Movers and Shakers: American Women Thinkers and Activists, 1900-1970

Movers and Shakers: American Women Thinkers and Activists, 1900-1970

Movers and Shakers: American Women Thinkers and Activists, 1900-1970

Movers and Shakers: American Women Thinkers and Activists, 1900-1970

Excerpt

Historians of the Western world have traditionally written about, and thereby preserved in print, the spectacular events, actions, personalities, and thoughts of human history. But with notable exceptions. Their idea of spectacularity has been governed by their cultural views: most especially, their inherent assumption that man, rather than woman, is the maker of history and culture; and that the white man, rather than the black man, is the noteworthy participant in history. In addition to these significant exceptions, all historians operate within their particular frames of reference, their unique regions, genetic makeup, family upbringing, and social experiences. Thus, the records of history are indeed fragile expressions of white male historians' limited perspectives.

The human restrictions upon historians, of course, cannot be overcome entirely, but many of them can be controlled. The liberation movements of women and blacks during the 1960's and 1970's have made all Westerners more aware of the serious prejudices that have governed society's treatment of these groups. Historians, among others, have been faced with the need to redress the legitimate grievances suffered by women and blacks in their written records. Histories and studies of women, along with black histories and black studies, are all part of the academic scenario in the 1970's.

The history books are slowly being rewritten to include these heretofore forgotten groups. Historians, as well as other people, discover (once they look) that women thought, wrote, and acted upon many of the same (and also other) subjects that men thought, wrote, and acted upon. This is not to suggest that women's (or black Americans') participation in history has been morally superior or ideologically preferable to white men's, but simply that women and blacks did participate in history and should be given their rightful place.

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