Review of Charity Signs for Herself by Carol Lemley Montgomery

Carol Montgomery, who died on September 15 at the age of 79, lived a fascinating life.

As an Army wife, she traveled the world, learned to fly, observed sea turtle nests at Fort Fisher, and served as a volunteer and instructor at national parks and wildlife refuges across the United States.

She also earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of California Irvine.

Carol Lemley Montgomery of Kure Beach, who died in 2022, is the author of "Charitable Mark for Oneself: Gender and the Retreat of Black Women from Field Labor, Alabama 1865-1876."

Now her husband, former Kure Beach Mayor Mac Montgomery, has published her 1991 doctoral thesis entitled “Charity Signs for Herself.” The volume is available at, and at local libraries.

Montgomery’s academic subtitle, “Gender and Withdrawal of Black Women from Field Labor, Alabama, 1865-1876,” may intimidate some readers. Nevertheless, she discusses topics that turn out to be surprisingly topical.

And the story isn’t just limited to Alabama. It has its roots in the Somerset Place Plantation near Edenton, NC. Celebrated in Dorothy Spruill Redford’s Somerset Homecoming, the plantation is now a State Historic Site that pioneered the interpretation of history from the slaves’ perspective.