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Cashin, Joan E.

Cashin, Joan E.


Education: American University, B.A., 1977; Harvard University, M.A., 1980, Ph.D., 1986.


Office—Department of History, Ohio State University, 106 Dulles Hall, 230 W. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210. E-mail—[email protected]


Historian, educator, writer, and editor. Ohio State University, Columbus, professor of history. Also served on three National Endowment for the Humanities panels and various prize committees, including the Beveridge-Dunning Prize for the American Historical Association, the Lerner-Scott Dissertation Prize for the Organization of American Historians, the Lincoln Prize for Gettysburg College, and the St. George Tucker Prize for the St. George Tucker Society.


A Family Venture: Men and Women on the Southern Frontier, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1991.

(Author of introduction) Clotel, or, The President's Daughter, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1996.

(Editor) Our Common Affairs: Texts from Women in the Old South, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1996.

(Editor and contributor) The War Was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2002.

First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Contributor to A Woman's War: Southern Women, Civil War, and the Confederate Legacy, edited by Edward D.C. Campbell, Jr., and Kym S. Rice, Museum of the Confederacy (Richmond, VA), 1996; contributor to various periodicals. Has served on the editorial boards of professional journals.


Joan E. Cashin is a historian who specializes in the social history of the United States. Her first book, A Family Venture: Men and Women on the Southern Frontier, looks at pioneer families with a focus on women and the physical ordeals they faced as they migrated to the American Southwestern frontier. As she follows more than one hundred pioneering families, the author contrasts their new life with their former lives on the Eastern seaboard. She also delineates how the pioneering movement resulted in a revolutionary role for woman and the family. Writing in the Mississippi Quarterly, Kenneth J. Winkle noted: "A Family Venture is a notable contribution to the history of women, families, and the frontier in the antebellum South and provides a model for future studies of family life in other frontier regions."

As editor of The War Was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War, Cashin presents fifteen essays that focus on civilian life during the Civil War. The topics range from northern women missionaries to Southern slaves' understanding of the war's impact. The author's contribution to the volume is titled "Deserters, Civilians, and Draft Resistance in the North." "This collection will be of great interest to scholars for its breadth of coverage as well as for the notable strength of the essays' research, writing, and interpretation," wrote Margaret M. Storey in the Journal of Southern History. Library Journal contributor Elizabeth Morris wrote: "The original archival research lends itself to a fresh and intriguing text."

Cashin also served as editor of Our Common Affairs: Texts from Women in the Old South. The book presents the writings from diaries and other sources of women commenting on their lives, their families, and society. "Cashin is to be applauded for her choice of texts," wrote Sharon Halevi on the H-Net Web site. "Ranging from the humorous to the poignant, from the dreary to the uplifting, the collection traces the contours of white women's culture."

In First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War, the author tells the story of the wife of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. The biography goes from Davis's childhood in Mississippi through to her widowhood and subsequent career writing for newspapers in New York. "The letters quoted here sparkle with wit," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. Jonathan Yardley, writing in the Washington Post, commented: "Cashin's book leaves no doubt that she was in fact a considerably more interesting person than her husband, and a better one as well." Other reviewers praised the overall biography for its scholarly yet understandable text. For example, Tessa L.H. Minchew, writing in the Library Journal, noted that "the author hews to academic standards while remaining accessible to the average reader." Brad Hooper wrote in Booklist that First Lady of the Confederacy is "sympathetic but not uncritical."

Cashin told CA: "I became a professional historian because I love the subject matter of American history. I continue to be amazed by the rich, fascinating material that is buried in the archives, waiting for the historian. The research for a book is often highly enjoyable. The writing is more difficult, with good days and bad days, but the whole process is gratifying. I nourish the hope that my books reach members of the reading public who love history, as well as other research scholars."



Booklist, July 1, 2006, Brad Hooper, review of First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War, p. 23.

Journal of Southern History, February 1, 2004, Margaret M. Storey, review of The War Was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War, p. 155.

Library Journal, November 1, 2002, Elizabeth Morris, review of The War Was You and Me, p. 108; July 1, 2006, Tessa L.H. Minchew, review of First Lady of the Confederacy, p. 87.

Mississippi Quarterly, spring, 1993, Kenneth J. Winkle, review of A Family Venture: Men and Women on the Southern Frontier.

Publishers Weekly, May 22, 2006, review of First Lady of the Confederacy, p. 40.

Washington Post, September 3, 2006, Jonathan Yardley, review of First Lady of the Confederacy, p. BW02.


H-Net: Humanities and Social Services Online, (June 12, 2007), Sharon Halevi, review of Our Common Affairs.

Ohio State University Department of History Web site, (June 12, 2007), faculty profile of author.

Smoky Mountain News, (June 12, 2007), Jeff Minick, review of First Lady of the Confederacy.

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