Friday, March 19, 2010

Diversity Roll Call: Celebrating Women’s History

I’ve been meaning to do this but have been too busy until now to put something together. Earlier this month, Diversity Roll Call at Color Online asked us to provide a short annotated bibliography of reference or history titles in celebration of Women’s History Month:
Our girls and we, women, are bombarded with narrow, stifling images of ourselves. There is a lack of positive imaging. However, rather than simply complain, let us educate ourselves and take on the responsibility of promoting and supporting women. And there are those men who love and respect us who celebrate us as well so the question is, who and what should we be reading in honor of women?
If you don't own or haven't read any reference titles, what memoirs, autobiographies or biographies do you recommend? What women's book impacted you in an indelible way? Do you have any favorite books by women about women? 
Here are my suggestions:

A really interesting textbook that provides a diverse and interesting look at American women's history is Major Problems in American Women's History, edited by Mary Beth Norton and Ruth M. Alexander. I know, it's a textbook and therefore ridiculously expensive (it's currently in its fourth edition), but you can find earlier used editions (I own the second edition) for a much more economical price. Anyway, I like that it covers many different issues and topics as well as provides both scholarly essays and documents written by women living during the periods being examined. It also does a nice job of incorporating into the study a diverse group of women from many different backgrounds as well.

I admit that I have not had a chance to go through Unequal Sisters: An Inclusive Reader in US Women's History edited by Vicki L. Ruiz and Ellen Carol DuBois, but I've heard nothing but good things about it. Amazon's description says: "It provides an unparalleled resource for understanding women’s history in the United States today. When it was first published in 1990, it revolutionized the field with its broad multicultural approach, and continued, through its next two editions, to emphasize feminist perspectives on race, ethnicity, region, and sexuality." It is currently in its fourth edition (and is expensive because it is a textbook), but you can find earlier editions at more reasonable prices.

Black Women in White America, edited by Gerda Lerner, is an anthology of rare letters, journal entries, articles and speeches by black women about themselves. In a country that has focused for so long on people who were white and male in its history, having a book that focuses on the words of black women throughout American history is refreshing and inspiring. It is nice to know that these documents are out there and have been saved and put together into one place for reference and for future generations to learn from.

I know I've put together a short list of pretty thick books that cover a long period of time, but I thought they were interesting reference books that I wanted to share for Women's History Month.


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