Women’s stories are noticeably absent from the master narrative of the Populist and Progressive movements, where their struggle for civil rights was more evident in the Midwest than any other region in the country. This collection of eleven biographical essays highlights women leaders in the Midwest who challenged gender, racial, class, and ethnic boundaries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Not only were these midwestern women powerful orators and active leaders, they were influential in shaping the culture in their communities.
These pioneering women include Amanda Berry Smith and Carry Nation who helped lay the groundwork for the Progressive Era, Esther Twente who helped develop higher education, Elfrieda von Rohr, Mary Sibley, and Linda Slaughter whose religious affiliations gave them leadership opportunities for political and social influence, Frances Dana Gage who contributed to women’s rights and temperance issues, Marietta Bones who championed the women’s suffrage movement, Alice Moore French who was American War Mothers founder and first president, socialist Genora Dollinger who spoke out for quality of life and rights in organizing a strike at a General Motors plant, and Harriett Friedman Woods who held various state political offices and a national office.
The biographical essays in this collection provide much new information about women political and social reformers in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Midwest. Feminist Frontiers is a welcome addition to the literature of midwestern history and is valuable reading for anyone interested in the study of U.S. women’s history at the state, local, and regional levels.
—Kathy Jellison, Ohio University
Frances Dana Gage
“Turning the World Upside Down”: Jeffrey E. Smith
Genteel Reformer: Mary Ellen Rowe
Amanda Berry Smith
Pioneer for African American Child Care: Marcia Chatelaine
Linda Warfel Slaughter
Cultural Education in North Dakota: Barbara Handy-Marchello
Personality and Politics in the South Dakota Suffrage Movement: Nancy Tystad Koupal
The Kansas Cyclone: Patricia Ashman
Indiana War Mothers: From World War I “Kitchen Soldiers” to Postwar Immigrant Reformers: Elizabeth Cafer du Plessis
Efrieda von Rohr Sauer
A Life Reinterpreted: Carol Piper Heming
Community Builder: Maureen Wilt
A Revolutionary from Michigan: Carlton Jackson
Harriett Friedman Woods
From Midwest Politics to National Power: Yvonne J. Johnson and Shari Bax
This well-researched and nicely referenced scholarly work is exceptionally readable, making it appropriate for both lay and academic readers. In particular, its chronological organization makes it an entirely appropriate companion for undergraduate survey classes focusing on the history either of American women or of the Midwest. Its content would…provoke a critical reevaluation of the accepted narrative of American feminism.
—South Dakota History, Summer 2010
Feminist Frontiers: Women Who Shaped the Midwest is an anthology of eleven biographical essays by learned authors, describing the lives of notable pioneering women and the foundation they laid for the societal reforms of the progressive movement. From Alice Moore French, founder of American War Mothers, to Frances Dana Gage and her work for the causes of women's rights and temperance, to socialist Genoa Dollinger who held firm beliefs about human rights and organized a strike at a General Motors plant, Feminist Frontiers offers an excellent series of character portraits and is an invaluable supplement to college library women's history and women's studies shelves.
—Midwest Book Review
This volume introduces many lesser-known women into the historical landscape of the Midwest, and Johnson’s call for more research on how women shaped the social, political, and educational culture of the region is well merited.
—Indiana Magazine of History, Sept. 2010
This [volume] gives students an appreciation for the diversity of roles women created for themselves in a region with a reputation for religious and social conservatism. Recommended. Undergraduate and general collections.
—CHOICE, December 2010, Vol. 48 No. 04