No Small Courage: A History of Women in the United States

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Enriched by the wealth of new research into women's history, No Small Courage offers a lively chronicle of American experience, charting women's lives and experiences with fascinating immediacy from the precolonial era to the present. Individual stories and primary sources-including letters, diaries, and news reports-animate this history of the domestic, professional, and political efforts of American women.

John Demos begins the book with a discussion of Native American women confronting colonization. Leading historians illuminate subsequent eras of social and political change-including Jane Kamensky on women's lives in the colonial period, Karen Manners Smith on the rising tide of political activity by women in the Progressive Era, Sarah Jane Deutsch on the transition of 1920s optimism to the harsh realities of the Great Depression, Elaine Tyler May on the challenges to a gender-defined social order encouraged by World War II, and William H. Chafe on the women's movement and the struggle for political equality since the 1960s. The authors vividly relate such events as Anne Hutchinson's struggle for religious expression in Puritan Massachusetts, former slave Harriet Tubman's perilous efforts to free others in captivity, Rosa Parks's resistance to segregation in the South, and newfound opportunities for professional and personal self-determination available as a result of decades of protest. Dozens of archival illustrations add to the human dimensions of the authoritative text.

No Small Courage dynamically captures the variety and significance of American women's experience, demonstrating that the history of our nation cannot be fully understood without focusing on changes in women's lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Illuminating and lively personal narratives.... Succeeds in giving a sense of how women have been 'active agents' in American history."—The New York Times Book Review

"Details a rich store of female accomplishment over several centuries."—The Baltimore Sun

"Significant additions to the history of women in the United States."—Dallas Morning News

"Thoughtful, broad ranging, and engagingly written. A significant addition to literature in women's history. Accessible and inclusive, it will undoubtedly be an enormously useful volume for years to come."—Florida Historical Quarterly

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Of the 10 weighty essays in this lengthy anthology edited by Yale University's Cott, perhaps the strongest is the opening piece, John Demos's incisive look at Native American women. Indian women, he points out, played a crucial role in the European settlement of North America: they made canoes for the traders, served as guides and translators, and participated directly in trade. In Jane Kamensky's essay on colonial women of European and African descent, we learn about demographics (just what did it mean for white women in the colonial Chesapeake that they were outnumbered by men?) and the complexity of colonial marriage. Kamensky also elucidatesDthough somewhat cursorily, Dthe hardships of slavery. Harriet Sigerman describes the 19th-century women's rights battles, looking at women's struggles to get an education, find meaningful work and, most importantly, gain the vote. Karen Manners Smith, writing about the fin-de-si cle, describes women's agitation for suffrage, the women's club movement and women's missionary activity. And in two rousing, if a touch triumphalistic, essays Elaine Tyler May and William H. Chafe introduce readers to women in the post-WWII era: suburban housewives, restless feminists, lesbian activists and ERA advocates. The volume is comprehensive, though perhaps already somewhat dated; it smacks of the 1980s cheerleading style of women's history, and does not reflect recent work that employs gender as a category of analysis rather than simply talking about women as a subject for historical analysis. Still, this volume will no doubt be read enthusiastically by armchair historians and be adopted for classroom use at colleges across the country. (Dec.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This collection of ten synthetic essays draws on voluminous recent scholarship about American women. Heavily illustrated and offering more than 100 pictures, the text includes many vignettes about individual women, both notable and ordinary, from early Native American women to more recent movement leaders. All the contributors provide multiple perspectives based on race and class. Because each chapter is written independently, however, this volume is less seamless than other histories of American women; some material appears in more than one chapter. While several contributors are eminent historians (e.g., William Chafe, Elaine Tyler May, and John Demos), other are less well known, and the essays vary in tone and sophistication. (Cott, Stanley Woodard Professor of History and American Studies at Yale, wrote only a three-page preface.) Recommended for public libraries and especially young adult collections.--Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195173239
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 656
  • Sales rank: 426,851
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy F. Cott is Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University, and the director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is the author of The Bonds of Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835, The Grounding of Modern Feminism, and Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation, among other books.

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Table of Contents

1. The Tried and the True: Native American Women Confronting Colonization, John Demos
2. The Colonial Mosaic: 1600-1760, Jane Kamensky
3. The Limits of Independence: 1760-1800, Marylynn Salmon
4. Breaking New Ground: 1800-1848, Michael Goldberg
5. An Unfinished Battle: 1848-1865, Harriet Sigerman
6. Laborers for Liberty: 1865-1890, Harriet Sigerman
7. New Paths to Power: 1890-1920, Karen Manners Smith
8. From Ballots to Breadlines: 1920-1940, Sarah Jane Deutsch
9. Pushing the Limits: 1940-1961, Elaine Tyler May
10. The Road to Equality: 1962-Today, William H. Chafe
Picture Credits

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