Cover image for Women of valor : the struggle against the great depression as told in their own life stories
Women of valor : the struggle against the great depression as told in their own life stories
Sternsher, Bernard, 1925-
Publication Information:
Chicago : I.R. Dee, 1990.
Physical Description:
312 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library HQ1412 .W66 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The struggle against the Great Depression as told in excerpts from the life stories of sixteen talented and influential women who confronted the problems that affected ordinary women. A landmark collection. --Mary Banas, Booklist

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The editors of this landmark collection of original writings by 16 American women leaders of the 1930s argue that feminism continued to flourish after women won the vote and that women were not, as the traditional view holds, wholesale victims of the economic crisis. As historians Sternsher and Sealander comment in their fine introductory overview of the decade, some extraordinary women helped our country survive the Great Depression through their social activism, influence as federal government officials, and union organizing. Through the testimony, in the form of autobiographical excerpts, of the era's well-known (e.g., Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Bourke-White, Frances Perkins) and little-known feminists, we glimpse firsthand how women shaped national and local agendas in the community, the government, and the workplace to respond to pressing public needs, despite the many obstacles erected against women. Sometimes elegant, often rough-hewn, each woman's words help put into sharp perspective an increasingly mythologized era of social history by telling the other side of the story--hers. A lucid, well-organized volume; contains drawings and notes. No index. --Mary Banas

Publisher's Weekly Review

This welcome history casts light on the critical but often overlooked roles played by women in the 1930s. As the editors of the writings excerpted here observe, ``the United States could never have survived the Depression without the collective contributions of American womanhood.'' Of the 16 women represented, (among them Dorothy Day, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, ``Mother'' Bloor), the majority are city dwellers who at one time worked in New York. Most of the women are white and Protestant; their economic backgrounds are diverse and their marital histories often troubled. Each reveals the personal courage that motivated entry into public life in a time of narrowed resources and opportunities for most women. Those represented here are in the vanguard of social activism as we know it today. Both editors are history professors who teach in Ohio, Sternsher at Bowling Green State University, Sealander at Wright State University. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This collection comprises 16 excerpts from the published autobiographies of women active in public roles during the Depression. The mix includes prominent women, like Eleanor Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, Lillian Wald, and Dorothy Day, as well as less familiar contributors, such as black journalist Ellen Terry, labor organizer Lucy Randolph Mason, and socialist writer Mary Heaton Vorse. Each selection compels attention, and together they offer a sampling of the variety of work women did in government service, labor organizing, radical politics, and the arts. The general reader looking for inspirational tales from an American crucible will find this anthology valuable.-- Cyn thia Harrison, Federal Judicial Ctr., Washington, D.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Mary Kingsbury SimkhovitchLillian WaldEleanor RooseveltDorothy DayMargaret Bourke-WhilteFrances PerkinsMary AndersonHallie cFlanagaAnzia cYezierskaEllen TarryLouise ArmstrongVera Buch WeisbordElla Reeve BloorMeridel Le SueurLucy Randolph MasonMary Heaton Vorse
Introductionp. 3
Part 1. In Town and Country
"We have all suffered together. . ."p. 19
"The devastation of homes without number. . ."p. 33
"I had a point of view of my own . . ."p. 46
"It is a permanent revolution, this Catholic Worker Movement . . ."p. 67
"Here were faces engraved with the very paralysis of despair . . ."p. 95
Part 2 In the Government
"There was no special deference because I was a woman . . ."p. 121
"Many things we had to leave undone . . ."p. 134
"Did I consider the theatre a weapon? . . ."p. 151
"Tossed together in a strange fellowship of necessity . . ."p. 165
"We had to close our eyes and minds to so much . . ."p. 188
"I knew that I was in it to the end . . ."p. 202
Part 3 In the Workplace
"The road to Communism was the only road out . . ."p. 225
"I never saw anything like the militancy of those farmers . . ."p. 249
"In these terrible happenings you cannot be neutral now . . ."p. 262
"These ten- and eleven-hour days . . . burned my conscience . . ."p. 273
"People can no longer live on what they are getting . . ."p. 296
Afterwordp. 309

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