For the Many: American Feminists and the Global Fight for Democratic Equality

For the Many: American Feminists and the Global Fight for Democratic Equality

by Dorothy Sue Cobble
For the Many: American Feminists and the Global Fight for Democratic Equality

For the Many: American Feminists and the Global Fight for Democratic Equality

by Dorothy Sue Cobble


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A history of the twentieth-century feminists who fought for the rights of women, workers, and the poor, both in the United States and abroad

For the Many presents an inspiring look at how US women and their global allies pushed the nation and the world toward justice and greater equality for all. Reclaiming social democracy as one of the central threads of American feminism, Dorothy Sue Cobble offers a bold rewriting of twentieth-century feminist history and documents how forces, peoples, and ideas worldwide shaped American politics. Cobble follows egalitarian women’s activism from the explosion of democracy movements before World War I to the establishment of the New Deal, through the upheavals in rights and social citizenship at midcentury, to the reassertion of conservatism and the revival of female-led movements today.

Cobble brings to life the women who crossed borders of class, race, and nation to build grassroots campaigns, found international institutions, and enact policies dedicated to raising standards of life for everyone. Readers encounter famous figures, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, and Mary McLeod Bethune, together with less well-known leaders, such as Rose Schneiderman, Maida Springer Kemp, and Esther Peterson. Multiple generations partnered to expand social and economic rights, and despite setbacks, the fight for the many persists, as twenty-first-century activists urgently demand a more caring, inclusive world.

Putting women at the center of US political history, For the Many reveals the powerful currents of democratic equality that spurred American feminists to seek a better life for all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691156873
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 05/11/2021
Series: America in the World , #32
Pages: 584
Product dimensions: 9.25(w) x 6.12(h) x (d)

About the Author

Dorothy Sue Cobble is Distinguished Professor of History and Labor Studies Emerita at Rutgers University. Her many books include The Sex of Class, Feminism Unfinished, and The Other Women’s Movement (Princeton). Website

Table of Contents

Prologue: From Equal Rights to Full Rights 1

Part I Citizens of the World

1 Sitting at the "Common Table" 15

2 A Higher "Standard of Life" for the World 51

Part II Dreams Deferred

3 A "Parliament of Working Women" 77

4 Social Justice under Siege 102

5 Pan-Internationalisms 124

Part III New Deals

6 Social Democracy, American Style 155

7 A Women's "New Deal for the World" 189

Part IV Universal Declarations

8 Wartime Journeys 223

9 Intertwined Freedoms 255

10 Cold War Advances 294

Part V Redreamings

11 The Pivotal Sixties 339

12 Sisters and Resisters 380

Epilogue: Of the Many, By the Many, For the Many 415

Acknowledgments 427

Abbreviations 435

Notes 445

Index 551

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Dorothy Sue Cobble’s stirring international tale of ‘full rights’ feminism imparts a fundamental lesson: there can be no history of feminism without connecting it to the struggle for economic democracy, and there can be no future for economic democracy without feminism. A must-read book, For the Many offers not just a rich history, it provides an intellectual foundation for a vibrant, multidimensional, and equitable political future."—Jefferson Cowie, author of The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics

"The wide-ranging research that underpins this new history of American feminism is impressive, and its passion and perspective are refreshing."—Marilyn Lake, author of Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and Transpacific Exchange Shaped American Reform

"This indispensable book deftly charts the collective biography of a vast, cosmopolitan, and multigenerational network of ‘full rights’ feminist activists, many with labor movement roots, over the long twentieth century. Dorothy Sue Cobble shows that on both the national and global stage, these individuals laid the groundwork for today’s gender, race, and class justice movements."—Ruth Milkman, author of On Gender, Labor, and Inequality

"With extraordinary breadth and complexity, this narrative of interconnected international feminisms is a scholarly tour de force, a compelling read, and a hopeful reminder that versions of feminism committed to labor and social rights for working people are embedded in American history, and may still inspire movements for gender, class, and racial equality."Joan Sangster, author of Transforming Labour: Women and Work in Postwar Canada

"Only Dorothy Sue Cobble could have written For the Many with such keen sensitivity and historical insight. Covering a large swath of twentieth-century history, this masterful synthesis of existing literature and new research captures the resilience and persistence of the battle for social democratic values in ways that speak powerfully to us today."—Susan Ware, author of Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote

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