Women's Oral History: The Frontiers Reader

Women's Oral History: The Frontiers Reader

Women's Oral History: The Frontiers Reader

Women's Oral History: The Frontiers Reader

Synopsis

Women's Oral History includes nineteen essays from the journal Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, each addressing the particularity of women's lives and experience. The collection provides both "how to" interview guides and examples; describes the many uses of women's oral history; relates some discoveries and insights gained from oral history; and raises thought-provoking questions.

Excerpt

Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies began publication in 1975. Along with Signs and Feminist Studies, it was one of the first academic journals to emerge from the second wave of the Women's Movement. Like its sister journals Frontiers was dedicated to the publication of the new feminist scholarship, but it also sought to bridge the gap between the academy and the community. It published articles of interest not just to academic feminists (who were not all that plentiful in the mid-1970s), but also to feminist activists. In the 1970s a lot of women fit that description: They started women's health clinics, rape crisis lines, battered women's shelters, displaced homemakers programs, women's legal services, welfare rights organizations, lesbian organizations, and women's labor organizations. All of these women whether they were designing and teaching their first women's studies courses or building women's community organizations were starved for information about women. At that time little was published about women's history, and scanty knowledge existed about the deep and sustaining tradition of feminist activism that we now know has existed for centuries. We didn't even know very much about how most women conducted and thought about their own lives because few researchers before us had thought to look beyond the handful of famous women. We urgently needed to know more about all women.

The first landmark Frontiers issue on women's oral history (1977) was intended to fill this information gap. Oral history interviewing people for the purpose of recording their personal and historical memories was the perfect tool for the grassroots effort of interviewing ordinary women. Tape recorders were inexpensive, and the basic interviewing methods were easy . . .

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