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American Women's History Paperback – March, 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan General Reference; First Edition edition (March 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671850288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671850289
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,347,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Weatherford says that "the aim of this work is to provide some of the substance to fill in the background of this larger picture of [women's roles in] American history." To achieve this objective, she includes biographical sketches of a wide range of women who have contributed to American life, as well as thematic articles on such topics as abortion, settlement houses, the garment industry, the suffrage movement, prostitution, and protective legislation. Articles are arranged alphabetically with some see references; see also is indicated in the text by using small capitals. Items range in length from a few paragraphs to several pages. Biographies include birth and death dates, when known. Fifty black-and-white photographs illustrate the work.

The book lacks an index. Even though there are cross-references, an index is needed in a work of this scope. There are no bibliographies, although the author lists titles and dates of memoirs. She includes articles on various jobs women have held (e.g., Nurses and Nursing, Teachers and Teaching); however, there is no mention of two of the most notable female-dominated professions: social work and librarianship. The author has a tendency to mention a biographee's religion where it apparently has no bearing on her accomplishments. For example, Lillian Wald's biography notes that she "grew up in a prosperous Jewish home in Rochester, New York." Wald's life as a founder of the visiting-nurse movement is certainly in direct contrast to her upbringing in a well-to-do home, but what effect did her religious background have on her work? Besides Jews, the author is usually careful to point out women of Quaker birth, and includes an article on Quaker women. The role of women in the major U.S. religious denominations is important and should have been covered in the book.

American Women's History complements The Women's Desk Reference (RBB Ja 15 94). The latter deals with a range of issues of interest to women, while the title under review is concerned with history. Reasonably priced, this work will be a useful tool in academic, public, and high school libraries, especially for its biographies of women that may be difficult to find elsewhere. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Reginleif II on July 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book at a yard sale (a great source for all sorts of interesting books, incidentally, especially if you live in a big college city like Boston). As I'm nowhere near the orthodox feminist I was in my teens and early 20s, I figured I'd have major disagreements with Weatherford, but hey, it was cheap, so I grabbed it.

Well, my guess was about right. The book is, in practical terms, a very good reference to both celebrated American feminist icons, such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, full of many facts and quotations. On the other hand, its ideological slant makes it rather hard to swallow for anyone, man or woman, who does not fully agree with feminist orthodoxy, let alone radical feminism.

In my opinion, the book's greatest moral failing is its glossing over of Communism and Socialism. Many, many feminists, especially in the early to mid-20th century, were very active in these movements -- or, should I say, "this movement," because they were both forms of a specific type of collectivism. And collectivism, no matter what type, was the deadliest ideology of the 20th century.

Yet when the subject comes up in her book, Weatherford either glosses it over or mentions it with what I perceive to be an approving tone. And though many entries are about specific phenomenon rather than individual women -- "Department Stores," "Domestic Servants," "Prostitution," etc. -- there are none for "Communism," "Socialism," or even "Radicalism."

The book having been published in '94, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I'm wondering if Weatherford was at least astute enough not to come right out and celebrate that failed ideology.
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American Women's History
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