Happy International Women’s Day! People are recognizing and celebrating the importance of women all over the world–check out the #InternationalWomensDay hashtag on Twitter to see the many ways people are expressing their appreciation for women today. Here in the U.S., the month of March is National Women’s History Month, where we celebrate the many great achievements by women over the years. Many recent UNC Press titles showcase the lives, work, and struggles of some of these outstanding women. The scope of their contributions knows no bounds. To learn more, check out some of these books.
In Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women’s Sports, Susan Ware takes an in-depth look at the role the tennis legend had–and still has–in sparking a movement toward gender equity in sports. Ware shows that King’s contributions transcend the sports world and situates her as an important figure in feminist history.
Available in June (but pre-order now!) is Unprotected Labor: Household Workers, Politics, and Middle-Class Reform in New York, 1870-1940 by Vanessa H. May. Though domestic workers accounted for a large number of working women at the time, they were not protected by labor laws. May illustrates how these women were activists who navigated the private living space as a public working space while working toward reforming labor conditions in domestic spaces on their own.
Talk With You Like a Woman: African American Women, Justice, and Reform in New York, 1890-1935 by Cheryl D. Hicks uses archival research to unearth the struggles that working class black women experienced around the turn of the century. These women faced discrimination based on both gender and race, and Hicks’ work gives them a voice that others so frequently tried to muffle. Stacey M. Robertson looks at the efforts by abolitionist women in the Old Northwest (what we now know as the Midwest) in Hearts Beating for Liberty: Women Abolitionists in the Old Northwest. Robertson reveals these active women’s efforts to be dynamic, collaborative, enthusiastic, and daring.
A Movement Without Marches: African American Women and the Politics of Poverty in Postwar Philadelphia by Lisa Levenstein examines the struggles of African American women against the constraints of social policy. The book, now available in paperback, received honors from the Urban History Association and the Organization of American Historians.
In New Women of the Old Faith: Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era, Kathleen Sprows Cummings tells the stories of four Catholic women who illustrate how their religion had a part in shaping gender roles and the identity of the “New Woman” in a time of social reform. This book was recognized by the Catholic Press Association Awards in the categories of education, history, and gender issues.
When Janey Comes Marching Home: Portraits of Women Combat Veterans by Laura Browder and Sascha Pflaeging combines rich photographs and oral histories of women veterans from all five branches of the military. Their stories provide moving insight into the multifaceted, complex experience of being a woman serving in combat. Well-Read Lives: How Books Inspired a Generation of American Women by Barbara Sicherman looks at the role books and reading have played in forming American women’s identities, especially those born in the Gilded Age. Though not all had equal access to these transformative books, learning how to read fostered motivation, imagination, and independence in the women of this era.
In Reading is My Window: Books and the Art of Reading in Women’s Prisons, Megan Sweeney looks at the role reading plays in the lives of female prisoners. These women turn to books for empowerment, education, and as a way to navigate their experiences and connect with the world outside of prison walls. Sweeney’s book recently won the 2011 Emily Toth Award from the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association as an outstanding work on women’s issues.
Rebecca Sharpless looks at the role African American women had working as cooks in domestic spaces in Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South,1865-1960. Growing out of the plantation economy model, these women navigated private spaces as public workers, since discrimination and segregation did not afford them many other opportunities until much deeper into the twentieth century.
Building a Housewife’s Paradise: Gender, Politics, and American Grocery Stores in the Twentieth Century by Tracey Deutsch looks at the effect gender roles had on grocery stores and the landscape of American consumer culture. Deutsch shows how grocery stores in a made being a customer or consumer part of “women’s work” in capitalist culture.
In Living the Revolution: Italian Women’s Resistance and Radicalism in New York City, 1880-1945, Jennifer Guglielmo brings to light the activism among working class Italian women that eventually helped form the industrial labor movement. Looking at a generation of immigrants and their American-born daughters shows how activism was passed down and evolved as values changed in light of different social and political events that effected these women. This book was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2010.
2011 is actually the Intenational Women’s Day Centenary celebration. To see how March 8th is being celebrated all across the world, check out the International Women’s Day website. Happy IWD everyone!