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Annual Campbell House Museum Lecture
Sunday, March 18, 2018 from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pmFREE
Non-Parallel Lines: Virginia Campbell, Bridget, & Sally
In his essay, “Self-Reliance,” Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose lifespan is almost identical to fur trader Robert Campbell’s, echoed Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Certainly, the life of the successful St. Louis businessman has been recorded and scrutinized in books and articles. About Virginia Kyle Campbell there is one interpretive article, published locally. Viewing this imbalance of examination through a gendered lens, we might deduce that –although she was the wife of a very prominent citizen—Virginia‘s life was somehow not worth examining. In her life as a nineteenth-century woman, bound by what we now call “the cult of domesticity,” Virginia gave birth to thirteen children, only three of whom survived, and numerous miscarriages and still births. However, if we know little about Virginia, we know even less about other women who lives were intimately intertwined with hers—the Irish domestic servant, colloquially known as “Bridget,” and the enslaved females—often called “Sally”– who were part of the property that became Robert’s when they wed in 1841. Using the letters of Virginia Campbell, this essay explores the details of her life as an individual upper-class female who inhabited the binary gendered world of home and marketplace. It will also investigate the experiences of the Irish domestic female servant in the Campbell home and in St. Louis. Little is known about the enslaved people owned by the Campbell family, but there is some detail about the lives of enslaved women in St. Louis, and that is the third narrative that will be considered.
Presented by Dr. Kathleen Nigro
Director: Gender Studies Program,
University of Missouri – St. Louis
The lecture is held in the Central Branch Auditorium. Lecture is FREE and open to the public. Reservations are no required. Parking is free on Sundays.