3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Women Unfit for Property: Gender, Disability, and the Legally Incompetent Female
Kim Nielsen, University of Wisconsin at Green Bay
While historians know that race diminished the guarantees of the women’s property laws passed in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, we know little about the threat of legal incompetency and guardianship that also often complicated women’s control of property. This paper examines women determined incompetent to fulfill the citizenship task of property ownership by Wisconsin county courts from the 1860s to WWII. My project uses age, race, marital status, mental, and bodily abilities to examine those defined as incompetent citizens, a category whose boundaries are often erroneously considered unchanging and unaffected by changing social structures.