FROM BALLOTS TO BREADLINES: American Women 1920-1940 by Sarah Jane Deutsch

FROM BALLOTS TO BREADLINES: American Women 1920-1940

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Age Range: 1800 - 1848
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another excellent entry in the 11-volume Young Oxford History of Women in the United States. Deutsch, associate professor of history at Clark University and a Rhodes scholar, puts her impeccable credentials to good use in a lively synthesis of the interacting social, political, and economic forces that reshaped women's roles between the world wars. For middle-class whites, the '20s offered a chance to explore new freedoms offered by the ballot (though few were elected to office), expanding work opportunities (though ""women's jobs"" and ingrained paternalism kept their remuneration relatively low), and labor-saving devices (though a concomitant rise in housekeeping standards left them working harder than ever). For most minority women, restricted to menial labor, their economic trials in the '20s presaged their more fortunate sisters' struggles in the '30s. Deutsch uses a wealth of telling incidents and details to illuminate trends and paradoxes, contrasting experiences of different groups and showing how -- whether by striving for individuality, championing the family, or protesting inequities -- women's self images were evolving in an era when even New Deal public policies failed to reconcile the conflicting demands of work and family responsibilities. Cogent, well organized, and fascinating. The many b&w archival illustrations are well chosen but occasionally reproduced too small to be effective. Chronology; further reading (including sources); index. Also newly available: Michael Goldberg's Breaking New Ground: American Women 1800-1848 (ISBN: 0-19508202-8).

Pub Date: July 7th, 1994
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.