The thesis of this essay by Linda Gordon is that women’s history has evolved over the course of U.S. history. That is, the study of women’s history has not always been widely accepted and the viewpoints of women have changed dramatically. Gordon’s essay is a mix of her own ideas, backed by the scholarship of others. She begins by explaining the history of women’s history: from a lack thereof, to the education of women allowing for publication by women, to journalists writing about women’s history with the women’s rights movement in the early 1900s. This essay is organized by topic or category, for example: gender, feminism, women’s work, class and race. Within each of these, she presents new ideas and the authors that were responsible for introducing new scholarship. Gordon offers many new topics and shifts in the field of women’s history. All her sources are secondary, and mainly books. For many of them, she provides insight into why an idea or change in viewing an aspect of women’s history came about when it did. She also identifies several holes in the field; some of them are broad and some she cites as gaps in a particular work. For example, while discussing Barbara Welter’s book, Gordon suggests that maternalism could have been included (page 263). As the different topics in women’s history are laid out, Gordon shows the chain reaction of how scholarship appeared, and how one book triggered another. This essay provides a good analysis of the scholarship in the field of U.S. women’s history.
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