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U. S. History as Women's History: New Feminist Essays

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This outstanding collection of fifteen original essays represents innovative work by some of the most influential scholars in the field of women's history. Covering a broad sweep of history from colonial to contemporary times and ranging over the fields of legal, social, political, and cultural history, this book, according to its editors, 'intrudes into regions of the American historical narrative from which women have been excluded or in which gender relations were not thought to play a part.' State formation, ...

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Overview

This outstanding collection of fifteen original essays represents innovative work by some of the most influential scholars in the field of women's history. Covering a broad sweep of history from colonial to contemporary times and ranging over the fields of legal, social, political, and cultural history, this book, according to its editors, 'intrudes into regions of the American historical narrative from which women have been excluded or in which gender relations were not thought to play a part.' State formation, power, and knowledge have not traditionally been understood as the subjects of women's history, but they are the themes that permeate this book. Individually and together, the essays explore how gender serves to legitimize particular constructions of power and knowledge and to meld these into accepted practice and state policy. They show how the field of women's history has moved from the discovery of women to an evaluation of social processes and institutions. The book is dedicated to pioneering women's historian Gerda Lerner, whose work inspired so many of the contributors, and it includes a bibliography of her works. from the book The contributors to this volume grew up into a world in which history was rigidly limited. It paid little attention to social relationships, to issues of race, to the concerns of the poor, and virtually none to women. Women figured in it for their ritual status, as wives of presidents like Abigail Adams or Dolly Madison; for their role as spoilers, from the witches of Salem to Mary Todd Lincoln, or for their sacrificial caregiving, like Clara Barton or Dorothea Dix. Even when women like Sojourner Truth, Jane Addams, and Eleanor Roosevelt were named by historians, the radical substance of their work and their lives was routinely ignored. A very few historians of women—Eleanor Flexner, Julia Cherry Spruill, Caroline Ware—worked on the margins of the profession, their contributions unappreciated, and their writing vulnerable to the charge of irrelevance. Contents Part 1. State Formation Linda K. Kerber on women and the obligations of citizenship Kathryn Kish Sklar on two political cultures in the Progressive Era Linda Gordon on women, maternalism, and welfare in the twentieth century Alice Kessler-Harris on the Social Security Amendments of 1939 Nancy F. Cott on marriage and the public order in the late nineteenth century Part 2. Power Nell Irvin Painter on 'soul murder' as a legacy of slavery Judith Walzer Leavitt on Typhoid Mary and early twentieth-century public health Estelle B. Freedman on women's institutions and the career of Miriam Van Waters William H. Chafe on how the personal translates into the political in the careers of Eleanor Roosevelt and Allard Lowenstein Jane Sherron De Hart on women, politics, and power in the contemporary United States Part 3. Knowledge Barbara Sicherman on reading Little Women Joyce Antler on the Emma Lazarus Federation's efforts to promulgate women's history Amy Swerdlow on Left-feminist peace politics in the cold war Ruth Rosen on the origins of contemporary American feminism among daughters of the fifties Darlene Clark Hine on the making of Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"There are many lessons for historians and political activists in this valuable collection. It succeeds in celebrating the power of gender analysis and demonstrating that women's contribution must be seen and taught as an essential part of U.S. history."—Women's Review of Books

"[An] exciting collection of feminist writings by some of the most acute historians writing today. . . . This is a collection of work of inestimable worth and interest, valuable for all American historians, not only feminists."—Journal of Southern History

"U.S. History as Women's History is an impressive contribution to the pursuit of knowledge. Buy it, read it, assign it, and use it."—North Carolina Historical Review

"U.S. History as Women's History is theoretically literate without being highly theorized. . . . It demonstrates the extraordinary importance of analyzing gender within historically specific contexts also shaped by race, class, political structures, and culture. . . . The result is a richly dynamic view of the past, which no brief summary can convey. . . . This is history that matters, that makes a difference."—Journal of American History

"This evocative and stirring collection of essays to honor Gerda Lerner, a foremost pioneer of feminist and multiracial history, does full justice to the range of her challenging vision: remove barriers, think boldly, understand power, end the silences, transform the margins, make a difference. Like the woman it honors, this collection is a work of profound integrity: courageous, path-breaking, powerful, important. Every scholar and activist concerned about public life and social change, feminist consciousness and empowerment, civil rights, human rights, and dignity for all people, will want to read and ponder this book."—Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt [short version; doesn't include Gerda Lerner refs; for ads & pb]

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Linda K. Kerber, May Brodbeck Professor of History at the University of Iowa, is author of Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America.

Alice Kessler-Harris, professor of history at Rutgers University, is author of Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 A Constitutional Right to Be Treated Like American Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship 17
2 Two Political Cultures in the Progressive Era: The National Consumers' League and the American Association for Labor Legislation 36
3 Putting Children First: Women, Maternalism, and Welfare in the Early Twentieth Century 63
4 Designing Women and Old Fools: The Construction of the Social Security Amendments of 1939 87
5 Giving Character to Our Whole Civil Polity: Marriage and the Public Order in the Late Nineteenth Century 107
6 Soul Murder and Slavery: Toward a Fully Loaded Cost Accounting 125
7 Gendered Expectations: Women and Early Twentieth-Century Public Health 147
8 Separatism Revisited: Women's Institutions, Social Reform, and the Career of Miriam Van Waters 170
9 The Personal and the Political: Two Case Studies 189
10 Rights and Representation: Women, Politics, and Power in the Contemporary United States 214
11 Reading Little Women: The Many Lives of a Text 245
12 Between Culture and Politics: The Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs and the Promulgation of Women's History, 1944-1989 267
13 The Congress of American Women: Left-Feminist Peace Politics in the Cold War 296
14 The Female Generation Gap: Daughters of the Fifties and the Origins of Contemporary American Feminism 313
15 The Making of Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia 335
Notes 349
Bibliography of the Writings of Gerda Lerner 439
Contributors 443
Index 447
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