Power behind the throne
The Governor’s Mansion is honoring Women’s History Month this March with their special “Power Behind the Throne: Women and the Old Governor’s Mansion Tour.”
“The mansion is usually very male-heavy, but this tour highlights the women,” said Kiersten Veldkamp, curator of Education and Public Engagement and tour guide. “This tour is very women-centric, so instead of talking about the governors, we talk about their wives and other women living in the house.”
The tour was originally created in the spring of 2012, but it was revised and refinished in September of 2017.
This tour brings people along to learn about the women, black and white, of the Mansion, but it also includes the bigger picture of the time period.
“We discuss what it was like to be a woman in the 19th century,” Veldkamp said. “We talk about fashion, etiquette, their role as a woman, whether they were permitted to do politics or not. It’s all about the women.”
The tour creates a picture of what it was like to be a woman during the Victorian Age living in the Antebellum South. Using gardens, artifacts and structures the Mansion provides a historical representation of the house from during the time it housed Georgia’s governors, which was between 1839 and 1868.
White women of the time were responsible for the efficiency of the household and were expected to cater to the needs of their husbands.
This tour also describes how the institution of slavery shaped the lives of women in the Antebellum South. The greatest role that white women played during the 19th century was to make sure that they motivated and managed the household servants.
“It is important to learn about women’s history because it shows the struggles that women have gone through to get women to where they are today, with a voice and freedom,” said sophomore Emily Root, a marketing major.
Led by Veldkamp, tourists go on a journey to discover the domesticity and maternity that were largely enforced through religion in the South.
The tour is based upon extensive research of state of Georgia records, which provided treasury reports, personal letters and diaries from the governors and their families.
“Knowing the history of women is essential because women are such a big part of society and influential in everyone’s life,” said junior Warner Livingston, a business management major.
This women’s history tour will focus mainly on the parlor, salon, master bedroom, nursery, linen closet, workroom and warming kitchen. These are the places that the women spent the majority of their time, so this gives the best image of what it was like to be a woman living in the Mansion.
There are a variety of tours offered at the Governor’s Mansion. This specific tour typically lasts between one hour and one hour and 15 minutes.
This is a specialty tour that is offered year round through appointments. It will be offered at a special price on Thursday, March 8 (International Women’s Day) and Wednesday, March 28. On these dates, the tour will be $8 for adults and seniors and $4 for students.
All tours at the Governor’s Mansion are always free to GC faculty, staff and students.