Women in American Politics: History and Milestones

By Moffitt, Sally | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

Women in American Politics: History and Milestones


Moffitt, Sally, Reference & User Services Quarterly


Women in American Politics: History and Milestones. By Doris Weatherford. Los Angeles: CQ Press, 2012. 2 vols. Acid free $225 (ISBN 978-1-60871007-2). E-book available, call for pricing.

Doris Weatherford's latest compilation chronicles the political history of American women in nineteen thematic chapters beginning with the suffrage movement's achievement of the franchise and ending with a state-by state overview that draws on her previous 4-volume A History of Women in the United States: A State-By-State Reference (Grolier Academic Reference, 2004). In between, chapters cover statewide elective officeholders, state legislators, congressional legislators, state governors and lieutenant governors, city mayors, presidential and vice presidential candidates, cabinet and subcabinet officers, ambassadors, the judiciary, political parties and conventions, interest groups, and PACs.

Each chapter presents a chronologically arranged historical overview of the subject at hand, tabulations such as Table 9.1 "First Female Mayors of Cities with More Than 150,000 Residents, by Year" (238) and Table 14.1 "First Women on State Supreme Courts, by State,"(360), selective biographical profiles of representative women, and a brief listing of references and suggestions for further reading. Black and white photographs illustrate some of the entries. Indexes to names and to subjects are in the back of each of the two volumes.

The numerous tabulations in Women in American Politics are especially useful and would be more so had the author listed the sources from which she drew these tallies. With few exceptions (see for example tables 5.3 "Total Number of Women Elected to State Senates, through 1960s, by Decade and State" [122] and 12.2 "Female Ambassadors, Both Political Appointees and Career Diplomats, 1933 to 1993 [323]), Weatherford covers the data in her tables with the general source note "Compiled by author."

Among recent reference works the one-volume Encyclopedia of Women and American Politics edited by Lynne E. Ford (Facts on File, 2008) emphasizes the conjunction in its title. Some 500 signed essays by 51 contributors address the interplay of women and the American political system through articles such as reproductive rights, the wage gap, and similar social and political issues that have affected women disproportionately, though it too gives extensive coverage to individual women officeholders. The work also includes a series of statistical and chronological appendixes, as well as the text of 21 primary source documents, this latter feature not present in Weatherford's work except in the occasional excerpt inserted in the form of a sidebar. …

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