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Feminist Chronicles, 1953-1993

by Toni Carabillo

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From Library Journal
The authors of this reference work have been activists in the National Organization for Woman (NOW) since its inception; much of the scope of the book focuses on that organization. Part 1 provides an overview of the founding of NOW and its subsequent work. Part 2, which forms the bulk of the source, is a chronology of feminist activity beginning in 1953 (the year that Simone de Beauvoir published The Second Sex ). In timetable format, summaries are provided for each year on topics such as major events, education, economics, media, religion, politics, and law. Entries on the backlash to the women's movement are included as well. Part 3 offers reprints of important NOW documents. This source complements and updates Almanac of American Women in the 20th Century ( LJ 8/87). The chronology section is the most useful for reference collections. Recommended for libraries that need a good outline of the recent women's movement in the United States.
- Kathryn Moore Crowe, Jackson Lib., Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

In their Introduction to Women's Studies: A Guide to Information Sources (McFarland, 1990), authors Sarah Carter and Maureen Ritchie note that women's studies has been "the success story in publishing over the last decade." However, the major reference publishers have, to date, failed to produce anything comparable to the work at hand.

Ably compiled by authors who are feminist activists, this useful book documents the feminist movement in the U.S. from 1953 to 1993. Chronological charts, divided into three major sections--events, issues, and backlash--form the heart of the book. Under the events column are listed major events that constituted the context in which the feminist movement operated. Issues are "essentially among those that the President's Commission on the Status of Women first explored and the founders of NOW specifically chose to pursue." Examples include lifestyles, economic issues, religious issues, the media, and politics. The deaths of prominent women are also noted here. The backlash sections describe the activities of the opposition to the movement. Very small black-and-white photographs (usually portraits) are found on every page. The header for each chart notes year, U.S. president, and NOW president. The charts conclude with 1992; an epilogue covers 1993. This unique format enables the reader to track the main events of the feminist movement and understand their historical significance.

While the charts make for fascinating browsing, Chronicles also includes the full text of 23 early NOW documents, including its ERA Position Paper and the Homemakers' Bill of Rights. A short bibliography, author biographies, and a detailed index conclude the book.

Chronicles has a limited perspective, using NOW as the "organizing focal point of the movement." Readers interested in a more multifaceted history of the feminist movement will need to look elsewhere. Despite this limitation, this work will be a valuable addition to any public or academic library and should be considered essential to libraries supporting undergraduate or graduate programs in women's studies or American history.



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