Southern Belle History
The Name Southern Bell
"Southern Belle" (from the French belle meaning 'beautiful') is a a label attached to woman of the American Old South's antebellum upper class. (See the picture below.)
"Antebellum" is Latin (ante, "before," and bellum, "war") and means "before war". In the United States “antebellum” refers to the period just before the United Sates Civil War wear as the period immediately following the Civil War is called the Reconstruction era.
Who They Were
Southern belles typified the female members of upper-class, landowning gentry in the southern part of the United States. A Southern Belle epitomized Southern hospitality, cultivation of beauty and a flirtatious yet chaste demeanor. They are particularly noted for their elaborate gowns and accessories. The term still applies as a general moniker to describe girls in the South today, thanks to a number of films with strong representations of tough, but wholly feminine Southern ladies who still exist today.
Belles of Note
During the period, Kentuckian Sallie Ward of Louisville was the most noted southern belle in the South, and her portrait, which hangs in the Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, is often called "The Southern Belle."
The archetype continues to have a powerful inspirational draw for many people, and books like We're Just Like You, Only Prettier, The Southern Belle Primer, and The Southern Belle Handbook are plentiful.
Gone With The Wind
Perhaps the the most will known fictional southern belle was Scarlett O'Hara. Played by Vivien Leigh in the 1939 movie "Gone With The Wind". She was a spoiled, high-tempered, and strong-willed young women. The movie was an adaptation of Margaret Mitchell's 1936 best seller by the same name.
Read Doll Talk for more information about my Southern Bell dolls.