Portal:Women's history

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Introduction

Women's history is the study of the role that women have played in history and the methods required to do so. It includes the study of the history of the growth of woman's rights throughout recorded history, personal achievement over a period of time, the examination of individual and groups of women of historical significance, and the effect that historical events have had on women. Inherent in the study of women's history is the belief that more traditional recordings of history have minimized or ignored the contributions of women to different fields and the effect that historical events had on women as a whole; in this respect, women's history is often a form of historical revisionism, seeking to challenge or expand the traditional historical consensus.

The main centers of scholarship have been the United States and Britain, where second-wave feminist historians, influenced by the new approaches promoted by social history, led the way. As activists in women's liberation, discussing and analyzing the oppression and inequalities they experienced as women, they believed it imperative to learn about the lives of their fore mothers—and found very little scholarship in print. History was written mainly by men and about men's activities in the public sphere especially in Africa—war, politics, diplomacy and administration. Women are usually excluded and, when mentioned, are usually portrayed in sex-stereotypical roles such as wives, mothers, daughters, and mistresses. The study of history is value-laden in regard to what is considered historically "worthy." Other aspects of this area of study is the differences in women's lives caused by race, economic status, social status, and various other aspects of society.

Selected article

Margaret Sanger leaving a courthouse
in New York in 1917

The birth control movement in the United States was a social reform campaign from 1914 to around 1945 that aimed to increase the availability of contraception in the U.S. through education and legalization. The movement began in 1914 when a group of political radicals in New York City, led by Emma Goldman, Mary Dennett, and Margaret Sanger, became concerned about the hardships that childbirth and self-induced abortions brought to low-income women. Sanger, in particular, simultaneously sought to connect birth control to the organized eugenics movement, regularly appealing to the authority of eugenic scientists Karl Pearson, Charles Davenport, and others in her Birth Control Review from the early 1920s. Such figures sought to prevent population segments they deemed genetically 'undesirable' from reproducing. While seeking legitimacy for the birth control movement partly through the approval of organized eugenics, Sanger and other activists also worked on the political front. Since contraception was considered to be obscene at the time, the activists targeted the Comstock laws, which prohibited distribution of any "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail. Hoping to provoke a favorable legal decision, Sanger deliberately broke the law by distributing The Woman Rebel, a newsletter containing a discussion of contraception. In 1916, Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, but the clinic was immediately shut down by police, and Sanger was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Selected biography

Harriet Tubman. Photograph by H. B. Lindsley.

Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross; c. 1822 – March 10, 1913) was an American abolitionist, humanitarian, and an armed scout and spy for the United States Army during the American Civil War. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved families and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped abolitionist John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era was an active participant in the struggle for women's suffrage.

Born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman was beaten and whipped by her various masters as a child. Early in life, she suffered a traumatic head wound when an irate slave owner threw a heavy metal weight intending to hit another slave and hit her instead. The injury caused dizziness, pain, and spells of hypersomnia, which occurred throughout her life. She was a devout Christian and experienced strange visions and vivid dreams, which she ascribed to premonitions from God.

In 1849, Tubman escaped to Philadelphia, then immediately returned to Maryland to rescue her family. Slowly, one group at a time, she brought relatives with her out of the state, and eventually guided dozens of other slaves to freedom. Traveling by night and in extreme secrecy, Tubman (or "Moses", as she was called) "never lost a passenger". After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed, she helped guide fugitives farther north into British North America, and helped newly freed slaves find work.

When the Civil War began, Tubman worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the raid at Combahee Ferry, which liberated more than 700 slaves. After the war, she retired to the family home on property she had purchased in 1859 in Auburn, New York, where she cared for her aging parents. She was active in the women's suffrage movement until illness overtook her and she had to be admitted to a home for elderly African Americans that she had helped to establish years earlier. After she died in 1913, she became an icon of American courage and freedom. On April 20, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a plan for Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson as the portrait gracing the $20 bill.

Selected image

Patsy Mink, 2009
Credit: United States Congress

Patsy Mink (1927 – 2002) was an American politician from the U.S. state of Hawaii. Mink was a third generation Japanese American and member of the Democratic Party. She also was the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. Mink was the first non-white woman and the first Asian American woman elected to Congress.

In this month...

In the news

  • November 25: Pakistani female fighter pilot Marium Mukhtiar dies in jet crash
  • March 28: Planned Parenthood asks Arizona federal judge for injunction
  • February 6: Sandra Fluke declares candidacy for California State Senate
  • September 29: Finnish female politicians highlighted by World Bank's 2012 gender report
  • September 27: Fiji makes progress on gender roles according to 2012 Report on Gender Equality and Development
More current events...
Current events on Wikinews

Selected quote

Rosa Parks receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton

People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.
Rosa Parks

Did you know?

  • ... that The Lily newspaper was "published by a committee of ladies" in 1849? (March 17, 2014)

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