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Library Journal Review
Both of these new titles provide a biographical and political base for dealing with the feminist and political aspects of the women's suffrage movement in the United States, but they examine different time periods and regions. Matthews (Toward a New Society; American Thought and Culture 1800-1830, Macmillan, 1990) looks at the roots of the Northern women's suffrage crusade in the reform movements of the liberal, religious middle class. Her focus is the feminist activity of the movement rather than the social history of women's lives. She covers no new ground, and her decision to list sources at the end, rather than to provide notes, makes tracing her ideas difficult. Still, she provides a good summary for the casual reader and a textbook for history students. In contrast, Green (history, Sweet Briar Coll.) concentrates on the feminist politics of the Southern suffragist (primarily antisuffragist) movement of the postbellum South. Through her examination of over 800 middle-class women, both from the rank-and-file as well as those in leadership roles, Green presents a more holistic picture of women's rights in the region. She looks at the effects of urbanization, race, and states rights on the organization and activities on both sides of the suffrage question. The result is a fresh look at the Southern women's suffrage question, which had previously been considered only on a state-by-state basis and through the eyes of movement leaders. Highly recommended.Jenny Presnell, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, Ohio (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Southern states gave women's suffrage the least support of any region, challenging historians to explain why. In this most comprehensive study of southern women's suffrage to date, Green (Sweet Briar College) compares antisuffrage and prosuffrage activists throughout the South to contradict the argument (made most persuasively by Marjorie Sprull Wheeler in New Women of the New South, CH, Jan'94) that the desire to have white women outvote black males was central to the suffrage cause. Using elementary statistical techniques, Green argues that suffragists were part of a new urban middle class interested in progressive causes and opposed to upper-class, established elites in plantation agriculture and industry who denied women's right to vote. She identifies women, such as Kate Gordon, who preferred suffrage to be granted by states, as a third force distinct from both antis and suffragists in the suffrage wars. Provocative and imaginative, well researched and argued, this monograph belongs in undergraduate and graduate libraries because of its contributions in women's and southern history. P. F. Field; Ohio University