Test your knowledge with a quiz
- During the Civil War, women entered the workforce and contributed to the war effort. In the difficult years of the Reconstruction, their role was less clear, but many felt a patriotic duty to help restore the union. Along with freed African-Americans, an influx of immigration, and the vast number of young men injured in the war, this was a period of redefining the American workforce.
- Lilly Martin Spencer’s The Home of the Red, White, and Blue uses symbolism to establish the American family as essential to the restoration of the American union. She also highlights the role of women and immigrants as part of that future.
- Although, as a woman, she was barred from attending art school, Lilly Martin Spencer blended elements of academic art with her contemporary and familiar subject. The pyramidal composition directs the viewer to the central figures and suggests stability while her use of atmospheric perspective creates a sense of depth.
This painting at the Terra Foundation for American Art’s Conversations with the Collection
Teaching resources about women in the Civil War from the Library of Congress
Explore primary sources about women and their roles in the Civil War
Consult lesson plans about women’s roles in the Reconstruction era
Lilly Martin Spencer at Google Arts and Culture
Explore a teaching guide to another Spencer painting that contains a biography and historical context for women of her time
Learn more about immigration in the years following the Civil War
Learn more about the Reconstruction period
More to think about
Although The Home of the Red, White, and Blue includes a range of figures important to the restoration of the United States following the Civil War, not all Americans are represented in the painting. Who is missing, and why do you think that might be?