Joyous Greetings: The First International Women's Movement, 1830-1860

Bonnie S. Anderson, Author Oxford University Press, USA $30 (314p) ISBN 978-0-19-512623-5
In this erudite, exhaustively researched history, Brooklyn College history professor Anderson (A History of Their Own) examines how the dramatic impact of the Industrial Revolution on Western Europe and the United States ignited an international feminist movement--not just a series of discrete feminist activities in various countries, as other historians have posited. Centering her narrative on the contributions of a core group of 20 feminists, she reveals how, without the benefit of Internet or telephones, these American, English, Scottish, French, German and Swedish women shared ideas, platforms and organizing techniques to create political change throughout the U.S. and Western Europe. Intent on gaining the rights to own land, divorce, retain custody of children, maintain sexual independence, obtain birth control and receive fair payment for their work, these early feminists wanted full equality with men; for them, more than just suffrage was at stake. Iconoclasts and radicals, they saw inherent links between class struggle, racism, slavery and the oppression of women. Except for Elizabeth Cady Stanton, all of the women in the core group may be unknown to most modern-day American feminists, underscoring Anderson's contention that much feminist history has yet to be written. Among them are Fredrika Bremer, a Swedish woman who fought for control of her own earnings and ultimately changed her country's patrimonial laws, and Jeanne Deroin, a French socialist and revolutionary repeatedly imprisoned for her work for women's rights. Drawing on letters, pamphlets and other primary materials that bring these dynamic women alive, Anderson's narrative offers a keen sense of history-in-the-making and will leave readers yearning to know more. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
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