© 2006

Attitudes toward Sex in Antebellum America

A Brief History with Documents

  • Authors

Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Introduction: Voices in the Sexual Conversation in Antebellum America

  3. The Documents

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 33-33
    2. Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz
      Pages 35-123
    3. Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz
      Pages 124-156
    4. Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz
      Pages 157-159
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 166-181

About this book


The public discussion of sexuality in America first came about in the 1820s. Predictably, Americans diverged considerably on how to approach the controversial topic. Folk wisdom, current scientific beliefs, and the teachings of evangelical Christianity all shaped the antebellum conversation about the moral, social and physical implications of sex. In her introduction, Professor Horowitz takes American sexual history beyond the boundaries of the twentieth century and elucidates the complex issues surrounding nineteenth-century debates and dialogue. Helpful headnotes contextualize this colorful selection of hard-to-find documents, which includes medical articles, religious pamphlets, advertisements and propaganda, and popular literature. Contemporary illustrations, a chronology, and a bibliography foster students understanding of antebellum sexual knowledge.

About the authors

Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz is Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman Professor in American Studies at Smith College.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Attitudes toward Sex in Antebellum America
  • Book Subtitle A Brief History with Documents
  • Authors NA NA
  • Series Title The Bedford Series in History and Culture
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc. 2006
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, New York
  • eBook Packages Palgrave History Collection History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-4039-7155-5
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-73610-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-05413-5
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVII, 181
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Social History
    Gender, Sexuality and Law
    Reproductive Medicine
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


"Rewriting Sex accomplishes two rarely-seen objectives in a history book. First, Horowitz takes old, well-traversed material and reformulates it into a startling and provocative new narrative . . .Second, and more impressively, she accomplishes this with an economy of words written in clear, crisp and easy-to-follow prose." - Timothy J. Gilfoyle, Loyola University Chicago

"Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz s volume is so welcome; it combines an unparalleled assortment of primary sources with a clear but sophisticated analysis of the social and cultural meanings of sex and sexual knowledge in antebellum era." - Amy Greenberg, Pennsylvania State University