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Leonard, Elizabeth D.

LEONARD, Elizabeth D.


Female. Education: University of California, Riverside, M.A., 1988, Ph.D., 1992.


Home—3 Cedar St., Waterville, ME 04901. Office—Department of History, Colby College, 5300 Mayflower Hill Dr., Waterville, ME 04901. E-mail—[email protected]


Colby College, Waterville, ME, assistant professor, 1992-98, associate professor, 1998-2003, John J. and Cornelia V. Gibson Associate Professor of History, 2003—, director of women's studies, 1998-2001, currently chair of Department of History. Editorial board member for "Civil War in the North" series, Kent State University Press, and "The North's Civil War" series, Fordham University Press. Lecturer and conference presenter at various institutions.


American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Southern Historical Association, Phi Beta Kappa.


Harriet S. and George C. Wiswell, Jr. Research Fellow, Colby College, 2000-03.


Yankee Women: Gender Battles in the Civil War, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1994.

All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor and author of introduction) Sarah Emma Edmonds, Memoirs of a Soldier, Nurse, and Spy: A Woman's Adventures in the Union Army, Northern Illinois University Press (DeKalb, IL), 1999.

Lincoln's Avengers: Justice, Revenge, and Reunion after the Civil War, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to periodicals, including Journal of American History, Historian, and American Historical Review.


Civil War historian Elizabeth D. Leonard has written important books examining the role of women on Civil War battlefields and the process through which the country began its healing following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. In Yankee Women: Gender Battles in the Civil War, Leonard examines the lives of three women who seized the opportunity presented by the war to challenge assumptions about the role of women in society and the relationship between the sexes. The volume, commented Leslie A. Schwalm in the Women's Review of Books, "proves that the focus of conventional Civil War studies—political leadership, battlefield tactics and military strategy—should not prevent scholars from also asking significant questions about how the war affected gender roles and gender relations, and the degree to which these changes may have permanently altered the American landscape." Nurse Sophronia Bucklin challenged the decisions of incompetent doctors, while Mary Walker, the only female doctor in the Union Army medical service, won the Congressional Medal of Honor for her services. Other areas in which women significantly affected the war effort included aid to widows, orphans, and dependent soldiers, especially those who had been maimed or permanently disabled. After the war, however, their accomplishments were glossed over by historians in order to bring their accomplishments "into conventional patterns," remarked a Publishers Weekly contributor. "Leonard," stated Booklist contributor William Beatty, "tells these career stories well, in detail and with liveliness."

In All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies, commented Women's Review of Books contributor Stephanie McCurry, Leonard challenges the concept of the Civil War as a "brothers' war," showing that women played roles even on the battlefield. Women were drawn into army service for a variety of reasons, and they served in a variety of capacities, including as prostitutes, nurses, cooks, and launderers. According to Library Journal contributor John Carver Edwards, "Leonard concludes that patriotism, romance, wanderlust, and greed drew women into the ranks of the Union and Confederate armies." Michael Fellman, writing in Civil War History, stated that "Leonard stresses that a steady, if unusual, new job opportunity of a sort usually denied to them interested many women, many of whom were working class and black. After the war, some were as assiduous in pursuit of pensions as were male veterans." "In a sense, Leonard's analytical restraint makes this an ideal book to assign in college courses," Elizabeth R. Varon stated in the Historian. "Students and teachers can work together to explore the context and implications of the rich data Leonard has provided."

Lincoln's Avengers: Justice, Revenge, and Reunion after the Civil War looks at the role that Lincoln's assassination played in the shaping of the ideology of Reconstruction (the reunification of the North and the South following the Civil War). Leonard concentrates her story on Justice Joseph Holt, a Kentucky man and a staunch Unionist who was responsible for organizing the trials of the accused assassins. "If Lincoln's assassination was the final shot of the Civil War," stated a writer in Kirkus Reviews, "the punishment of those responsible was a decisive step in casting the course of Reconstruction." By the time accused conspirator John Surratt was brought to trial, more than two years after the assassination, Americans had become tired of the pursuit for vengeance. A Publishers Weekly contributor stated that Leonard "writes with clarity and balance about the oft-conflicting quests for justice, revenge and peace in the troubled early years of Reconstruction."



Booklist, August, 1994, William Beatty, review of Yankee Women: Gender Battles in the Civil War, p. 2019; February 1, 2004, Jay Freeman, review of Lincoln's Avengers: Justice, Revenge, and Reunion after the Civil War, p. 945.

Civil War History, December, 1999, Michael Fellman, review of All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies, p. 352.

Historian, winter, 2001, Elizabeth R. Varon, review of All the Daring of the Soldier, p. 416.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2004, review of Lincoln's Avengers, p. 25.

Library Journal, June 15, 1999, John Carver Edwards, review of All the Daring of the Soldier, p. 90.

New Statesman, December 13, 1999, Julie Wheelwright, review of All the Daring of the Soldier, p. 56.

Publishers Weekly, July 18, 1994, review of Yankee Women, p. 231; January 19, 2004, review of Lincoln's Avengers, p. 63.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), April 11, 2004, Michael Vorenberg, review of Lincoln's Avengers, p. 2.

Women's Review of Books, December, 1994, Leslie A. Schwalm, review of Yankee Women, p. 29; September, 2000, Stephanie McCurry, review of All the Daring of the Soldier, p. 21.


Colby College Web site, (August 16, 2004), profile of Elizabeth D. Leonard.*

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