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.