In Memoriam: Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

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In Memoriam: Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

by John Shelton Reed
Southern Cultures, Vol. 13, No. 2: Photography

"Our publication is better for her suggestions, and it would be better still if we had been up to the job of taking more of them."

Among Elizabeth Fox-Genovese’s many accomplishments was her record as a scholar of the antebellum South, one whose books should be know to most readers of this quarterly. Fruits of Merchant Capital: Slavery and Bourgeois Property in the Rise and Expansion of Capitalism (1983), written with her husband Eugene Genovese, was followed by Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South (1988), which cemented her reputation as a student of antebellum southern women. In 2005 she and Gene published their magisterial study The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders’ Worldview.

We were pleased to have Betsey as a member of the Southern Cultures editorial board from the beginning. It will not surprise anyone who knew her to hear that she was not merely an eminent ornament for our masthead; although she was that, to be sure, she also participated actively in board meetings, expressed her strong and reasoned opinions, and didn’t hesitate to let us know when we were not living up to our potential. Our publication is better for her suggestions, and it would be better still if we had been up to the job of taking more of them.

Betsey was a woman of great personal charm, with style, an elegant mind, and the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. She relished debate, and bravely followed her evidence and her convictions where they led her. She bore the infirmity of her last years with courage and grace. She died on January 2.