A compelling, genre-bending page-turner, Earline’s Pink Party: The Social Rituals and Domestic Relics of a Southern Woman analyzes the life of a small-city matron in the Deep South. A combination of biography, material culture analysis, social history, and memoir, this volume offers a new way of thinking about white racism through Shores’s conclusion that Earline’s earliest childhood experiences determined her worldview.

Set against a fully drawn background of geography and culture and studded with detailed investigations of social rituals (such as women’s parties) and objects (such as books, handwritten recipes, and fabric scraps), Earline’s Pink Party tells the story of an ordinary woman, the grandmother Shores never knew. Looking for more than the details and drama of bourgeois Southern life, however, the author digs into generations of family history to understand how Earline viewed the racial terror that surrounded her during the Jim Crow years in this fairly typical southern town.

Shores seeks to narrow the gap in the scholarship of the American South, which has tended to marginalize and stereotype well-to-do white women who lived after Emancipation. Exploring her grandmother’s home and its contents within the context of Tuscaloosa society and historical events, Shores evaluates the belief that women like Earline consciously engaged in performative rituals in order to sustain the “fantastical” view of the white nobility and the contented black underclass. With its engaging narrative, illustrations, and structure, this fascinating book should interest scholars of memory, class identity, and regional history, as well as sophisticated lay readers who enjoy Southern history, foodways, genealogy, and material culture.

A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Elizabeth Findley Shores is the author of On Harper’s Trail: Roland McMillan Harper, Pioneering Botanist of the Southern Coastal Plain as well as the author or coauthor of numerous books and articles on early childhood education services. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“Shores’s smooth and at times lyrical prose, use of abundant descriptive details, rich variety of source materials, and well-paced narrative create a coherent and moving exploration of female identity, race, and southern culture in the first half of the twentieth century.”
—Jennifer Horne, author of Tell the World You’re a Wildflower and coeditor of All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality  

“The concept is original, and it fits into a framework of recent scholarly interest in racial formation, whiteness, and the relationship of individual people to material culture and the built environment. Earline’s Pink Party will be of interest to scholars exploring these areas as well as a general audience interested in the local history of the region.”
—Marilyn Motz, coeditor of Eye on the Future: Popular Culture Scholarship into the Twenty-First Century in Honor of Ray B. Browne 

344 pages / 22 B&W figures / 1 map
ISBN: 978-0-8173-1934-2 Cloth
ISBN: 978-0-8173-9068-6 Ebook