The Columbia Guide to American Women in the Nineteenth Century

The Columbia Guide to American Women in the Nineteenth Century

The Columbia Guide to American Women in the Nineteenth Century

The Columbia Guide to American Women in the Nineteenth Century

Synopsis

The experience of women in the nineteenth century has generated a wealth of interdisciplinary research in recent decades. The Columbia Guide to American Women in the Nineteenth Century presents the best of the recent scholarship available in a concise, "one-stop" resource, providing students of women's history and nineteenth-century American culture with an authoritative source of information and interpretation. The authors emphasize areas in which scholars have identified important changes (such as suffrage and reform), topics in which researchers are now making great strides (such as racial, ethnic, religious, and regional diversity), and innovative and relatively recent explorations (for example, work on female sexuality). Accessible overview articles and alphabetical encyclopedia-like entries are combined in a comprehensive, easy-to-use volume. Part 1 contains a historiographical essay followed by a ten-chapter narrative overview. These chapters include discussions of families and households, labor and the workforce, religion and morality, feminism and equal rights, reform and voluntarism, and more. Part 2 is an A-to-Z listing of concise entries on key terms, notable figures, political movements, social and religious organizations, and legislation. Part 3 is an annotated chronology placing events in historical context. Part 4 is a topically organized selection of the best resources for further research, including general historical works, biographies and autobiographies, journals, archives, web sites, novels, and films.

Excerpt

When we began our careers as graduate students together at Princeton in the fall of 1975, little did we know what an ambitious, diverse, and burgeoning field nineteenth-century American women's history would become—but we both knew we wanted to be a part of this exciting and expanding enterprise. Over the next few years one of us would go on to complete her dissertation on plantation mistresses in the Old South and the other would finish her thesis on Alice Paul and Paul's role in the woman suffrage movement (each publishing her study as a book in the 1980s). Then, as now, we were swept away by the dynamic scholarship and the heady sense of anticipation and expectations for work on American women's past.

When asked to undertake the challenge of a Columbia Guide covering American women in the nineteenth century, we leaped at the opportunity— to revisit, to renew acquaintance, to rise to the occasion of the tide of new and exciting studies rushing into print. Charting the course of progress in our fields has been exciting, and we wanted to expand our collective readings to explore new and diverse areas of ongoing inquiry. Subjects are being explored in sensitive and creative ways, employing new data and research techniques that have only become available in recent years.

Naturally, we were daunted at the prospect of trying to cover all the existing materials and incorporating every aspect of nineteenth-century women's experience. Thus our task has been to emphasize those areas in which scholars have highlighted important changes (such as suffrage and reform), to illuminate those areas in which scholars are now making great strides (such as racial, ethnic, religious, and regional diversity), and to incorporate those innovative and relatively recent explorations (for example, work on female friendships and female sexuality) into a compact yet inclusive format.

To make the volume as accessible as possible for readers and in keeping with the overall format of the series, the book is divided into four distinct parts. Each part is designed to be used independent of the other three, but we intend them to be interlocking and to reinforce each other.

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