Women and the Historical Enterprise in America: Gender, Race and the Politics of Memory

Gender, Race, and the Politics of Memory, 1880-1945

By Julie Des Jardins

400 pp., 5.75 x 9.25, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5475-4
    Published: September 2003
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6152-3
    Published: July 2004

Gender and American Culture

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In Women and the Historical Enterprise in America, Julie Des Jardins explores American women's participation in the practice of history from the late nineteenth century through the end of World War II, a period in which history became professionalized as an increasingly masculine field of scientific inquiry. Des Jardins shows how women nevertheless transformed the profession during these years in their roles as writers, preservationists, educators, archivists, government workers, and social activists.

Des Jardins explores the work of a wide variety of women historians, both professional and amateur, popular and scholarly, conservative and radical, white and nonwhite. Although their ability to earn professional credentials and gain research access to official documents was limited by their gender (and often by their race), these historians addressed important new questions and represented social groups traditionally omitted from the historical record, such as workers, African Americans, Native Americans, and religious minorities. Assessing the historical contributions of Mary Beard, Zora Neale Hurston, Angie Debo, Mari Sandoz, Lucy Salmon, Mary McLeod Bethune, Dorothy Porter, Nellie Neilson, and many others, Des Jardins argues that women working within the broadest confines of the historical enterprise collectively brought the new perspectives of social and cultural history to the study of a multifaceted American past. In the process, they not only developed the field of women's history but also influenced the creation of our national memory in the twentieth century.

About the Author

Julie Des Jardins is assistant professor of history at Baruch College, City University of New York.
For more information about Julie Des Jardins, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"A thoroughly researched overview of women's role in shaping the interpretation of history and the historical profession during 1880-@1945."--The Historian

"This book is valuable for highlighting the work of women outside the academy in making social and cultural history possible."--American Historical Review

"A truly heroic account of an uphill battle to overcome prejudice about the very definition of history and herstory."--Choice

"Richly textured and comprehensively researched. . . . This study of the emergence of postmodern historical sensibilities is a triumph for its originality, exhaustive research, and for the insight it provides present-day historians."--Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

"Des Jardins's narrative, which traces 'the politics of memory,' continues the rich tradition of scholarship and advocacy that she so beautifully chronicles."--Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography

"Julie Des Jardins's Women and the Historical Enterprise in America: Gender, Race, and the Politics of Memory, 1880-1945 is a meticulously researched and argued book about the very nature of history and history making. . . . This study is well worth reading for both academic and public historians."--Public Historian