April Question of the Month

Jesse George-Nichol Discussion
Welcome to our Question of the Month series, which we hope will launch robust discussions about research, pedagogy, and practice in the study of women and gender in the U.S. South.  We also hope that subscribers from all backgrounds and at all stages of their careers will share ideas, insights, questions, and resources--just click the 'Post a Reply' button to join the conversation! 

What book, historian, or historical actor inspired you to study women's history?

If you have any questions or comments about the series or have any suggestions for our next Question of the Month, please email H-SAWH editor Jesse George-Nichol (jesse.george.nichol@gmail.com).  This series will also post to H-SAWH's Twitter feed at @HNetSAWH.

4 Replies

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Joan Jensen’s Loosening the Bonds.

Responses from Twitter:

Stephanie Richmond @profrichmond said: Mary Beth Norton’s Liberty’s Daughters in undergrad. Someday I will go back and write about Jemima Warner.

Anya Jabour @anya_jabour said: Laurel Ulrich’s Midwife’s Tale

Jean Stuntz @jeanastuntz said: Catherine Clinton, the Plantation Mistress

Kritalyn Marie Shefveland @kristalynmarie said: @ProfGidlow (Liette Gidlow) inspired me as an undergrad, although it took me a long while to realize how important it was

Shannon Frystak @luvbourbon said: Paula Giddings—When and Where I Enter

Melissa Develvis @develvishist said: I think I need to write something about the effect young adult historical fiction had on my life trajectory. I INHALED every book by Carolyn Meyer alongside the Royal Diaries and Dear America books, but the Tudors were definitely my thing growing up (perhaps because Elizabeth I was one of the few women in history that made it into pop culture?)

Professor Gay Gullickson at the University of Maryland showed how most historical narratives could be challenged simply by asking, "What about the women?" I'm grateful for her insights and example while I was a student at UM in the 1980s and 1990s.

Alice Walker's In Search of our Mothers' Gardens and Carolyn Heilbrun's Writing a Woman's Life, both texts became lifesavers for me in the late 1980s and early 90s as I researched and wrote a historical biography of my maternal grandmother (a poet, Drama & English teacher), for my master's thesis in Liberal Studies. Although I had begun my research & fieldwork three years before entering a master's program, during that time, "writing a woman's life" was not mainstream (or even considered valid historical writing), and especially a Black woman's life, as I literally had to search for my grandmother's "unmarked grave" in a "Colored (segregated) cemetery, in North Carolina. Yet, I had three fabulous, open-minded, female professors as advisors who embraced my journey! That experience sparked my desire to become a historian, earning later a doctorate in History with an emphasis on Gender & Women’s Studies.