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Montana.  She teaches courses in U.S. women’s history, family history, and southern history as well as writing seminars and graduate seminars. Professor Jabour was the 2001 recipient of the Helen and Winston Cox Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 2014 recipient of the Paul Lauren Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor Award.

She has authored four books, Marriage in the Early Republic, Scarlett’s Sisters, Topsy-Turvy, and Sophonisba Breckinridge,  has edited a collection on Major Problems in the History of American Families and Children and another on Family Values in the Old South, and has published numerous articles and essays. In 2013, she was named the University of Montana’s Distinguished Scholar; in 2014 she received the George M. Dennison Presidential Faculty Award for Distinguished Accomplishment. In 2016 she was named Regents Professor, the highest honor in the Montana University System.

Professor Jabour has been active in public history. In 2014, she received a grant from Humanities Montana to design an exhibit in honor of the centennial of state-level woman suffrage, “Leading the Way: Montana Woman Suffrage and the Struggle for Equal Citizenship.” In 2016 and 2017, she served as script reviewer and on-set historical advisor for the PBS Civil War miniseries, “Mercy Street.” She served as the state coordinator for an online biographical dictionary of suffrage activists, soliciting and editing more than 80 entries. She regularly writes for The Conversation and for the Washington Post’s “Made By History.”

Professor Jabour recently completed a biography of an important but previously neglected social activist. Sophonisba Breckinridge: Championing Women’s Activism in Modern America was published with the University of Illinois Press in September 2019.

Professor Jabour is currently working on a biography of penal reformer and sexuality scholar Katharine Bement Davis (1860-1935).

Recent Publications


Sophonisba Breckinridge: Championing Women’s Activism in Modern America (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019)

Topsy-Turvy:  How the Civil War Turned the World Upside Down for Southern Children(Chicago:  Ivan R. Dee, 2010)

Scarlett’s Sisters:  Young Women in the Old South(Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 2007; paperback, 2009)

Marriage in the Early Republic:  Elizabeth and William Wirt and the Companionate Ideal  (Baltimore and London:  The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998)

Edited Volumes:

Family Values in the Old South, coedited with Craig Thompson Friend (Gainesville:  University Press of Florida, 2010)

Major Problems in the History of American Families and Children (Boston and New York:  Houghton Mifflin, 2005)

Articles and Essays:

“Separatism and Equality: Women at the University of Chicago, 1895-1925,” Chicago History, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Fall 2020), 30-44.

“’A nurse’s duty’: Mary Curry Desha Breckinridge and the Feminine Professional Ethic of Self-Sacrifice in Progressive-Era America and World War One France,” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol. 117, Nos. 3-4 (Autumn 2019), 513-553.

“Sophonisba Breckinridge (1866-1948): Homegrown Heroine,” in Kentucky Women: Their Lives and Times, ed. By Melissa A. McEuen and Thomas H. Appleton, Jr. (University of Georgia Press, 2015), 140-167

“Duty and Destiny: A Progressive Reformer’s Coming of Age in the Gilded Age,” in James Marten, ed., Children and Youth during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era(New York University Press, 2014), 230-251

“Prostitution Politics and Feminist Activism in Modern America: Sophonisba Breckinridge and the Morals Court in Prohibition-Era Chicago,” Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Fall 2013), 143-166.

“Relationship and Leadership:  Sophonisba Breckinridge and Women in Social Work,” Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work,Vol. 27, No. 1 (February 2012), 20-34.

“’Days of lightly-won and lightly-held hearts’: Courtship and Coquetry in the Southern Confederacy,” in Stephen Berry, ed., Weirding the War: Stories from the Civil War’s Ragged Edges(Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 2011), 95-121.

“Female Families:  Same-Sex Love in the Victorian South,” in Family Values in the Old South, eds. Craig Thompson Friend and Anya Jabour  (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010), 86-108.

“Southern Ladies and She-Rebels; or, Femininity in the Foxhole:  Changing Definitions of Womanhood in the Confederate South,” in Manners and Southern History, edited by Ted Ownby (Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi, 2007), 1-19.

“‘College Girls’:  Community and Identity in the Antebellum South,” in John Salmond and Bruce Clayton, eds., “Lives Full of Struggle and Triumph”:  Southern Women, Their Institutions and Their Communities(University Press of Florida, 2003), 74-92

“Resisting the Altar:  A Case Study of Conversion and Courtship in the Antebellum South,” Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. 96 (Spring 2001), 28-51

“Laura Wirt Randall:  A Woman’s Life, 1803-1833,” in Michael A. Morrison, ed., The Human Tradition in Antebellum America  (Scholarly Resources, 2000), 165-80

“‘Quite a Woman of Business’: Elizabeth Washington Gamble Wirt, 1784-1857,” Virginia Cavalcade, XLIX (Spring 2000), 65-75

“Male Friendship and Masculinity in the Early National South:  William Wirt and His Friends,” Journal of the Early Republic, XX (Spring 2000), 83-111

“Albums of Affection:  Female Friendship and Coming of Age in Antebellum Virginia,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, CVII (Spring 1999), 125-58

“Masculinity and Adolescence in Antebellum America:  Robert Wirt at West Point, 1820-1821,” Journal of Family History, XXIII (October 1998), 393-416

“‘The Language of Love’:  The Letters of Elizabeth and William Wirt, 1802-1834,” in Laura McCall and Donald Yacovone, eds., A Shared Experience:  Men, Women, and the History of Gender(New York University Press, 1998), 119-40

“Between Mistress and Slave: Elizabeth Wirt’s White Housekeepers, 1808-1825,” in Janet Coryell, Martha Swain, Sandra Treadway, and Elizabeth Turner, eds., Beyond Image and ConventionsExplorations in Southern Women’s History(University of Missouri Press, 1998), 28-52

“‘Grown Girls, Highly Cultivated’: Female Education in an Antebellum Southern Family,” Journal of Southern History , LXIV (February 1998), 23-64

“‘It will never do for me to be married’:  The Life of Laura Wirt Randall, 1803-1833,” Journal of the Early Republic, XVII (Summer 1997), 193-236

“‘The Privations & Hardships of a New Country’:  Southern Women and Southern Hospitality on the Florida Frontier,” Florida Historical Quarterly, LXXV (Winter 1997), 259-75

“‘No Fetters But Such as Love Shall Forge’:  Elizabeth and William Wirt and Marriage in the Early Republic,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, CIV (Spring 1996), 211-50.

Short Articles, Blog Posts, Op-Eds:

“Claims of protecting sex workers have long been used to punish them,” Washington Post, August 12, 2021,

“An ‘Adamless Eden for Female Offenders’?: Katharine Bement Davis and the Carceral State in Progressive-Era New York,” SHGAPE, July 13, 2021,

“Mothers have long used their identities to push for social change,” Washington Post, May 9, 2021,

“It’s Up to the Women’: Eleanor Roosevelt, Women’s Activism, and Human Rights,” January 2021, National Park Service,

“Referring to female PhDs as ‘Dr.’ promoted equal treatment and values women’s work,” Washington Post, December 15, 2020,

“Sophonisba Breckinridge, the Suffrage Movement, and Social Justice,” SSA Magazine, August 18, 2020,

“The Depression-era lessons that can solve today’s eviction crisis,” Washington Post, Sept. 4, 2020,

“As our meat, poultry supply dwindles, we should remember why,” Washington Post, April 21, 2020,

“Immigrant workers have borne the brunt of covid-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants: How dire conditions in meatpacking inspired broad worker and immigrant advocacy in the early 20th century,” Washington Post, May 22, 2020,

“When Lesbians Led the Women’s Suffrage Movement,” The Conversation, January 24, 2020,

“Striving for Social Justice: Jane Addams and Sophonisba Breckinridge,” Jane Addams Papers Project blog, September 23, 2019,

“Same-Sex Couples Have Been in American Politics Way Longer than the Buttigiegs Have Been Married,” The Conversation, May 17, 2019,

“‘Self-Sacrificing Service: The Life and Death of a Red Cross Nurse in France,” Nursing Clio, November 8, 2018,

“100 Years of the ‘Gender Gap’ in American Politics,” The Conversation, November 24, 2016(reprinted in numerous publications, including Newsweek; more than 16,000 readers),

“Why Women’s Peace Activism in World War One Matters Now,” The Conversation, April 2, 2017

“’Freedom of Matrimony’: Celebrating Love in an Era of Emancipation,” PBS, March 6, 2017,

“Making a Change: Educating Former Slaves,” PBS, February 20, 2017,

“’I Wanted To Do My Part’: Women as Soldiers in Civil War America,” PBS, February 13, 2017,

“’The Freedmen’s Cause’: African American Abolitionists,” PBS, February 6, 2017,

“Southern Women as Secret Agents,” PBS, January 30, 2017,

“Is Anybody Looking? Runaway Slaves and the Refugee Crisis in Civil War America,” PBS, January 23, 2017,

“Women’s Work and Sex Work in Nineteenth-Century America,” February 22, 2016,

“Mourning in the Civil War Era,” February 15, 2016,

“Military Service and Manhood in the Civil War Era,” February 8, 2016,

“For Freedom and Family,” February 1, 2016,

“Corsets, Crinolines, and the Civil War: The Politics of Civil War Fashions,” January 17, 2016,

“Feminism Personified: Judy Smith and the Women’s Movement,” March 6, 2014,

Media Coverage
Featured in NYT, Huffington Post, Washington Post, PBS
Country Focus
American South; Chicago; New York
Expertise by Geography
Spain, United States
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
American Civil War, Children & Youth, Family, Gender, Higher Ed, Sexuality, Women