THE MAJORITY FINDS ITS PAST: Placing Women in History by Gerda Lerner
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THE MAJORITY FINDS ITS PAST: Placing Women in History

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Gerda Lerner (History, Women's Studies; Sarah Lawrence) started as a relatively untrained researcher outside academe, became a middle-aged graduate student with an ""exotic specialty,"" is now a feminist historian working closely with other scholars. As the opening essay in this collection reveals, her own professional growth thus dovetails with the growth of women's history as a scholarly field. Because of the comparative youth of the field and its struggle for legitimacy, Lerner has repeatedly had to demonstrate that solid historical materials are available and can be used effectively to answer such questions as whether or not women have a history (or only a pre-history), and whether they suffer common oppression or are divided by race and class. Lerner's interest in black women (Black Woman in White America, 1972) is reflected by three essays which, while finding some correspondences--as in the community-building work shared by women of both races--uncovers ""more evidence of tension than of sisterhood."" Another article describes the broad, unacknowledged political work of 19th-century women, and concludes that their apparent invisibility is due to historians' habit of looking for them in typically male activities rather than searching out uniquely female patterns of participation. Concluding articles broaden the perspective by analyzing the development of a historiography and providing an agenda for leading women from their pre-history to the uncovering of their past, to its synthesis with traditional history and the eventual formulation of ""universal history""--""a history in which men and women will have equal significance."" A stimulating report on work in progress, both collective and individual.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1979
ISBN: 0195028996
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press