December 2005

Editors : Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin
Published by Alexander Street Press and the
Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender, SUNY Binghamton

In This Issue

In "How Did the First Jewish Women's Movement Draw on Progressive Women's Activism and Jewish Traditions, 1893-1936?" Joyce Antler, Nina Schwartz and Claire B. Uziel explore the first Jewish women's movement in the United States. Those who composed the movement were mostly middle- and upper-class women who had emigrated from Germany and Central Europe. The Great Migration of 1881 was the primary factor that energized Jewish women to begin an organized fight for social reform. Many of the affluent, German Jewish "uptown" women who had immigrated during the first wave committed themselves to helping these immigrants begin to make a life for themselves in America. Modeling themselves to a large extent on the American settlement-house movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the actions of secular Progressive reformers, the leaders of this first Jewish women's movement identified both with American Progressivism and Judaic traditions. The women who participated in the movement worked in many ways to improve the lives of the poor. As the movement grew, its focus shifted, from an early emphasis on "charity and religion," to broad concerns for immigrants' Americanization, white slave traffic, peace and arbitration, as well as protection for women's and children's health and welfare.

In the second half of the twentieth century, thousands of American Catholic women participated in the movement for women's rights and women's liberation. By the 1970s, many of these feminist women of faith chose to direct their activism through specifically Catholic feminist organizations which together formed a distinctive Catholic feminist movement in the United States. In "How Did Catholic Women Participate in the Rebirth of American Feminism?" Mary Henold examines historical documents from this movement. In addition to illustrating the unique contributions of Catholic feminists to "second-wave" feminism, the documents reveal women's efforts to reconcile dual commitments to feminist ideals and Catholic faith tradition.

News from the Archives has become a regular feature of the Women and Social Movements website. This section provides news about collections and projects of interest from archives and repositories. If you are affiliated with an archive or repository and would like to submit an announcement that you feel would be of interest to our readers, please contact the editor of the new section, Tanya Zanish-Belcher , Associate Professor and Head of the Special Collections Department and University Archives at Iowa State University.

With this quarterly issue of the database, we continue to publish full-text sources related to the history of the women's organizations in the early twentieth century. Two of these titles--those by Wood and Palmer--focus on the history of the national or state organizations within the General Federation of Women's Clubs. The third title explores the founding of the first major national organization of Jewish women, the National Council of Jewish Women. The fourth book examines the history of the Order of the Pythian Sisters, a secret women's society that served as an auxiliary of the Knights of Pythias. Our final title is a scholarly work, a special issue of the Annals of the American Academic of Political and Social Science, published in 1914 and devoted to "Women in Public Life". The works total more than 1,600 pages and bring our total pages of full-text sources in the database to more than 23,000. With our March 2006 issue we will pass the 25,000 page mark and will begin a new chapter in our publication effort. We will publish a quarter century of the Minutes of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union for the period 1874-1898. We anticipate that the greater availability of this important published primary source and its systematic indexing will make a great contribution to Women's History scholarship. If you are interested in recommending similar sources that we might publish online in the future, please feel free to write to us and let us know of some possibilities.


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