Cover image for "Belonging to the world" : women's rights and American constitutional culture
"Belonging to the world" : women's rights and American constitutional culture
VanBurkleo, Sandra F., 1944-
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xix, 409 pages ; 24 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF4758 .V36 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Belonging to the World surveys the treatment of women in American law from the nation's earliest beginnings in British North America to the present. An original work of historical synthesis, the book aims to build bridges between fields long thought to be unbridgeable -- among them, thehistory of women, American constitutional and legal history, political theory, and law. It delinates the shifting relationships between American law practice and women, both within the family and elsewhere, as it looks beyond the campagin for women's suffrage to broader zones of contest andcontroversy. Women's stories and voices are used throughout to drive home the extraordinary range and persistence of female rebellion since the 1630s -- when Anne Hutchinson and Ann Hibbens decided to oppose forces of constraint in colonial New England -- to the present era of "post-feminist"retrenchment and backlash. As the narrative documents women's ongoing battles for such rights have been governed differently from men, often out of the state's line of vision, and that much of this difference reflected the survival of a unitary monarchical "head" in the constitutional and moraleconomy of households. Excellent for use in constitutional law and women's studies classes.

Author Notes

Sandra F. VanBurkleo, Assistant Professor of History, Wayne State University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

VanBurkleo (history and law, Wayne State Univ.) presents an engaging history of women and American law that synthesizes the social, political, and legal history of women from the Colonial period through the 1990s. She addresses the changes in women's legal status as well as continued limits to their equality, while providing an original framework for understanding women's legal history. Following the American Revolution, women developed speech communities, such as women's rights conventions, to voice their criticism of oppressive laws and social practices. After the Civil War, women formed suffrage communities, seeking the ballot in order to enact social reform and gain access to the polity. In addition, VanBurkleo posits three main "settlements" in the legal status of women, showing how shifting political ideals caused women, the judiciary, and the government to reconsider women's rights as citizens. The book introduces readers to the legal history of women, but it should also provoke discussion on feminist strategies and the intransigence of American society and the judiciary in extending equal protection under the law to women. This ambitious book will be a valuable addition to history, law, and women's studies collections at all levels. C. Faulkner SUNY College at Geneseo