Teaching About American Women and Reform Syllabus February, 1996

Original Query:

>From Amy S. Green greena@dennison.edu 03 Feb 1996

I've just taken a tenure-track position at Denison, I'm the so-called gilded age/progressive era "expert." I was also hired to teach American women's history, and environmental history. Next fall, I'm teaching an upper-level course on women and reform (1840-1940); I'd like to solicit responses from the community regarding books, topics, even syllabi, etc. that intersect with the period and topic. The following is what I've looked into so far. I'll eventually have to narrow my book list to about 8, then include articles, documents, etc. Any other ideas[than the ones listed below]? Thanks!


"American Women and Social Reform: 1840-1940"

I've considered organizing the course according to both periods and topics:

  1. Antebellum reform (temperance, abolitionism, early women's rights)
  2. Gilded Age Reform (women's clubs, purity crusades...?)
  3. Progressive Era (NAACP, Anti-lynching, nature conservation, urban reform and social welfare)
  4. WWI (Suffrage and labor organization)
  5. Depression (Art as a tool of social reform; Dorothea Lange, etc.)
  6. New Deal (Federal reform initiatives and women--E. Roosevelt/Frances Perkins

Other organizations/topics:

National Consumers League (not sure what I'd use)

Moral Reform Literature (for ex. Uncle Tom's Cabin)

Women's labor movement (possibly could begin with Lowell in the 1830s and trace it through?)

Sex, reproduction, marriage reform (Margaret Sanger and predecessors)

Some of the material I might consider using:

Mary White Ovington, Black and White Sat Down Together (her memoirs of the NAACP)

Wells, On Lynchings

Addams, Hull House

Ruth Rosen, The Lost Sisterhood (purity crusaders and prostitution)

B. Epstein, The Politics of Domesticity: Women, Evangelism and Temperance in the 19th c.

Mary Jo Buhle, Women and American Socialism, 1870-1920

Schneider, et al., American Women in the Progressive Era, 1900-1920

William Leach, True Love and Perfect Union, the Feminist Reform of Sex and Society

Also, anyone familiar with Robin Jacoby, The British and American Women's Trade Union Leagues, 1890-1925

Elizabeth Payne, Reform, Labor and Feminism: Margaret Dreier Robins and the Women's Trade Union League and Jenny Morris, Women Workers and the Sweated Trades: The Origins of the Minimum Wage Legislation(1986)


Alexanda, Brady and Shaver-Hughes, Sarah...recent publication, no title

Buijis, Gina, ed. Migrant Women: Crossing The Boundaries and Changing Identities, (Berg:Providence, 1993)

Evans, Sara, Personal Politics [editor's note: an interesting suggestion that focuses on the 1960s forward]

Freedman, Estelle B., Their Sisters Keepers: Women's Prison Reform in America, 1830-1930

Gordon, Linda Pitied But Not Entitled

Hersch, Blanche Glassman, The Slavery of Sex

Hoffert, Sylvia D., When Hens Crow: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States

Kunzel, Regina G. Fallen Women, Problem Girls: Unmarried Mothers and the Professionalization of Social Work, 1890-1945

Ladd-Taylor, Molly, Mother-Work

Mink, Gwendolyn, The Wages of Motherhood

Muncy, Robin, Creating a Female Dominion

Odem, Mary E., Delinquent Daughters: Protecting and Policing Adolescent Female Sexuality in the United States, 1885-1920

Sklar, Kathryn Kish, Florence Kelley (biography)

Smith, Susan L. Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: Black Women's Health Activism in America, 1890-1950

Sokpol, Theda, Protecting Mothers (or it might be Widows) and Orphans

Protecting Soldiers and Mothers

Swaisland, Cecillie, Female Migration and Social Mobility: British Female Domestic Servants to South Africa, 1860-1914.

Tax, Meredith, The Rising of Women

Yellin, Jean Fagin, Women and Sisters: The Antislavery Feminists in American Culture

Yellin, Jean Fagin and Van Horn, John C. The Abolitionist Sisterhood (essays)

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