Women in Missouri History: In Search of Power and Influence

By Leeann Whites; Mary C. Neth et al. | Go to book overview

Introduction

LeeAnn Whites

Mary C. Neth

In 1971, the University of Missouri Press published the first volume of A History of Missouri, the beginning of what would culminate in 1997 as a five-volume, multiauthored survey of the history of the state. In the close to thirty years that the authors—Lawrence O. Christensen, William E. Foley, Richard S. Kirkendall, Gary R. Kremer, Perry McCandless, and William E. Parrish—labored over the writing of this milestone achievement, our very understanding of the nature of history itself was simultaneously being radically reassessed and redefined. The rise in social activism in the 1960s, beginning with the Civil Rights movement but moving on to other social movements, percolated into the thinking and writing of historians, causing us to look at our state histories anew and ask, Where are the workers? Where are the women? Where are the ethnic, racial, and religious minorities? 1.

We can see the impact of this new, more inclusive way of thinking about what constitutes the proper subjects for historical study in the way this five-volume history varies from the first volume, which was published in 1971, to the last, which was published in 1997. Nowhere is the contrast more apparent than in the treatment of the history of women. Reflecting the prevailing historiography of the time, the initial three volumes (published in the early 1970s) included no subject entries in the index at all for “women.” However, by the publication of volume 5 in 1987, there were more than twenty-five. Indeed, prior to the great watershed of the 1960s,

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1.
William E. Parrish et al., A History of Missouri, vols. 1—5 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1971—1997).

-1-

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