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Women's History

Hi! I am a third grade teacher in Mobile, AL. I am writing several feminist organizations in order to complete a project with my students.

Our grade level will learn about and perform a program relating to the 1940's and 1950's in American History. I am concerned that they learn that women played important roles in our history. However, I am discouraged to find that there are very few mentions of women who influenced our history in the books that we have read so far.

I was hoping that someone who works with your site could send me a few names of women who made contributions during this time period. Inventors, scientists, artists, writers, and those who were politically important would all be of interest to us.

Any information, ideas, or suggestions you could send to me would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you very much for you time. Sincerely, Jan


Thank you for your note to FEMINIST.COM. I want to first say that I think it's great that you are filling in the gaps of American History for your students. If every teacher realized these gaps, soon we would hopefully have a more complete and honest American History.

There are several women who were active in the 1940s and 50s. I have included a brief sampling, but I think it would be most helpful if you had some reference books, which I can recommend. If it's not possible to purchase books, I would gladly send a few to you as a gift. Let me know. And, in the interim, here are a few pioneering women from that time:

  • Eleanor Roosevelt--not only was she First Lady, but she created the Declaration on Human Rights, which just celebrated it's 50th Anniversary at the United Nations.

  • Esther Peterson--who passed away just last year, was an advisory to every President from Roosevelt through Clinton. She was a pioneering in consumer affairs and she was the first president of the Presidents Commission on the Status of Women under Kennedy. She pioneered nutritional labels on food packages.

  • Nora Neale Hurston, a novelist whose work is actually from earlier in the 20th century, but was nearly lost and only rediscoverd in the 70s.

  • Margaret Sanger began her crusade for legalized birth control around 1914, but continued fighting through the 40s and 50s.

So, there is a sampling, but you really should look at other books, such as:

  • Herstory: Women Who Changed the World, edited by Ruth Ashby and Deborah Gore Ohrn.

  • Scholastics Encyclopedia of Women in American History.

  • The American Woman's Almanac by Louise Bernikow.

You can find most of the above books in the "Women's History" section of the FEMINIST.COM Bookstore.

Also, the National Women's History Project not only lists other books/collections, but also biographies of individual women.

I hope that helps--and I hope other teachers follow your lead.


Amy

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