History 389: U. S. Women's History Since 1890


University of Massachusetts

Spring 2015


T, Th 1:00-1:50pm

227 Herter Hall


Professor: Laura Lovett                             TAs: Adeline Broussan  

635 Herter Hall                                                    Joie-Lynn Campbell                                                          


Office Hours: T, Th 11:00-12:00, and by appointment      


Course Description: In this course we will consider the diverse experiences and social roles of women from the late nineteenth century to the present day. We will emphasize changes in women's political action, social roles, cultural expression, and personal identity. Issues of migration, race and multiculturalism, class and economic opportunity as well as sexuality and feminism will inform our chronological survey of women's history. This course will ask students to read a variety of primary source materials and to synthesize and critique secondary sources.  4 credits.  GE designation: HSU – Historical Studies, Diversity – U.S.


General Education Statement

History 389 meets General Education Requirements: The course introduces students to the diverse population of women inhabiting and immigrating to the United States during the years from 1890 to the present. From the outset, students tackle fundamental questions about the ways gender structures societal and cultural arrangements in integration with racial, religious, national and social class formations. We study documents and discuss conflicting scholarly interpretation of myriad issues. The critical thinking skill and training in empathic imagination prepare students for enlightened and engaged citizenship. Students learn about both societal oppression and individual agency, both categories vital to their discerning the complexities of power in any time and place. Class assignments, ranging from essays to oral history projects, require students to grapple logically and creatively with historical topics, to incorporate theories and methods from allied disciplines, and to gain skills in oral and written communication.



Texts:  (Books are available at Amherst Books, Main Street, Amherst, MA 01002)



Linda K. Kerber, Jane Sherron De Hart and Cornelia H. Dayton, Eds., Women's America: Refocusing the Past.  7th Edition.

• Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland 



Discussion Sections:   

Section 1         Friday             9:05-9:50am                Morrill Sci Ctr. (I) N319  Campbell

Section 2         Friday             10:10-10:50am            Morrill Sci Ctr. (I) N319  Campbell

Section 3         Friday             12:20-1:10pm             Morrill Sci Ctr. (I) N319  Campbell

Section 4         Friday             10:10-11:00am            TBA                                    Broussan

Section 5         Friday             11:15am-12:05pm      Morrill Sci Ctr. (I) N319  Broussan

Section 6         Friday             1:25-2:15pm               Morrill Sci Ctr. (I) N336  Broussan


Course Website https://moodle.umass.edu



Participation                           15%

Progressivism Paper               10%     3-4 pages.  Assigned topics.  Due 2/19

Herland Paper                        10%     3-4 pages.  Assigned topics.  Due 3/3

Midterm                                  20%     In class on 3/12

Feminist Art Assignment        5%       April 14-May 3

"Second Wave" Paper             10%     4 page paper. Assigned topics.  Due 4/14.

Oral History Paper                 10%     2 pages.  Assigned topics.  Due 4/21.

Final                                        20%         


Participation: When women were first admitted to institutions of higher learning, including the Morrill Act Land Grant institution you are now attending, they were permitted to sit in the rear of some classes to observe only as long as their presence was not ‘disruptive.' Alternatively, some women were permitted to attend single sex academies, like Mt. Holyoke College, but even these had to push the ‘boundaries' of the kinds of materials women were thought capable of study. As we will discover, women's presence in this classroom and curriculum was a hard-fought-for innovation. I value an active student presence. I have tried to structure the course to allow you to actively engage with the material in this course, and with each other.

Your participation grade has three components: (1) Attendance, (2) Contribution to class discussion, and (3) Moodle discussion participation. You are expected to attend every class meeting, to be prepared, and to contribute to our discussion. Each week you will be asked to respond to a reading question on the Moodle discussion pages for your section. Questions will be posted on Moodle in advance.  Your responses will be due by Wednesday at 9pm.  Your responses should demonstrate that you have read and thought about the class material. Each response will be graded on a two-point scale: depending on the quality of your response, you will receive two points, one point, or no points.


Laptop and Phone Policy:  As this is a history course, one of my goals is to help you think about interactions across generations. In fact, you will be conducting an interview with women who attended UMass 50 years ago.  In this class, I will emphasize direct communication through discussion (with eye contact), old-fashioned note taking, and raising your hand and asking questions.  Studies have shown that taking notes on laptops leads to poorer test performance for the note taker and for neighbors who get distracted by the computer screen.  Moreover, using a laptop can be distracting for the instructor as well as students.  When you are working on your laptop, it can be too tempting to multitask.  I like to foster a sense of conversation in class.  Learning happens best in a classroom where everyone is actively engaged with each other.  If you need or strongly prefer a laptop for taking notes or accessing readings, please come talk with me. If my office hours don’t work for you, please make an appointment.


Grade Scale

The University Grade Scale will be followed:

A = 93 and above; A- = 92-90; B+ = 89-88; B = 83-87; B- = 82-80; C+=79-78; C = 73-77; C- = 72-70; D+ = 69-69; D = 60-67; F = 59 and below.


Late Assignments

Numerous problems are lurking out there to help you miss assignment deadlines.  Computer failures, family crises, and misreading the syllabus will all send you scrambling to complete work on time.  Please plan ahead and be ready to work around such problems where possible.  Papers are due at the beginning of class.  Late papers will be docked one third of a letter grade for every day they are late.


Academic Honesty

Plagiarism is a serious violation of expected academic conduct.  Your work must be your own.  If you quote or paraphrase work from someone else, you must give credit and provide a reference for that source.  Links to guidelines on plagiarism, including the official policy on academic honesty, can be found on the following webpage: http://www.umass.edu/history/links_writing.html. The penalty for plagiarism in this class is zero credit for the assignment in question.

As a condition of continued enrollment in this course, you agree to submit all four papers to the Turnitin service for textual comparison or originality review for the detection of possible plagiarism. All submitted assignments will be included in the UMass Amherst dedicated databases of assignments at Turnitin. These databases of assignments will be used solely for the purpose of detecting possible plagiarism during the grading process and during this term and in the future. Students who do not submit their papers electronically to Turnitin will be required to submit copies of the cover page and first cited page of each source listed in the bibliography with the final paper in order to receive a grade on the assignment.



If you have a documented disability that may affect your performance in the class, please speak to me as soon as possible so that appropriate arrangements can be made.


Lecture Schedule (Subject to Change): Please read & prepare the materials assigned before the class meets.


T          1/20     Introduction


Th       1/22     Education and Opportunity at the Turn-of-the-Century

Reading: Edward Clarke, Sex in Education (1873) Excerpt. (Available on the course Moodle page)


F          1/23     Library Meeting at Special Collections and University Archives

                                    W.E.B. DuBois Library, 25th Floor 


T          1/27     Gender and Jim Crow

Reading: Patricia Schechter, "Ida B. Wells and Southern Horrors" in Women's America

Glenda Gilmore, "Forging Interracial Links in the Jim Crow South" in Women's America


Th       1/29      Beyond Wounded Knee

Reading: Zitkala-Sa, "... this semblance of civilization ..."  in Women's America

Devon Abbott (Mihesuah), "'Commendable Progress': Acculturation at the Cherokee Female Seminary," American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 3. (Summer, 1987), pp. 187-201. (Available on the course Moodle page)

Peggy Pascoe, "Ophelia Paquet, a Tillamook Indian Wife: Miscegenation laws and the Privileges of Property" in Women's America  


T          2/3       Bread and Roses: Working Women's Movements, 1890s-1914

ReadingAnnelise Orleck, "From the Russian Pale to Labor Organizing in New York City" in Women's America


Th       2/5       Beyond the Page Law: Chinese Immigrant Women

Reading: Judy Yung, "Unbound Feet: From China to San Francisco's Chinatown" in Women's America


 T         2/10     Helen Keller, Socialism, and Women’s Work

Keller Reading (in chronological order): 
* "Why I Became an IWW," New York Tribune , 1916 
* "What is the IWW?", New York Call, 1918 
* Helen Keller's FBI File


Th       2/12      Civic Motherhood and Progressive Reform

Reading: Kathryn Kish Sklar, "Florence Kelley and Women's Activism in the Progressive Era" in Women's America

Muller v. Oregon in Women's America

Rhetta Child Dorr, What Eight Million Women Want. Chapter 1. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12226/12226-h/12226-h.htm


T          2/17     No Class: Monday Schedule 


Th       2/19     From NAWSA to ERA: White Women, Suffrage and the Issue of Race

Reading: Henrietta Briggs-Wall, "Woman and Her Political Peers": Reading Race in a Suffrage Propaganda Cartoon (http://www.kshs.org/cool/coolamwm.htm)

Lucia Maxwell, "Spider Web Chart: The Socialist-Pacifist Movement in America Is an Absolutely Fundamental and Integral Part of International Socialism," The Dearborn Independent, XXIV (22 March 1924): 11.

Ellen Carol DuBois, "The Next Generation of Suffragists: Harriet Stanton Blatch and Grassroots Politics” in Women's America

Nineteenth Amendment, 1920 in Women's America


Th           2/19        Progressivism Paper Due


T              2/24     A Feminist Utopia?

Reading: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland. (available in print or online at http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/GilHerl.html)

Sterilization at Belchertown: “Curley Avers Sterilization Problem Up to Legislature,” Springfield Republican (8/1/1936), p. 1.


Th           2/26       The 1920s: Consuming Women


Vicki Ruiz, “The Flapper and the Chaparone: Mexican American Teenagers in the Southwest,” in Women’s America

Joan Brumberg, “Fasting Girls” in Women’s America

Photo Essay: Adorning the Body in Women’s America


T              3/3        A New Deal for Women?

Reading: Alice Kessler Harris, "Designing Women and Old Fools: Writing Women into Social Security Law" in Women's America

Jacqueline Jones, "Harder Times: The Great Depression" in Women's America


T             3/3         Herland Paper Due


Th           3/5     

Home Fronts during WWII  

Reading: Blanche Wiesen Cook, "Storms on Every Front: Eleanor Roosevelt and Human Rights At Home and in Europe" in Women's America

Valerie Matsumoto, "Japanese-American Women during World War II" in Women's America

Ruth Milkman, “Gender at Work: The Sexual Division of Labor in WWII,” in Women’s America


T              3/10           Civil Rights

Reading: Pauli Murray, "I had entered law school …" in Women's America

Civil Rights Act, Title VII, 1964 in Women's America

Claudette Colvin readings


Th           3/12        Midterm


T              3/17        Spring Break – No Class

Th           3/19        Spring Break – No Class


T              3/24        Domestic Ideals and the 1950s

Reading: Daniel Horowitz, "Betty Friedan and the Origins of Feminism in Cold War America" in Women's America

Betty Friedan, “The problem that has no name …”, in Women’s America


Th           3/26       From Front Porch to Back Seat


Leslie Reagan, "When Abortion was a Crime: Reproduction and the Economy in the Great Depression" in Women's America

Margaret Sanger, “I resolved that women should have knowledge of contraception …”, in Women’s America


T              3/31        HUAC, Homosexuality, and the Pressure to Conform

Reading: Estelle Freedman, "Miriam Van Waters and the Burning of Letters" in Women's America

Amy Swerdlow, “Ladies’ Day at the Capitol” in Women’s America

Susan K. Cahn, "Mannishness," Lesbianism, and Homophobia in U.S. Women's Sports" in Women's America

Alfred Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), Excerpt(Available in the Reading folder on the course Moodle page)


Th           4/2         Women's Liberation and Lesbian Feminism

Reading: Jane S. De Hart, "Second-Wave Feminists and the Dynamics of Social Change" in Women's America

Redstockings, "Male supremacy is the oldest, most basic form of domination" in Women's America

Phyllis Schalfly, "The Thoughts of one who loves life as a woman ..." in Women's America

Equal Rights Amendment, 1972 in Women's America

Lillian FadermanOdd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America, excerpt. (Available on Moodle)

Radicallesbians, “What is a lesbian?’” in Women’s America


T              4/7     Documenting the Women’s Movement (Diana Mara Henry)

Reading: www.dianamarahenry.com

1964, American Experience, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/1964/


Th           4/9   Women's Rights and Reproduction

Reading: Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 1992 in Women's America

Beth Bailey, “Prescribing the Pill,” in Women’s America


T           4/14           “Second Wave” Paper Due


T              4/14       The Fight for Reproductive Freedom (Loretta Ross)

Reading: Roe v. Wade, 1973 in Women's America

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 1992 in Women's America

Carhart v. Gonzales, 2007 in Women's America

Bill Baird Clippings File


Th           4/16             From “Free Children” to Family Values

Reading:Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972 in Women's America

Pat Mainardi, “The Politics of Housework,” in Women’s America


T              4/21  Women’s Oral History

Oral History Project Due


Th           4/23    Backlash: the 1980s and 1990s

Reading: Time Magazine: Is Feminism Dead? (Available on Moodle)

Susan Faludi, "Blame It on Feminism" in Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women (New York: Doubleday, 1991), excerpt. (Available on Moodle)(http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst203/documents/faludi.html)

Rethinking Marriage documents in Women’s America


T              4/28      What is Feminism Today?

Reading: Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgarten"What Is Feminism?" in Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future (Farrar, Straus & Giroux,2000).(http://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/genwom/whatisfem.htm)

Susan Faludi, “American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide,” Harpers (Oct. 2010).  (http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/10/0083140)



Opportunities in Women’s History in the Five Colleges


Reproductive Rights Conference at Hampshire College

Funded internships are available to Five College students. http://clpp.hampshire.edu


Sophia Smith Collection

                  The premier archive of women’s history at Smith College has amazing documents and resources on almost every facet of women’s history, including Margaret Sanger’s papers, Gloria Steinem’s papers, and thousands more.

Browse their collections online at http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/index.html


Valley Women’s History Collective

                  The VWHC is a dedicated to collecting the history of women in the Pioneer Valley.  For a list of current projects go to http://www.vwhc.org