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March 29, 2012



Women’s history books that I would recommend to anyone, male or female, who wants to explore the field. Just books that I have liked and that have influenced my thinking. And a few books that I read for the first time this month. No claims they are even the best, but I think you would enjoy and learn from them. (My reviews are linked.)

Ulrich, Laurel. Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750.

Wulf, Karin. Not all Wives: Women of Colonial Philadelphia. Despite the assumption that all colonial women were married, Wulf shows us the numerous exceptions in our leading seventeenth-century city; poverty-stricken widows dependent on welfare, merchant and artisan women struggling to maintain themselves, and elite Quaker women who chose singleness and political society.

Larson, Rebecca. Daughters of Light: Quaker Women Preaching and Prophesying in the Colonies and Abroad, 1700-1750. Uniquely empowered by the Society of Friends’ belief that women and men were equal before God, Quaker women traveled as preachers for months and years back and forth across the Atlantic, even when their journeys required them to put down responsibilities to children and husbands.

Kerber, Linda. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. Insight into how the American Revolution came to mean that women were equal, but only with the domestic sphere.

Hewitt, Nancy. Women’s Activism and Social Change: Rochester, New York, 1822-1872.
The coming together of women in support of the abolitionist cause in the context of community engagements.

Lebsock, Suzanne. Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784-1860. Pre-civil war women’s history, white and black, set in context of a southern city.

Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

Dorsey, Bruce. Reforming Men and Women: Gender in the Antebellum City. Analysis of how involvement in reform and benevolent movements in Philadelphia reshaped attitudes about manhood and womanhood in the early nineteenth century.

Diner, Hasia. Erin’s Daughters in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth-Century. Immigration, ethnicity, and domestic service in another era.

Gordon, Linda. The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction.

Hayden, Dolores. The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities.

Micki McElya. Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America.

Yung, Judy. Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco. Changing options for Chinese women from their arrival in the nineteenth century to the end of World War II.

Benson, Susan Porter. Counter-Culture: Saleswomen, Managers, and Customers in American Department Stores, 1890-1940. The impact of growing consumerism on women who bought and sold in department stores.

Blackwelder, Julia. Women and the Depression: Caste and Culture in San Antonio, 1929-1939.

May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. How cold war thinking shaped about women and families, especially in white suburbia.


Evans, Sara. Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America. General history focusing on mainstream narrative of struggles for public roles, but including treatment of everyday life and minority women.

Giddings, Paula. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. 1890s to the present.

Ruiz, Vicki. From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America.

DuBois, Ellen and Vicky Ruiz, eds. Unequal Sisters: An Inclusive Reader in US Women’s History. An anthology of articles about a wide range of women in the Unites States.

Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2012 12:44 pm

    Oh, great list! Some of these are already on my TBR list, including “When and Where I Enter.” I think part of my excitement about reading that one is the title is just beautiful. It sounds like a line or title of a poem.

    One of my favorite blogs put together a 4 part list that’s worth checking out, too: Aphra’s Reading Room at Shakesville

    • April 1, 2012 9:28 pm

      The title is from a quote from Anna Julia Cooper, a black woman leader of the 1890s, “when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there…race enters with me.”

      Thanks for the suggestion of Aphra’s Reading Room. You are right. That is a wonderful list.

  2. April 13, 2012 8:18 pm

    Thanks for the list!

  3. April 17, 2012 8:29 am

    What an incredible list. I’ve read none of these but have many on my wish list. Will be adding more to my wish list as well.

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