Voices of American Women’s History from Reconstruction to the Present: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life

Bloomsbury. (Voices of an Era). Nov. 2023. 272p. ed. by Gunnell, Kristine Ashton, ed. Tr $130. ISBN 9781440872464.
Gr 9 Up–This book offers personal insights into significant issues that have shaped American women’s lives from 1870–2020. Brief chapters follow roughly chronological order and are presented by offering an introduction, followed by points to consider while reading, first-person accounts with supporting documents, what happened after the historical moment that each chapter details, topics or activities that would inspire additional research, and short bibliographies. Of these last few items, the “Ask Yourself” questions and the “Topics and Activities to Consider” are the most unique to this title and make it stand out among other women’s history reference books for this age group. The sidebars that provide more details or definitions of terms used within the text are helpful, especially for younger readers. Photographs are used sparingly but effectively. This reference book discusses a range of topics, such as race, political ideologies, culture, religion, class, and sexual identity. Compared to other works available, this text provides more breadth of coverage, including Chinese immigration, plural marriage, and lesbianism in the military, in addition to the more expected subjects of women’s suffrage and birth control. While a few of the resources listed in the “Further Reading” sections of each chapter are available online, most are print resources, and some are from the last century.
VERDICT A reference title that provides insight into a multitude of factors pertinent to American women’s history from the late 19th century to today. Recommended.

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