Visitors to this site will be immediately impressed by the variety and the range of topics that the site editors Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin have made available for our investigation. These include “Male Supporters of Women’s Rights in the 1850s,” “African-American Women and the Chicago World’s Fair,” “Southern Women and Antilynching, 1890–1942,” and “Puerto Rican Women Garment Workers and the New Deal, 1933,” to name only a few.
Attending to differences in women’s experiences across region, race, class, and national boundaries, these editorial projects are at the cutting edge of current scholarship in U.S. women’s history. Together these projects complement and go beyond many of the essay collections currently used to map and narrativize U.S. women’s history in university-level survey courses and college seminars. This editorial project is likely to become a standard and well-used resource for students just beginning to learn the techniques of primary research and teachers surveying the state of the field.
One of the site’s primary strengths is that it is easy to negotiate. Clicking “Projects” at the home page brings up a list of one- to three-page topical essays with endnotes in hypertext format that link directly to primary documents. A visitor interested in temperance reform, for example, can choose between “Minnesota Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, 1878–1917” and “African-American Women in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, 1880–1900.” These two essays shift our angle of vision between the local and the national and from longer stories of organization building over time to shorter moments of change. Visitors interested in the woman suffrage movement can explore Lucretia Mott’s reform networks in the antebellum period, the sentiments of Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois toward women’s enfranchisement in the first decades of the twentieth century, and post-suffrage women’s participation in partisan politics in New York.
The documents themselves are well chosen and represent the variety of evidence on which historians base their claims including speeches, newspaper editorials and articles, and correspondence. At the end of each essay is a comprehensive and up-to-date topical bibliography (in some cases annotated) and a link to related sites, which makes this site an ideal place for students embarking on longer research projects. A Teacher’s Corner places the content of each editorial project in the context of survey courses in women’s history and U.S. history, suggesting ways for teachers to integrate the topics raised by these projects into an already established curriculum.
It is worth noting that the site has a search engine that
allows visitors to use the documents in creative ways. Typing “Elizabeth
Cady Stanton” into the engine brought up forty-two matches across several
editorial projects. By facilitating access to primary research by new students
of history and bringing current trends in scholarship to a wide audience,
Women and Social Movements makes good on the promise of this new
Allison L. Sneider