8 December 2008
Jiles’ Depictions of the Treatment of Southern Families in the Novel Enemy Women
Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later (Yale University).
Scholars use primary source materials such as letters and diaries to write books, which are in turn secondary sources. However, books can also be a rich source of primary source material. A primary source like a journal entry, at best, only reflects one person's take on events, which may or may not be truthful, accurate, or complete. Primary sources, whether accurate or not, offer new input into historical questions and most modern history revolves around heavy use of archives and special collections for the purpose of finding useful primary sources. A work on history is not likely to be taken seriously as scholarship if it only cites secondary sources, as it does not indicate that original research has been done (Yahoo Answers).
In this paper, I will focus on Jiles’ use of journal entries and Union correspondence to describe the manipulation of Southern family loyalties by using women and children as leverage against Confederate soldiers and inhumane treatment of family members. At the opening of every chapter in her book Enemy Women, Jiles uses several primary sources such as journal entries written by soldiers in prison camps, letters and other correspondence written either by citizens to loved ones or official declarations sent through military mail between officers and their commanders and quotes or entries from literature either at the time the events occurred or later...