This extensive collection of public and private sources illuminates a pivotal period of change, resistance, progress, and backlash for American women. From the Hoover vacuum cleaner to the fax machine, from the pill to reproductive rights, and from Rosie the Riveter to Martha Stewart and Hillary Rodham Clinton, American women have grappled with a dizzying array of social and economic developments and shifting conceptions of gender. Respected scholar Harriet Sigerman chronicles an exciting and tumultuous history, beginning with World War II and its profound impact on women's short- and long-term employment prospects. Subsequent documents speak to a series of timely topics: the ideas and changes brought about by the women's movement, the challenges to and defense of reproductive rights, the backlash against feminism in the name of family values, and new visions for women's lives in the twenty-first century. The volume's diverse voices include Lillian Smith, Rosa Parks, Dagmar Wilson, Rachel Carson, Betty Friedan, Carol Gilligan, Fannie Lou Hamer, Naomi Wolf, Anita Hill, Erica Jong, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, among many others.
This enormously valuable volume will provide documentary source materials for students from junior high school through college who are searching for voices of and about American women throughout the second half of the 20th century. The excerpts highlight four themes: changing conceptions of gender, the introduction by women of formerly "private" matters into the policy-making arena, the power of coalition among women of different backgrounds, and the continuing influence of gender on women's ability to make choices about work and family. Brief chapter introductions and headnotes by the editor, who holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Massachusetts, place each selection in historical context. The documents represent a wide array of sources and viewpoints, e.g., Supreme Court decisions, letters to Ms. magazine, and declarations of religious figures. Individual speakers include Betty Friedan, Anita Hill, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush, Jerry Falwell, Dan Quayle, and many others whose names are much less familiar. Women of every race, diverse economic circumstances, and educational attainment appear. While one might wish that some of the excerpts were longer, this volume might also serve as a text in the college classroom. In any case, most public and academic libraries will want this book on their shelves.-Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.