Prison of Women

Testimonies of War and Resistance in Spain, 1939-1975

By Tomasa Cuevas
Edited and translated by Mary E. Giles

Subjects: Women's Studies
Paperback : 9780791438589, 247 pages, July 1998
Hardcover : 9780791438572, 247 pages, July 1998

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Table of contents

by Mary E. Giles

PART 1 War and Prison

Chapter 1 Growing Up in Prewar Spain

Chapter 2 Coming of Age in Politics and War

Chapter 3 Prison Life Begins: Guadalajara 1939

Chapter 4 Sisters Condemned to Death: Blasa Rojo at Guadalajara

Chapter 5 Childbirth in Prison: Nieves Waldemer Santisteban at Guadalajara

Chapter 6 My Prison Odyssey: Durango 1939–1940

Chapter 7 The Dynamiter: Rosario Sánchez Mora at Durango

Chapter 8 Into the Storm: Santander 1940–1942

Chapter 9 A Minor in Prison: María del Carmen Cuesta at Santander

Chapter 10 The Cemetery of the Living: Amorebieta 1942–1943

Chapter 11 The Socialist: Pilar Pascual Martínez at Amorebieta

Chapter 12 Solidarity and Compassion: Ventas and Segovia 1943–1944

Chapter 13 Reflections on Prison Life for Women: Josefina Amalia Villa at Ventas and Segovia

Chapter 14 The Costs of Sacrifice: Antonia García at Ventas and Segovia

PART 2 Resistance and Prison

Chapter 15 A Stranger in a Strange City 1944–1945

Chapter 16 The Exile of Prison: Les Corts 1945–1946

Chapter 17 From Prison to Clandestine Life Again 1946

Chapter 18 Escape: Victoria Pujolar at Les Corts

Chapter 19 Through the Gate to Freedom: Adelaida Abarca at Les Corts

Chapter 20 Crossing the Border: Angelita Ramis at Les Corts

Chapter 21 The Guerrilla: Esperanza Martínez

Chapter 22 The Burden and Strength of Clandestinity 1946–1948

Chapter 23 The Long Years 1948–1976

by Mary E. Giles



A translation of women's testimonies about their experiences in the prisons of Spain following the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 collected by Tomasa Cuevas, herself a surviving victim of the Francoist prison system.


Prison of Women presents oral testimonies of women incarcerated following the Spanish Civil War. The primary voice in the collection, Tomasa Cuevas, spent many years in prisons throughout Spain as a political prisoner. After the death of Franco in 1975, Cuevas began to collect oral testimonies from women she had known in prison as she traveled throughout Spain recording their stories. These, along with hers, eventually were published in three volumes in Spain. Prison of Women is a collaboration between Tomasa Cuevas and Mary E. Giles, translator and editor, who wrote the introduction and afterword, and provided contextual information in notes and a glossary. The testimonies offer a compelling record of the years leading up to the Spanish Civil War, the aftermath of that horrendous struggle, and a revealing testament to the strength of the human spirit.

Tomasa Cuevas is a former prisoner of war living in Spain. Mary E. Giles is Professor of Humanities at California State University. She has published several other books, including The Book of Prayer of Sor María of Santo Domingo: A Study and Translation, also published by SUNY Press, and The Feminist Mystic.


"I greatly admire the power of these simple, understated narratives to reveal the courage of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. This is a profoundly moving book in quiet and unexpected ways. I often felt myself transported—not only to another place and time—but into other consciences and destinies. Prison of Women is a cornucopia of telling, existential revelations about life, death, struggle, and hope. This is history first-hand, free from jargon, deepened by time and a tragic sense of life. It is a text of memories, colored and shaped by loss, yet filled with affirmation. " — Robert Inchausti, author of The Ignorant Perfection of Ordinary People

"This is an extremely powerful book, deftly edited and translated to bring forward a group of stories that deserve to be heard and could too easily be lost. " — Amanda Powell, University of Oregon