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Women's Voting Rights: The 5 Books All Historians Should Read

By    |   Sunday, 13 December 2015 12:35 AM

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, guaranteed women’s right to vote. Here are five books that all women’s suffrage historians should read.

1. "The Feminine Mystique," by Betty Friedan
“Friedan’s 1963 investigation into ... the unrepentant unhappiness she found among housewives – is one of the most influential books of the 20th century, and is generally credited with being the catalyst for the rise of second-wave feminism in the United States,” according to The Atlantic.

2. "A Room of One’s Own," by Virginia Woolf
Woolf’s work has been called “an extended essay that explores women’s relationship to writing – to just about anyone. The Woolf devotees ... happen to be almost exclusively men, so this might be a particularly good place to start for literary boys curious about feminism,” The Atlantic said.

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3. "Sexual Politics," by Kate Millett
“For the staunchly literary-minded ... Kate Millett’s 1970 book (is) widely heralded as the very first work of ‘academic feminist literary criticism,’ which started as her doctoral dissertation. Though the book stirred up as much denunciation as it did praise, it’s an essential lens (one of many) for looking at the Western canon,” The Atlantic said.

4. "In Her Own Right," by Elisabeth Griffith
According to The Wall Street Journal: “Elizabeth Griffith details (Elizabeth Cady) Stanton's long, fascinating life and close collaboration with fellow women's-rights campaigner Susan B. Anthony ... (the novel) examines the attributes as well as the shortcomings of a woman who was uncompromising in her pursuit of radical demands, not just for the right to vote but also for divorce-law reform, marital property rights and equal wages. Toward the end of her life, Stanton produced the two-volume ‘Woman's Bible,’ which offered commentaries on the Good Book's negative attitude toward women ... Griffith reestablishes Stanton's vital role among early suffragists – she was, after all, one of the principal organizers in 1848 of the groundbreaking Seneca Falls Convention, a catalyst for much that followed.”

5. "Century of Struggle," by Eleanor Flexner
“Though now half a century old and succeeded by more modern scholarship, Eleanor Flexner's study of the prolonged fight for women's voting rights remains the best comprehensive overview," The Wall Street Journal said. "Flexner covers the major issues and the major reformers – movement leaders as well as women who organized unions, broke into previously men-only professions and challenged laws that restricted women's opportunities. The last third of ‘Century of Struggle’ examines the final push for a constitutional amendment in the early 1900s as a new generation of leaders, often at odds with one another, fought to secure the vote and to convince lawmakers that theirs was a just cause.”

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The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, guaranteed women's right to vote. Here are five books that all women's suffrage historians should read.
womens voting rights, books
Sunday, 13 December 2015 12:35 AM
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