Women Historians United States Historian Arthur Schlesinger Term Paper

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Women Historians

United States historian Arthur Schlesinger stated that historians' silence about women made it seem that half of the American population had not had any impact on the country's history. "Any consideration of woman's part in American history must include the protracted struggle of the sex for larger rights and opportunities, a story that in itself is one of the noblest chapters in the history of American democracy," he wrote in 1935.

Because of the male domination of history, and the lack of women writers, many events and people of the time were forgotten and received little or no recognition for their efforts.1 However, what if the situation was different? What if women historians did have the opportunity to be on par with their male counterparts? It is still questionable whether their writings would have had any impact on what was occurring in society at that time.

It took until the 1960s when women were finally encouraged to become social historians. As Woloch notes in the preface of her book written in 1984, Women and American Experience "Over the past two decades, the study of women's history has been transformed from a cottage industry, ignored by most professional historians, into a thriving academic enterprise"2 (v).

The 1930s and the Depression, when Schlesinger made his statement, was a time that has been slanted by male historians. There were a number of women during this time impacted the social, economic and political happenings in the country, but who have not been covered in most history books.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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For example, several women helped develop and lead the labor movement during this decade. In 1937, 23-year-old Myra Wolfgang conducted a sit-down strike of salesclerks and counter waitresses at one of the branches of the Woolworth's dime stores in Detroit, Michigan. The main Woolworth's was already on strike, and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union was saying they were going to do the same at all 40 stores. In the 1940s and 1950s, Wolfgang ran the union's Detroit Joint Council, which bargained contracts for a majority of the cooks, bartenders, food servers, dishwashers, and maids in the city's downtown hotels and restaurants. She was nicknamed the "battling belle of Detroit" by the local media3 (Cobble 3).

Cobble calls women in the unions like Wolfgang "labor feminists." She says, "I consider them 'feminists' because they recognized that women suffer disadvantages due to their sex and because they sought to eliminate sex-based disadvantages. I call them 'labor feminists' because they articulated a particular variant of feminism that put the needs of working-class women at its core and because they championed the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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