HIST 309, Spring 2017

History of Women in the United States, 1870 – Present
Spring 2017

CRN 36309
Tuesday, Thursday, 12:00 – 1:20 in Pacific Hall 123

Professor Ellen Herman
office: 335 McKenzie Hall and 280G Knight Law Center
phone: 346-3118 and 346-3699
e-mail: eherman@uoregon.edu
office hours: Tuesday, 1:30 – 3:30 in 280G Knight Law Center

Molly Richmer
e-mail: mollyr@uoregon.edu
office hours: Wednesay, 1:00 – 3:00 in 340Q McKenzie Hall

Tyler Sirman
e-mail: tsirman@uoregon.edu
office hours: Wednesday, 3:00 – 5:00 in 273A McKenzie Hall (Go to the department office, room 275 McKenzie Hall, and look for the small reading room.)


HIST 309 is the second part of a two-quarter sequence on the history of women and gender in the United States. Its starting point is that the history of women and gender is U.S. history rather than something set apart from the major developments that have shaped the nation’s past. The course examines the historical significance of gender, for men and boys as well as women and girls, and explores Americans’ lives as family members, workers, and citizens. It will survey many different dimensions of gendered lives from Reconstruction to the present. As we read and think about change and continuity over the course of modern U.S. history, we will consider the following topics in relation to women and gender: migration and immigration; industrialization; reform movements; suffrage; labor and consumption; family roles; war; sexuality and health; violence; feminism and anti-feminism. The course will emphasize diversity in the history of women and gender and profile individuals who illustrate the dynamic relationship between gender and other aspects of social identity, including race, ethnicity, class, national origin, sexual orientation, and age. The course is designed to move forward chronologically in time, but its thematic organization also means that we will sometimes move across time, compare different periods, and ask questions—and question our assumptions—about the meaning and inevitability of progress.


There will be two lectures each week. Although this course requires no separate discussion sections, you can expect to participate in regular small and large group discussions about the assigned weekly readings, typically on Thursday. Please be sure to bring the reading and your notes to class with you in whatever form (electronic or hard copy) is most convenient.


Three short essay-writing assignments. Each one will explore and/or compare required readings, especially primary sources. Each essay should be 4 pages long, double-spaced.

Essay #1, due during week 4 on April 25, 2017 by noon.

Essay #2, due during week 7 on May 16, 2017 by noon.

Essay #3, due during week 9 on May 30, 2017 by noon.

There will be a comprehensive take-home final exam, covering the major readings and themes of the course. It will be distributed on the last day of class, Thursday, June 8, 2017. It will be due on Monday, June 12, 2017 by noon.

Please notice when the written work is due and plan your time accordingly.


Required reading does not mean required buying. You can find all of the texts below on reserve in Knight Library as well as at the UO Bookstore. You are expected to complete the required reading before class. Doing so will make the lectures more understandable and interesting. It will also prepare you for the in-class discussions.

Required reading amounts to slightly more than 100 pages each week, on average. (I know because I counted.) The reading is not, however, always distributed evenly. Some weeks will have fewer pages and some will have more. Please look ahead in the syllabus and plan your time accordingly.

Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle (Bantam, 1973).

Ellen Fitzpatrick, The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency (Harvard University Press, 2016).

Danielle McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance–A New History of the Civil Rights Movements from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (Vintage, 2011).

Recommended text:
Ellen Carol DuBois and Lynn Dumenil, Through Women’s Eyes: An American History With Documents, 4th edition (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016).


History is a discipline that requires discipline, no less than music, neuroscience, or architecture. That means you should expect this course to require real time and effort. But history repays those who devote time and effort to it many times over. If you work hard in this course, you will end the term knowing something about the chronology and significance of the various topics listed on this syllabus. You can also expect the following tangible benefits, all applicable in a very wide range of occupations and careers:

  • the habit of asking critical and imaginative questions frequently
  • improved reading, writing, and analytical skills
  • the ability to recognize and evaluate primary and secondary sources, with special attention to interpreting multiple, sometimes conflicting, examples of documentary evidence
  • practice in thinking about change over time and considering how economic, political, cultural, and social forces interact to promote or inhibit change
  • facility with revising questions and rethinking answers based on empirical and especially documentary evidence

My hope is that you will also experience the pleasures of learning. History promises to make us more interesting people and better, more insightful citizens of our communities and our world.


Academic Honesty: If this course is to be a worthwhile educational experience, your work must be original. Plagiarism and other forms of cheating are very serious infractions and will not be permitted. Students who are uncertain about what plagiarism is, or who have questions about how to cite published, electronic, or other sources should feel free to consult with the instructor. You can also consult the brief guide to plagiarism and citation posted on my web site.

Classroom Etiquette: In order to create an atmosphere conducive to mutual respect and learning, please refrain from activities such as eating meals, texting, or newspaper-reading during class time. Using computers to take notes is encouraged. If you would prefer to spend the class time on Facebook, shopping, or conducting other online activities, please do that. Just don’t come to class!

The Inescapability of Offensive, Disturbing Material: Learning anything important about history means encountering people whose lives are very different than yours as well as confronting ideas, values, language, and experiences that you may find offensive and disturbing. Doing that, and learning how to engage in civil conversation about things that matter, is part of what it means to become an educated person. This course is a place to practice that kind of conversation. I encourage you to share your responses to assigned reading materials as well as to views expressed in the classroom. Read thoughtfully and listen carefully to other students. My door is always open to students who wish to discuss sensitive issues privately.

Lateness Policy: No unexcused late assignments will be accepted and no makeup exams will be given. Students who miss essay deadlines or the final exam will be given 0% for that assignment. If you anticipate difficulty meeting a deadline, please talk to the instructor or one of the GEs in advance. Medical emergencies cannot, by definition, be anticipated in advance. Accommodations will be made for these so long as documentation is available.

Accommodations: If you have a documented disability and anticipate needing accommodations in this course, please arrange to see me soon and request that the Accessible Education Center send a letter verifying your disability.

One last note: I apologize for having all these rules! Try to imagine the administrative challenges your instructor faces in managing this large course in a way that is fair to all students. Please be patient with me and with your GEs!


essays: 20% each
final exam: 40%


Week 1

April 4, 2017: Introduction to the Course


April 6, 2017: Who are women? What is gender? What is the history of women and gender about?


Hillary Clinton, “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” speech before the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, China, September 5, 1995.

Ellen Fitzpatrick, “Suffragists at the Ballot Box,” New York Times, November 8, 2016.

Irin Carmon, “What Women Really Think of Men,” New York Times, December 9, 2016.

Fox News coverage of the Women’s March on Washington, January 23, 2017. (Don’t forget to watch the video.)

Jack Moran, “Psychology professor sues UO, says she’s paid ‘substantially less’ than male colleagues,” The Register-Guard, March 22, 2017 (plus letters to the editor in response).


 Week 2

April 11, 2017: Reconstructed Lives: Asserting Female Moral Authority, 1865-1890


Reconstruction Amendments

Ellen Fitzpatrick, The Highest Glass Ceiling, prologue and chap. 1.

Peggy Pascoe, Relations of Rescue: The Search for Female Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939 (Oxford University Press, 1990), chap. 2, “The Ideology of Female Moral Authority, 1874-1900”.

recommended: DuBois and Dumenil, Through Women’s Eyes, chapters 6-7.

April 13, 2017: Profiles: Victoria Woodhull, Ida B. Wells


Victoria Woodhull, “Constitutional Equality,” 1870

Ida B. Wells, “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases,” 1892

“Strange Fruit” (poem text; Billy Holiday song performance)

Week 3

April 18, 2017: Civic Lives: The Female Dominion in American Reform, 1890-1920


Kathryn Kish Sklar, “Florence Kelley and Women’s Activism in the Progressive Era,” in Linda Kerber et al, Women’s America: Refocussing the Past, vol. 2, 8th edition (Oxford University Press, 2016), 350-360.

19th Amendment, 1920

Equal Rights Amendment

Alice Paul and Mary Van Kleeck, “Is Blanket Amendment Best Method in Equal Rights Campaign? Congressional Digest (March 1924).

recommended: DuBois and Dumenil, Through Women’s Eyes, chapter 8.

April 20, 2017: Profiles: Jane Addams, Emma Goldman


Jane Addams, “The Subjective Value of a Social Settlement,” 1892

Jane Addams, “Why Women Should Vote,” 1915

Emma Goldman, “Woman Suffrage,” 1911

Emma Goldman, “Marriage and Love,” 1911


 Week 4

April 25, 2017: Economic Lives: Labor, Culture, and Consumption, 1900-1945

essay #1 due


Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” 1892

Sadie Frowne, “Days and Dreams,” 1902

Wage Earners’ Suffrage League, Miss Rose Schneiderman Cap Maker Replies to New York Senator on Delicacy and Charm of Women, 1912

Louise de Koven Bowen, “Legal Protection in Industry,”  1914

National Consumers’ League, Constitution, Articles I and II, from NCL Papers, Library of Congress, 1914-1916 Anual Report.

Susan Ware, “Women and the Great Depression,History Now, 2009

recommended: DuBois and Dumenil, Through Women’s Eyes, chapter 9

April 27, 2017: Profiles: Rose Schneiderman, “Rosie the Riveter”


Look carefully at these images of women working on the WWII homefront:

  • J. Howard Miller’s poster, created by Westinghouse in 1942 to boost employee morale. It was seen by only a small number of workers in the midwest during the war years and was not known as “Rosie the Riveter.” It was rediscovered in the 1980s and became iconic.
  • Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post cover from May 1943 was seen by a mass audience. The subject’s lunchbox identifies her as “Rosie.”
  • Margaret Bourke-White, 24 photos of women working in Indiana steel mills in 1943, published in August 1943 in LIFE.

Week 5

May 2, 2017: Family Lives: Marriage, Motherhood, and Reproduction, 1920-1960


Jodi Vandenberg-Daves, “Twentieth-Century American Motherhood: Promises, Pitfalls, and Continuing Legacies,” The American Historian (November 2016):26-32.

Andrea Tone, “Making Room for Rubbers: Gender, Technology, and Birth Control Before the Pill,” History and Technology (2002):51-76.

“Dorothy Dunbar Bromley, “Comments on Birth Control and the Depression,” 1934

recommended: DuBois and Dumenil, Through Women’s Eyes, chapter 10.

May 4, 2017: Profiles: Carrie Buck, Margaret Sanger


Crystal Eastman, “Birth Control in the Feminist Program,” 1918

Margaret Sanger, “The Morality of Birth Control,” 1921

Margaret Sanger, “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda,” Birth Control Review, October 1921.

Buck v. Bell, 1927

Joseph Spencer DeJarnette, “Mendel’s Law: A Plea for a Better Race of Men,” early 1930s

Paul Popenoe, “The Progress of Eugenic Sterilization,” Journal of Heredity (1934):19-26.

Margaret Sanger, “Planning Your Children,” Voice of Youth, 1936

Governor John Kitzhaber, apology for Oregon’s eugenics program, December 2, 2002.

Week 6

May 9, 2017: Bodily Lives: Sexual Violence, 1940-2000


Danielle McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street, chaps. 1-5, epilogue.

May 11, 2017: Profiles: Rosa Parks, Anita Hill

During class, we will have the opportunity to speak with Danielle McGuire and ask her questions about her book.


Anita Hill, Opening Statement, House Committee on the Judiciary, Hearings on the Nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, October 11, 1991.

Week 7

May 16, 2017: Bodily Lives: Sexual Identities and Experiences, 1940-2000

essay #2 due


Joanne Meyerowitz, “Transforming Sex: Christine Jorgensen in the Postwar U.S.,” OAH Magazine of History (March 2006):16-20.

Beth Bailey, “From Front Porch to Back Seat: A History of the Date,” OAH Magazine of History (July 2004):23-26.

The Kinsey Scale

Loving v. Virginia, 1967

May 18, 2017: Profiles: Christine Jorgensen, Tee Corinne


watch and listen: Christine Jorgensen, television interview with Tom Snyder, 1982

Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle, chapters 1-10.

Tee Corinne, Cunt Coloring Book (Pearchild Productions), 1975, excerpts.


Week 8

May 23, 2017: Movement Lives: Feminisms and Antifeminisms, 1960-1980


Rosalyn Baxandall and Linda Gordon, “The Women’s Liberation Movement,” in Linda Kerber et al, Women’s America: Refocussing the Past, vol. 2, 8th edition (Oxford University Press, 2016), 705-718.

Johnnie Tillmon, “Welfare Is a Women’s Issue,” Ms. Magazine (Spring, 1972);111-116.

Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle, chapters 11-18.

recommended: DuBois and Dumenil, Through Women’s Eyes, chapter 11.

May 25, 2017: Profiles: Pauli Murray, Phyllis Schlafly


Pauli Murray, “The Negro Woman in the Quest for Equality,” November 1963, excerpts.

National Organization for Women, Statement of Purpose, 1966

Phyllis Schlafly, “What’s Wrong with Equal Rights for Women?” 1972

Week 9

May 30, 2017: Political Lives: Women, Rights, and State Power, 1940-2000

essay #3 due


Ellen Fitzpatrick, The Highest Glass Ceiling, chaps. 2-3.

June 1, 2017: Profiles: Margaret Chase Smith, Shirley Chisholm


Margaret Chase Smith, “Declaration of Conscience,” remarks about McCarthyism before the U.S. Senate, June 1, 1950.

watch and listen: Margaret Chase Smith, announcement of candidacy for Republican presidential nomination, National Women’s Press Club, January 27, 1964.

Shirley Chisholm, “Equal Rights for Women,” remarks before the U.S. House of Representatives in reintroducing the ERA, May 21, 1969.

watch and listen: Shirley Chisholm, announcement of candidacy for Democratic presidential nomination, January 25, 1972.

Week 10

June 6: Profile: Hillary Clinton


Ellen Fitzpatrick, The Highest Glass Ceiling, epilogue.

watch and listen: Hillary Clinton, announcement of candidacy for Democratic presidential nomination, April 12, 2015.

recommended: DuBois and Dumenil, Through Women’s Eyes, chapter 12.

June 8, 2017: Conclusion: The Paradox of Progress

The final take-home exam will be distributed. It is due on Monday, June 12, 2017 by noon.