Stepping out of the Shadows: Alabama Women, 1819-1990

By Mary Martha Thomas | Go to book overview
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Introduction

MARY MARTHA THOMAS

Perhaps more than many other southerners, Alabamians have long been proud of and taken interest in the history of their state. Historians and lay scholars alike have investigated local and state events from the antebellum years in the early nineteenth century to the post-World War II period and the present day, which has resulted in the establishment of a substantial body of literature. But these writers have largely concerned themselves with traditional political and military history of white men. Little attention has been given to the women of the state. Since both black and white women have shared the constraints and the commitments of the state as a whole, the history of Alabama cannot be understood independent of its women's specific contributions.

To encourage Alabamians to appreciate the roles and contributions of women to the state's history, the Alabama Women's History Forum held a conference in Birmingham on March 30-31, 1990, focusing on the history of the women of the state. The essays in this volume are a result of that conference. Since the articles were limited to the papers presented, this volume does not pretend to offer a comprehensive narrative history of Alabama women. They do, however, demonstrate that the outlines of a general history are taking shape. More importantly, they challenge the view that Alabama history was exclusively a white male affair.

Women's history developed as a discipline from the convergence of an intellectual development (the rise of the new social history) and a social movement (the rebirth of feminism). Beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, some historians started to view history in a different light. Instead of

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