"Eleanor Roosevelt never wanted her husband to run for president. When he won, she . . . went on a national tour to crusade on behalf of women. She wrote a regular newspaper column. She became a champion of women's rights and of civil rights. And she decided to write a book."--Jill Lepore, from the Introduction
"Women, whether subtly or vociferously, have always been a tremendous power in the destiny of the world," Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in It's Up to the Women, her book of advice to women of all ages on every aspect of life. Written at the height of the Great Depression, she called on women particularly to do their part--cutting costs where needed, spending reasonably, and taking personal responsibility for keeping the economy going.
Whether it's the recommendation that working women take time for themselves in order to fully enjoy time spent with their families, recipes for cheap but wholesome home-cooked meals, or America's obligation to women as they take a leading role in the new social order, many of the opinions expressed here are as fresh as if they were written today.
By Jill Filipovic
What do women want? It's a time-old question, but if you head out into America and talk to women one-on-one, as Jill Filipovic has done, you discover that what they want is happiness. Despite what recent books, articles, or tv shows would have you believe, real women are less concerned about "having it all," "leaning in," or "settling for 'Mr. Good Enough.'" Unsurprisingly, the way to achieve happiness is as varied as the realities they face.
In The H Spot, Filipovic argues that the main obstacle standing in between women and happiness is a rigged system. In this world of unfinished feminism, men have long been able to "have it all" because of free female labor, while the bar of achievement for women has gotten higher - never before have we had to work so much at every level (whether it's to be an accomplished white-collar employee or just make ends meet), and never before have the requirements for being a "good mother" been so extreme. If our laws and policies made women's happiness and fulfillment a goal in and of itself, she explains, so many contentious issues would be resolved with one fell swoop-from women's health to equal pay.
Filipovic illustrates this argument by asking women across America what it is they need, Filipovic provides an outline for a feminist movement we all need: one that provides a blueprint for how policy, laws and society can deliver on the promise of the pursuit of happiness for all.
By Miriam Cohen
Julia Lathrop was a social servant, government activist, and social scientist who expanded notions of women's proper roles in public life during the early 1900s. Appointed as chief of the U.S. Children's Bureau, created in 1912 to promote child welfare, she was the first woman to head a United States federal agency. Throughout her life, Lathrop challenged the social norms of the time and became instrumental in shaping Progressive reform. She began her career at Hull House in Chicago, the nation's most famous social settlement, where she worked to improve public and private welfare for poor people, helped establish America's first juvenile court, and pushed for immigrant rights. Lathrop was also co-founder of one of America's first schools of social work. Later in life she became a leader in the League of Women Voters and an advisor on child welfare to the League of Nations.
Following Lathrop's life from her childhood and college education through her social service and government work, this book gives an overview of her enduring contribution to progressive politics, women's employment, and women's education. It also offers a look at how one influential woman worked within the bounds of traditional conventions about gender, race, and class, and also pushed against them.
About the Lives of American Women series: Selected and edited by renowned women's historian Carol Berkin, these brief biographies are designed for use in undergraduate courses. Rather than a comprehensive approach, each biography focuses instead on a particular aspect of a woman's life that is emblematic of her time, or which made her a pivotal figure in the era. The emphasis is on a good read,” featuring accessible writing and compelling narratives, without sacrificing sound scholarship and academic integrity. Primary sources at the end of each biography reveal the subject's perspective in her own words. Study questions and an annotated bibliography support the student reader.