Writing from the Library (Spring 2019)

Schlesinger holdings informed acclaimed books on feminism, work and family, and the African American essay.

Katherine M. Marino
Feminism for the Americas: The Making of an International Human Rights Movement 
(University of North Carolina Press, 2019) 

Marino consulted a number of collections while researching Feminism for the Americas, including the Alma Lutz Papers, the Frieda S. Miller Papers, the Alice Paul Papers, the Jane Norman Smith Papers, the Doris Stevens Papers, the Mary N. Winslow Papers, and the Louise Leonard Wright Papers.

In a starred review, Library Journal said that the book “would make a welcome addition to courses on feminist theory and women’s roles in the Americas, and it should encourage scholars to dig deeper into the lives and works of feminists who were on the frontlines without necessarily publishing books or articles about feminism.” Nancy F. Cott, the Jonathan Trumbull Research Professor of American History in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences and former Carol K. Pforzheimer Director of the Schlesinger Library, was no less impressed with the effort: “This is the most convincing case I have ever seen for decentering the United States in histories of transnational or international work, in order to tell the full story.”

Marino is an assistant professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Kirsten Swinth 
Feminism’s Forgotten Fight: The Unfinished Struggle for Work and Family
(Harvard University Press, 2018) 

Has feminism failed women, or did the movement face a societal block? To answer this question, Swinth consulted the Dolores Alexander Papers, the Toni Carabillo and Judith Meuli Papers, the Catherine East Papers, the Mary O. Eastwood Papers, NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund Records, the National Organization for Women newsletter collection, Records of the National Organization for Women, and the Tully-Crenshaw Feminist Oral History Project Records.

“With calm acuity and rigor, Swinth surveys several fronts of 1960s–’70s feminist activism to dismantle cultural, economic, and social inequalities enforced by the ‘male breadwinner model,’ women’s outsized responsibility for domestic matters, and workplace discrimination against pregnancy and maternity,” says Publishers Weekly. 

Swinth is an associate professor of history and American studies at Fordham University. 

Cheryl A. Wall 
On Freedom and the Will to Adorn: The Art of the African American Essay 
(University of North Carolina Press, 2019)

Wall explores the evolution of the essay in African American literature through the Harlem Renaissance before turning to four writers she considers among the most influential of the 20th century: James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, June Jordan, and Alice Walker. For her chapter “On Women, Rights, and Writing: June Jordan and Alice Walker,” the author relied mostly on Jordan’s published works, but she also accessed the June Jordan Papers.

Beautifully written and compellingly argued, this welcome and necessary book rescues 

the genre of the essay from the margins of our discussions about African American intellectual and cultural production,” said Farah Jasmine Griffin ’85, a professor at Columbia,
in advance praise.

Wall is the Board of Governors Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English at Rutgers University.

Search Year: 
2019