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Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women's Rights Movement (Pivotal Moments in American History) Paperback – September 8, 2009

ISBN-13: 858-1000013716 ISBN-10: 0195393333 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Series: Pivotal Moments in American History
  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195393333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195393330
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #736,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. McMillen, who chairs the history department at Davidson College, presents a fine history of the 1848 Seneca Falls convention, which galvanized the women's movement through the remainder of the 19th century and also affected concurrent struggles for temperance, abolition and educational reform. Narrowing her focus to four suffragists—Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone—McMillen nimbly weaves their stories with the larger narrative of reform. After a splendid introductory chapter that outlines the legal injustices most women suffered (typically, they could not vote, hold property or receive equal pay for their work), McMillen describes the convention itself, about which we know relatively little (Stanton gave it just two sentences in her mammoth memoir) and then traces its unexpectedly weighty impact on reformers through the decades. She does an outstanding job of discussing how religion functioned as both an impetus and an obstacle to reform, and pays particular attention to how the women's movement broke apart during Reconstruction because of internal bickering, racism and class divisions. This is not a revisionist work or a substantial challenge to the conventional historiography of suffrage, but a well-written and cogent synthesis accessible to the general reader while remaining firmly grounded in primary sources. 20 b&w illus. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"McMillen tells the story of the woman's rights movement quite well, and her book adds to our understanding of the woman's rights movement."--Sherry H. Penney, The Journal of American History


"McMillen...presents a fine history of the 1848 Seneca Falls convention...a well-written and cogent synthesis accessible to the general reader while remaining firmly grounded in primary sources."--Publishers Weekly


"McMillen clearly articulates 50 years of critical women's political activism.... If for no other reason, that discussion of the relationship between race and gender struggles makes this work particularly timely in the 2008 election season."--Bust


"Sally McMillen weaves together compelling biographies of colorful leaders with an engaging analysis of the broader reform movements that transformed the texture and trajectory of American society. It is an extraordinary story of ideals and energies that continue to shape American life. In short, McMillen offers a learned and lucid overview of a movement that still moves us."--David Emory Shi, President of Furman University; author of Facing Facts: Realism in American Thought and Culture, 1850-1900


"Tracing the developments that led up to and away from the Woman's Rights Convention of 1848, the volume makes a major contribution to women's history and to American history."--Nancy A. Hewitt, Rutgers University


"This book provides a compulsively readable history of nineteenth-century American feminism--its origins, struggles, achievements, and legacies. I know of no more insightful account of the birth and evolution of the movement to overcome gender inequality."--Steven Mintz, John and Rebecca Moores Professor of History, University of Houston


"Sally McMillen offers the most complete discussion yet of the origins and the impact of this event that started the American women's movement and would change the world."--Marjorie Julian Spruill, Professor of History, The University of South Carolina; author of ew Women of the New South


"McMillen deftly demonstrates how ordinary women transformed their lives and America's future by rejecting the pedestal to join the rough and tumble of nineteenth century reform politics. Her achievement is to make this transformation accessible yet complex, commonplace yet extraordinary."--Catherine Clinton, Queen's University-Belfast


"In this gracefully written study, McMillen offers a deft synthesis of what might be called the first century of the struggle for women's rights."--Philip Jenkins and Grant A. Wacker, Christian Century


"In this gracefully written study, McMillen offers a deft synthesis of what might be called the first century of the struggle for women's rights."--Christian Century



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Customer Reviews

McMillen does such fabulous work.
bookish
Very informative about that convention and the history of the struggle for women's rights.
J. Riza
Anyone interested in Women's right must read this book.
Rebecca Kruger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Connelly on February 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book. Although I studied feminist history in college and have been familiar with the names and deeds of the four women featured in "Seneca Falls..." for years, it wasn't until reading this book that these women became human to me. The author does a stunning job of bringing them and their individual and collective struggles to life in a wonderfully engaging, accessible way. What an extraordinary story of patience and deep-seated belief in the possibility of change - a timely, inspiring message I'm very glad to have stumbled upon.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. Curry on February 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What timing! Events in the lives of the four bright and strong-willed nineteenth century women highlighted in this book have heightened relevance in the current presidential election campaign. In both periods competing interests of minorities create potential conflict.

The way that Professor McMillen intricately wove the events leading up to and following the Seneca Falls Convention into the fabric of everyday life was brilliant. For the first time I began to understand: Why in the world did it take 72 years from Seneca Falls in 1848 to 1920 to pass the amendment giving women the right to vote? McMillen provided precious details about the human goings-on and the interpersonal relationships that explain the sputtering, two-steps-forward, one-step-back movement.

History often seems so top-down and conceptual, but this book reminds one of the significance of those day-to-day small steps. The Seneca Falls convention may have been the catalyst for a pivotal moment in womens rights, but McMillen allowed the individual personalities throughout the period to shine.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Chris on December 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure exactly how to rate this book. On the one hand, it has lots of information, and I needed a nice refresher of the Jacksonian-era women's rights movement. On the other hand, the title of the book is very misleading, and the last chapter is endless and meandering.

When I saw the title of the book, which gains instant credibility since it's an Oxford publication, I expected a chapter of historical background to Seneca Falls, the bulk of the book on the movement that led to Seneca Falls and the convention itself, and then an epilogue that summed up how the movement progressed in the following decades. Instead, Seneca Falls is just a fraction of this book, even though the series is "Pivotal MOMENTS in American History." It's essentially a chronological recap of the movement -- from the Jacksonian era through the end of the century -- revolving loosely around Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone. (As an aside, it drives me absolutely crazy that in a serious work of history, the author refers to these women by their first names throughout the book.)

This book is not a terribly difficult read, though it drags at times. If you get through it, you'll get some nice background information on the movement and learn more about some remarkable women, but it's hardly a focused or illuminating study. And it desperately needs a different title.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By And Then Some Publishing LLC on March 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women's Rights Movement (Pivotal Moments in American History)
Review by Richard L. Weaver II, PhD.

Having recently visited Seneca Falls, New York, and the National Woman's Rights Museum along the Genessee Canal, and the Elizabeth Cady Stanton home in Seneca Falls, both located in the Finger Lakes District of New York, gave me a special feel for the information in this fine book. Just to show you the kind of book it is, there are 44 pages of "Notes" at the back of the book, that are incredibly detailed and specific. For further insight into the kind of book it is, McMillen is the Mary Reynolds Babcock Professor of History and Department Chair at Davidson College, in Davidson, North Carolina. This book is a thorough, comprehensive, well-documented examination that "focuses on the principal players and some of the seminal events that occurred in the years just prior to Seneca Falls and in the decades that followed. Four remarkable women [Lucretia Coffin Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and Susan B. Anthony] were central to the nineteenth-century women's movement. They provide the framework for this book" (pp. 4-5). The background of how McMillen became interested in women's issues, discussed in the "Introduction" to the book (pp. 6-7), provides a fascinating exploration not just to the etymology of this book, but to how a professor is born, as well. The structure of McMillen's book is chronological in which she first offers an overview of American women's world before Seneca Falls, and then examines reform efforts during the antebellum period.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Weaver on February 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that anyone with an interest in women's rights should read. It is just one more example of what a great historical author McMillen is. It is particularly timely in light of the current presidential election. McMillen's use of primary sources and her meticulous research gives the reader a stong understanding of the struggle that women went through to get the right to vote.
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