Saturday, October 18, 2014

Books: A History of Women in Law and Lawmaking in Europe

Eva Schandevyl (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium), ed., Women in Law and Lawmaking in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Europe (Sept. 2014)

Exploring the relationship between gender and law in Europe from the nineteenth century to present, this collection examines the recent feminisation of justice, its historical beginnings and the impact of gendered constructions on jurisprudence. It looks at what influenced the breakthrough of women in the judicial world and what gender factors determine the position of women at the various levels of the legal system.


Every chapter in this book addresses these issues either from the point of view of women's legal history, or from that of gendered legal cultures. With contributions from scholars with expertise in the major regions of Europe, this book demonstrates a commitment to a methodological framework that is sensitive to the intersection of gender theory, legal studies and public policy, and that is based on historical methodologies. As such the collection offers a valuable contribution both to women's history research, and the wider development of European legal history.

October 18, 2014 in Books, International, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thomas on Divorce History Through a Gendered Lens

Tomorrow, I am presenting as part ofthe University of Akron's Rethinking Gender series." The title of my talk is "Understanding Divorce Law Historically Through the Lens of Gender."  It is based on a chapter of my book project, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Law now nearing completion.

One running theme of the book is appreciating Stanton as a lay lawyer - a person trained by her father, who was a judge and lawyer who apprenticed young lawyers in their home; a person analytically inclined to "think like a lawyer;" who understood the normative function of the law; and who advocated for legislative reform and legal change.  This legal understanding, I think, offers insights for us in both understanding her work in the nineteenth-century, and also incorporating its relevance today.  See Tracy A. Thomas, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Notion of a Legal Class of Gender, in Feminist Legal History (Thomas & Boisseau, eds. NYUP 2011).

On divorce, Stanton was a vocal and persistent advocate for no-fault, or "easy divorce."  But more importantly from my perspective is that she framed divorce as a woman's issue.  Divorce was both a right and a remedy for woman's wrongs. Her life-long commitment to divorce reform attacked the problem of restrictive marriages, which confined women into legal obscurity under coverture, patriarchal social expectations, and sometimes domestic abuse. 

Her framework of gender approached the divorce issue from the three classic feminist approaches: equality, difference, and systemic.  As to formal equality, Stanton challenged the double moral standard that supported the law of divorce, for example, allowing divorce for the wife's adultery, but requiring "aggravated" adultery of adultery plus some additional fault like cruelty, dessertion, or sodomy by the husband.  Her equality theories conceptualized divorce as a individual right, granting women autonomy and psychological freedom to control their own personal relations. 

As to difference, Stanton argued that fault grounds for divorce should be expanded to address the different concerns of women.  The law was too focused on grounds based on sexual privilege, as in adultery and failure to consummate.  Instead, it needed to include grounds most relevant to women, cruelty and desertion. A cruelty divorce mechanism connected to Stanton's work on temperance and against domestic violence, arguing the necessity of releasing and protecting women and children in abusive relationships.  Desertion was important for women because they needed a court to restore their legal rights as a single woman to contract, hold property, earn income, and have custody of their children.  Men accomplished desertion by practice, simply walking away, often headed West, retaining their legal identity, all property rights, and the ability to earn a livelihood and thus in little need of the courts. 

These specific arguments as to divorce grounds though were part of Stanton's much bigger and radical challenge to the system of marriage itself. She conceptualized marriage not as a covenant or status, but as a contract.  And as a contract between two fully equal partners.  And as a contract like any other employment or commercial contract that could be modified or terminated at the will of the parties. This gave her the legal foundation to justify no-fault divorce, though it didn't mollify the moral critics.  Despite opposition from most other feminist reformers, Stanton continued to advocate for free access to divorce, fighting against the backlash and growing conservativism at the end of the century.  See Tracy A. Thomas, Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the Federal Marriage Amendment, 22 Const. Comment. 137 (2005).


October 14, 2014 in Family, Gender, Legal History, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

New Books: Florence Kelley and Worker Protection Legislation

Leigh Bienen, Florence Kelley and the Children: Factory Inspector in 1890s Chicago (2014)

A new book by a Northwestern University School of Law scholar aims to fill in the gaps in all that has been written about Florence Kelley—focusing particularly on the somewhat neglected decade the late 19th-century advocate for women and children spent in Chicago.  Though Kelley is the subject of three biographies and an autobiography, author Leigh Bienen, a senior lecturer at the School of Law, concluded during her extensive research on the legal and social activist that too little had been written about her efforts to improve working conditions in Chicago, where starving women and children labored long hours in unsafe conditions. 

 

In an interesting twist, Bienen parallels her own life in Chicago with Kelley’s in the new book. She braids together three narratives, the story of Kelley’s life as a mother and reformer in the tumult of 1890s Chicago, the story of her (Bienen’s) own arrival in Chicago a century later and her life and work here, as well as a narrative of the extraordinary events leading to the abolition of capital punishment in Illinois.

 

Tireless in her efforts to improve working conditions and eradicate child labor, Kelley was fleeing an abusive husband when she came to Chicago from New York in the 1890s and took up residence with her children at Hull-House, the legendary settlement house co-founded by Jane Addams. Although strapped for funds, Kelley did the work she set out to do, held several government jobs, and, along with others, persuaded the public that this was the time to do something about the conditions in the tenements. She was named the first chief factory inspector for the state of Illinois. Gov. Peter Altgeld’s 1893 appointment of a woman to such an important position was nearly unprecedented.    Kelley implemented a factory inspection law adopted by the Illinois legislature in 1893, limiting women’s working hours to eight per day.

 

The new book grew out of an interactive website based on Bienen’s research on Kelley that was launched in 2008 (http://florencekelley.northwestern.edu). “I am interested in her life, her family life, her children and how she managed to be both a public figure and a mother,” Bienen said.  “None of the biographies adequately deal with her decade in Chicago, perhaps because they were written by Easterners,” Bienen said. “None, in my opinion, conveyed the richness of the historical context of the effort to reform conditions in city sweatshops and tenements and the actions and personalities of public figures such as Florence Kelley and Jane Addams.”

 

Also of particular interest to Bienen, Kelley earned a law degree from Northwestern in 1895 -- during a time when college graduate education was highly uncommon for women. Kelley was also known for combining fiery stylized prose with well-researched findings in her advocacy and investigations. ***

 

Extensive litigation challenging Kelley’s work and the new factory inspection law resulted in the Illinois Supreme Court declaring parts of the law unconstitutional in 1895. However, Kelley and her colleagues triumphed years later when the U.S. Supreme Court, at the urging of Louis Brandeis, upheld such statutes. Kelley and her colleague Josephine Goldmark invented the Brandeis Brief for that case. 

September 20, 2014 in Books, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gender and Justice Programs at AALS 2015

Saturday, January 3

 Co-Sponsored Program, Liberty-Equality:  Gender, Sexuality, and Reproduction—Griswold v. Connecticut Then and Now, 8:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Presented by the Section on Constitutional Law and co-sponsored by the Sections on Women in Legal Education and Legal History,  this program marks the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the ground-breaking Supreme Court decision recognizing a right to privacy that protected individuals in making decisions about the use of contraceptives from the reach of state criminal law, but spoke implicitly to the constitutional underpinnings of an individual’s rights or interests in intimacy, marriage, procreation, sexuality, and sexual conduct.  Panelists will place the case in historical context, and explore the development of the Griswold doctrine, as well as its implications for current constitutional controversies over access to reproductive health care, marriage, sexuality and sexual conduct.

 

Speakers

Speaker: Cary C. Franklin, The University of Texas School of Law

Co-Moderator: M. Isabel Medina, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Speaker: Melissa E. Murray, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Speaker: Doug NeJaime, University of California, Irvine School of Law

Speaker: Neil S. Siegel, Duke University School of Law

Co-Moderator Speaker: Reva B. Siegel, Yale Law School

 

Section on Women in Legal Education Luncheon, 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

 We are pleased to announce that this luncheon honors both Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is scheduled to attend and for whom the Section on Women in Legal Education Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award is named, and this year’s Award recipient, [I’ll fill this in before I send and after I talk with her].  Join us to spend some time with and hear from our honorees.

 

 Joint Program:  Engendering Equality:  A Conversation with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States

and New Voices in Legal History, 1:30 – 3:15 p.m. 

This Section on Legal History and Women in Legal Education Joint Program, co-sponsored by the Section on Constitutional Law,explores the history of women’s equality and the legacy of Justice Ginsburg.  The first portion of the program will, through a conversation between Justice Ginsburg and Wendy Williams, consider the ideas and strategies shaping Justice Ginsburg’s efforts as an advocate, an academic, and a Justice to achieve equal citizenship for women.  

The second portion of the program will present a panel of new voices in Women’s Legal History who study the complex and often contradictory ways in which social, political, and legal actors have appealed to gender and equality in movements of the past, and suggest how such studies might engender/inform equality’s future.

Speakers

Speaker: Deborah Dinner, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law

Speaker: Lynda Dodd,  City College of New York, Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Speaker: The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court of the United States

Co-Moderator: Reva B. Siegel, Yale Law School

Co-Moderator: Tracy A. Thomas, University of Akron, C. Blake McDowell Law Center

Speaker: Wendy W. Williams, Georgetown University Law Center

Speaker: Mary Ziegler, Florida State University College of Law

 

Sunday, January 4

AALS Crosscutting Program:  The More Things Change . . . Exploring Solutions to Persisting Discrimination in Legal Academia, 2:00 – 3:45 p.m.

This program, spearheaded by WILE Member Meera Deo, draws from empirical data, legal research, litigation strategy, and personal experience to both further conversations about the persistence of discrimination in the legal academy and activate strategies for addressing ongoing structural and individual barriers. Intersectional bias compounds many of these challenges, which range from the discriminatory actions of colleagues and students, to the marginalization of particular subject areas in the curriculum, to structural hierarchies in the profession.

By creating an avenue for direct personal exchange regarding these topics, the program seeks to build community between like-minded individuals who are diverse across characteristics of race, gender, class, teaching status, institution, and age. The focus of the participants is to share best practices and explore new approaches for overcoming ongoing discrimination, with the hope that these strategies may be more broadly employed.

The program follows an innovative format. After short presentations by three speakers, the program transitions to an “open microphone” session of speakers (selected in advance from a “call for remarks”) including those who are untenured, women of color, allies to marginalized faculty, clinical, legal writing and library faculty, and others with perspectives that may differ from the majority. The final thirty minutes are reserved for questions and conversation.

Speakers

Moderator and Commentator: Marina Angel, Temple University, James E. Beasley School of Law

Speaker: Meera Deo, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Speaker: Angela P. Harris, University of California at Davis School of Law

Speaker: Melissa Hart, University of Colorado School of Law

September 20, 2014 in Conferences, Education, Law schools, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

2015 AALS Women in Legal Education Program Preview

Friday, January 2nd

 WILE Business Meeting (and Networking Event), 6:30-7:30 p.m. 

 (Note:  This is a change in date and time from the printed program you likely received last month.)

 Come to the WILE Business Meeting to learn more about how to get involved with WILE and to network with your colleagues from around the country.  Chair-Elect Wendy Greene, Cumberland Law, is working to make this a fun networking event!

 Saturday, January 3

 Co-Sponsored Program, Liberty-Equality:  Gender, Sexuality, and Reproduction—Griswold v. Connecticut Then and Now, 8:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. 

Presented by the Section on Constitutional Law and co-sponsored by the Sections on Women in Legal Education and Legal History,  this program marks the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the ground-breaking Supreme Court decision recognizing a right to privacy that protected individuals in making decisions about the use of contraceptives from the reach of state criminal law, but spoke implicitly to the constitutional underpinnings of an individual’s rights or interests in intimacy, marriage, procreation, sexuality, and sexual conduct.  Panelists will place the case in historical context, and explore the development of the Griswold doctrine, as well as its implications for current constitutional controversies over access to reproductive health care, marriage, sexuality and sexual conduct.

 

Speakers

Speaker: Cary C. Franklin, The University of Texas School of Law

Co-Moderator: M. Isabel Medina, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Speaker: Melissa E. Murray, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Speaker: Doug NeJaime, University of California, Irvine School of Law

Speaker: Neil S. Siegel, Duke University School of Law

Co-Moderator Speaker: Reva B. Siegel, Yale Law School

 

Section on Women in Legal Education Luncheon, 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

We are pleased to announce that this luncheon honors both Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is scheduled to attend and for whom the Section on Women in Legal Education Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award is named, and this year’s Award recipient, Herma Hill Kay, UC Berkeley.  Join us to spend some time with and hear from our honorees.

 

Joint Program:  Engendering Equality:  A Conversation with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States, and New Voices in Legal History, 1:30 – 3:15 p.m.

This Section on Legal History and Women in Legal Education Joint Program, co-sponsored by the Section on Constitutional Law, explores the history of women’s equality and the legacy of Justice Ginsburg.  The first portion of the program will, through a conversation between Justice Ginsburg and Wendy Williams, consider the ideas and strategies shaping Justice Ginsburg’s efforts as an advocate, an academic, and a Justice to equal citizenship for women.   The second portion of the program will present a panel of new voices in Women’s Legal History who study the complex and often contradictory ways in which social, political, and legal actors have appealed to gender and equality in movements of the past, and suggest how such studies might engender/inform equality’s future.

Speakers

Speaker: Deborah Dinner, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law

Speaker: Lynda Dodd,  City College of New York, Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Speaker: The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court of the United States

Co-Moderator: Reva B. Siegel, Yale Law School

Co-Moderator: Tracy A. Thomas, University of Akron, C. Blake McDowell Law Center

Speaker: Wendy W. Williams, Georgetown University Law Center

Speaker: Mary Ziegler, Florida State University College of Law

 

Sunday, January 4

AALS Crosscutting Program:  The More Things Change . . . Exploring Solutions to Persisting Discrimination in Legal Academia, 2:00 – 3:45 p.m.

This program, spearheaded by WILE Member Meera Deo, draws from empirical data, legal research, litigation strategy, and personal experience to both further conversations about the persistence of discrimination in the legal academy and activate strategies for addressing ongoing structural and individual barriers. Intersectional bias compounds many of these challenges, which range from the discriminatory actions of colleagues and students, to the marginalization of particular subject areas in the curriculum, to structural hierarchies in the profession.

By creating an avenue for direct personal exchange regarding these topics, the program seeks to build community between like-minded individuals who are diverse across characteristics of race, gender, class, teaching status, institution, and age. The focus of the participants is to share best practices and explore new approaches for overcoming ongoing discrimination, with the hope that these strategies may be more broadly employed.

The program follows an innovative format. After short presentations by three speakers, the program transitions to an “open microphone” session of speakers (selected in advance from a “call for remarks”) including those who are untenured, women of color, allies to marginalized faculty, clinical, legal writing and library faculty, and others with perspectives that may differ from the majority. The final thirty minutes are reserved for questions and conversation.

Speakers

Moderator and Commentator: Marina Angel, Temple University, James E. Beasley School of Law

Speaker: Meera Deo, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Speaker: Angela P. Harris, University of California at Davis School of Law

Speaker: Melissa Hart, University of Colorado School of Law

Monday, January 5

Co-Sponsored Program:  Emotions at Work:  The Employment Relationship During An Age of Anxiety, 10:30 a.m. -12:15 p.m.

This program, presented by the Section on Labor Relations and Employment Law and co-sponsored by the Sections on Socio-Economics and on Women in Legal Education, recognizes that in uncertain economic times that translate into uncertain times in the workplace, many individuals are experiencing a greater range and intensity of emotions at work, both as employees and as employers.  Employees may be anxious about job security even when they have an employment contract or other job protections, may feel more pressure with respect to their work responsibilities, and may be emotionally (and not just financially) unprepared for sudden changes to their employment relationships and changes in career plans.  Employers also are experiencing heightened pressure as they try to steer their work organizations safely past the rough economic waves while needing to make some hard decisions along the way.  Are these emotions in the workplace openly recognized and managed, and if so, how?  This panel explores the emotional aspects of the employment relationship and how employment law or workplace policy should address these concerns.

 

Speakers

Speaker: Marion G. Crain, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law

Moderator: Rebecca K. Lee, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Speaker: Laura A. Rosenbury, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law

Speaker: Thomas Ulen, University of Illinois College of Law

Speaker: David Yamada, Suffolk University Law School

 

Ongoing Oral History Project:  Your Help Needed at the Annual Meeting and Beyond

 

This year WILE established a subcommittee to organize an oral history project so that we might capture the law school experiences of women professors who have retired or are close to retiring before we lose touch with them in the profession.  The subcommittee, headed by Marie Failinger at Hamline, has been working on an interview packet (invitation letter, release, tips for interviews, and sample questions) and on inviting senior law professors to be interviewed.   Justice Ginsburg will be interviewed this month, but we still have several interviewees who need to be matched with an interviewer; we hope to have as many as 12 videotaped interviews on the Saturday and Sunday of AALS.

We could use your help as an interviewer for this project.  Those who have done oral histories know that it's a great opportunity to forge a bond and learn a lot about what a previous generation of women law professors experienced.   As mentioned, interviewers would be matched with an interviewee and supplied with the materials you need to do a good interview.  All that is required of interviewers is a small amount of prep time and about an hour for the interview at AALS.  If you are willing to interview, please contact Marie Failinger at mfailinger@hamline.edu<mailto:mfailinger@hamline.edu>, 651-523-2124, or Kerri Stone at stonek@fiu.edu,  305 348-1154.  Many opportunities to do interviews at future conferences or at home schools will be available, so even if you're not coming to AALS or have a full schedule there, please let us know if you'd be interested in interviewing at some point.

See you at AALS!

The AALS Section on Women in Legal Education Executive Committee

Kirsten Davis, Chair

Wendy Greene, Chair-Elect

Bridget Crawford, Immediate Past-Chair

Rebecca Zietlow, Secretary

Kerri Stone, Treasurer

Cindy Fountaine, Member-At-Large

September 11, 2014 in Gender, Law schools, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Book Review: Feminism Unfinished

From WaPo, Feminism Unfinished

“Feminism Unfinished"... argues that the “wave” metaphor obscures the history of a continuous American women’s movement sustained by labor activists, civil rights advocates and social-reform campaigners, who may have looked placid on the surface but were paddling like hell underneath. Each of the three authors contributes a chapter to their history of American feminism, and they declare together in their prologue that “there was no period in the last century in which women were not campaigning for greater equality and freedom.” They hope that uncovering the “multiple and unfinished feminisms of the twentieth century can inspire” the women’s movements of the 21st. That’s the surprise signaled in the teasing subtitle.

September 6, 2014 in Books, Legal History, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Book Review: The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment

From the review:

In The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment, Corrine M. McConnaughy sets out to “develop a general framework for understanding why politicians act to widen the democratic circle, and use that framework to explain the politics of woman suffrage” (p. 4). She argues that previous studies of the woman suffrage movement focused too closely on the suffragists and not enough on the lawmakers who actually gave women the right to vote. To fill this void, she examines the legislative process in several states to discover how and why a majority of their legislators were convinced to support woman suffrage. 

 

McConnaughy’s study begins with a general discussion of suffrage in America and analyzes how the electorate expanded over the decades. In connection with this, she offers what she describes as two models of enfranchisement: strategic enfranchisement and programmatic enfranchisement. She defines strategic enfranchisement as when “a single political party acts to enfranchise new voters expecting to reap electoral rewards” (p. 34). As an example, she describes how the Republican Party fought for suffrage for African Americans in the years following the Civil War and was rewarded with the votes of these new members of the electorate. Programmatic enfranchisement, on the other hand, is when pressure for change  comes from the voters. A third party appears that holds so much leverage with voters that the major parties are forced to address the key issues presented in that new party’s platform or face the defection of a large number of voters.

 

After rejecting strategic enfranchisement as a framework to explain how women gained the vote, McConnaughy turns to individual states to build a case for programmatic enfranchisement. 

August 30, 2014 in Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

TBT: Lawyer as Women's Suffrage Icon

Inez Milholland Boissevain

INEZ MILHOLLAND BOISSEVAIN

Inez Milholland Boissevain, labor lawyer, feminist, and suffragist, joined Harriot Stanton Blatch’s Equality League of Self-Supporting Women (later the Women’s Political Union) and lectured, arranged rallies, and testified at hearings. A pacifist in World War I, Inez became a war correspondent in Italy. Her beauty and social standing were an asset to the movement, and she gained fame as the “Suffrage Herald,” riding a horse at the head of two vast suffrage marches, one down New York’s 5th Avenue, the other in Washington, D. C. in 1913. She was so striking a figure that she became a suffrage symbol, part of the movement’s enduring imagery.

August 7, 2014 in Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Major Supreme Court Decision on Women's Rights

Students and lay audiences will find this timeline by the ACLU to be helpful: 

https://www.aclu.org/files/interactive/womensrights_scotus_0303a.html

 

July 1, 2014 in Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wikipedia as Feminist Activism

From Ms., Writing Her In: Wikipedia as Feminist Activism.  An easy, and immediate way to change and correct history.  Just do it. 

I’m tired of looking for important female artists on Wikipedia and finding no information, while second-rate male artists have pages and pages written about them.

 

The Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon was dedicated to changing this.During the edit-a-thon, Lesperance wrote a Wikipedia entry for Christina Ramberg. “There is no good reason why she wasn’t already on there,” Lesperance told me. “All of her male colleagues of the Chicago Imagists were represented on Wikipedia, and I’m finding this [omission] is typical.”

 

Omissions like this can be easily corrected. Lesperance said she felt an “air of empowerment at the ease with which an addition to that archive—which receives so much readership—takes place.”

May 22, 2014 in Legal History, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

ANN: Women and Social Movement Websites

From the WSM newsletter: 

With the April 2014 issue we are publishing a new Document Project, the second half of a Document Archive, and we are launching the publication of our Black Woman Suffragists database, complemented by a strong array of book reviews, teaching tools, and News from the Archives. 

Melanie Gustafson is the author and editor of a document archive, "Maud Wood Park Archive: The Power of Organization," part 1 of which we published last fall and part 2 appears in this issue. Together the two parts include more than 140 documents, principally from the Schlesinger Library and the Library of Congress. Park was a key player in the winning strategy of the National American Woman Suffrage Association that secured passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. After 1920 she served as the first president of the League of Women Voters. The documents collected here illuminate the history of the organized women's movement in the United States between 1910 and 1950. They are particularly valuable to understanding the founding of the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College, organized originally around the Women's Rights Collection, which consisted principally at first of the papers of NAWSA and Maud Wood Park. Beth Robinson has authored the document project, "How Did the League of Women Shoppers Use Their Privilege to Act in Solidarity with Workers, 1935-1948?" which explores a Popular Front organization that was active from 1935 until 1949, when red-baiting forced the organization to disband.

League members recognized that because women did the majority of family shopping, they wielded considerable influence. Through its slogan, "Use your buying power for justice," the League sought to mobilize middle-class and wealthy women as socially active consumers, reaching a membership of 25,000 in cities as diverse as San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Atlanta.Robinson constructs the answer to her framing question by tapping records of a number of urban branches of the League.

We publish in this issue the first installment of the Black Woman Suffragists database, which is the result of almost five years of work. Based on the pioneering scholarship by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, this collection consists of 1,200 items totaling more than 12,000 pages. Tom Dublin and a team of students have assembled these published and unpublished writings of sixty Black woman suffragists first identified by Terborg-Penn. The writings are accompanied by an introduction by Terborg-Penn and eighteen scholarly essays that treat major authors in the group. We expect to publish these writings and scholarly essays in five chronological installments from March 2014 to March 2016. This first installment, available online now, includes more than 150 items totaling more than 1,600 pages.

We are planning a new crowdsourcing initiative to accompany the publication of the Black Woman Suffragists database. If you are aware of significant writings by any of our author activists that we have not included in the database, please email Tom Dublin at tdublin@binghamton.edu and we will endeavor to publish the documents in later installments. Our goal is to make this database the most authoritative source for the published and unpublished writings of Black woman suffragists.

We round out this issue with other valuable resources, including ten book reviews, News from the Archives, and three Teaching Tools. If you are interested in reviewing books or have titles to recommend for review, please email our new book review editor, Kathleen Laughlin (Kathleen.Laughlin@metrostate.edu ) Please note as well the announcements in the News from the Archives section, assembled by Tanya Zanish-Belcher, of Wake Forest University. If you would like to make an archives-related announcement in a future issue, she can be reached at zanisht@wfu.edu.

WOMEN AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS INTERNATIONAL:
Meanwhile, we hope you have had a chance to view our other online digital archive, Women and Social Movements, International—1840 to Present. Since January 2011 we have published six installments of this new archive, which is now complete with150,000 pages of primary documents. It includes both published and manuscript materials generated by women's participation in international conferences and organizations over a period of 170 years, from missionary and abolitionist activities in the first half of the nineteenth century to women's NGO activism in the early twenty-first century. We have also published twenty-five secondary articles by scholars working in fields related to the sources in the archive. These essays place the primary materials within a broader interpretive context and offer suggestions on how best to use these online resources. Finally, we have posted on the database videos of seven oral history interviews with activists from the UN Women’s Conferences held between Mexico city in 1975 and Beijing in 1995. These activists also participated in two stimulating sessions at the 2011 Berkshire Conference on Women’s History and videos of those sessions are also available on WASM International.

Alexander Street Press is making this resource available to libraries through subscription or purchase plans. Your acquisitions librarian might be interested in one of these options. He or she should contact Eileen Lawrence (Lawrence@astreetpress.com) at Alexander Street Press for subscription information and/or to request a free trial of Women and Social Movements International. Please let us know your reactions to Women and Social Movements International.

FUTURE ISSUES of WASM: Future document projects in our pipeline include:

• The Prison Letters of Angela Davis
• Protestant Women and Japanese Incarceration during World War II
• The Around-the-World Trip of Carrie Chapman Catt and Aletta Jacobs, 1911-12
• Women in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
• The Progressive activism of Victoria Earle Matthews
• The Harlem YWCA and Black Women's Activism
• The California Commission on the Status of Women


TO SUBMIT A PROPOSAL:

We welcome new proposals for document projects or archives. Our national editorial board oversees a peer review system that evaluates prospective contributions and offers editorial support to author/editors. If you are interested in preparing a document project based on your research, we would be glad to exchange email with you about your work and the submission process. Please contact Tom Dublin at tdublin@binghamton.edu or Kitty Sklar at kksklar@binghamton.edu.

May 17, 2014 in Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

House Approves National Women's History Museum

In concept, though not in funding.  In Time for Mother's Day, House Approves Bill to Advance National Women's History Museum in DC.  As a scholar of women's legal history, I'm always glad to see us getting the rest of the historical story.  But I don't like the continued segregation of "women's" issues.  What really needs to happen is that women's history becomes part of the regular history.  See Tracy Thomas, Mainstreaming Women's History in Law

May 17, 2014 in Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Transgender Rights in Malaysia Are Becoming Stronger

New events in Malaysia

TRANSGENDER women in Malaysia have filed a groundbreaking court case challenging a law that prohibits them from expressing their gender identity, Human Rights Watch said today. On May 22, 2014, the Putrajaya Court of Appeal is expected to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of the laws. 

And: 

Three transgender women from the state of Negeri Sembilan are asking the court to strike down a state law that prohibits ''any male person who, in any public place wears a woman's attire or poses as a woman,'' which has been used repeatedly to arrest transgender women.

All three petitioners, who identify as female but are described as ''male'' on their national identification cards, have been arrested solely because they dress in attire that state religious officials deem to be ''female.'' 

May 14, 2014 in International, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Teaching Women's Legal History

I just published the book chapter, Teaching Women's Legal History in Teaching Legal History: Comparative Perspectives (Robert Jarvis, ed. 2014).  Here's an excerpt:

My objectives for the class focus on women, historical relevance, and feminist methodology.  First, the class is designed to explore the historical development of women’s rights in the law, information that is mostly absent in other courses except for a scattered representation in constitutional law.  Second, my goal is to foster an appreciation for the modern significance of that history.  This “applied legal history” approach seeks a useable past that enables history to be relevant to ongoing legal disputes of gender.  Finally, the course introduces and utilizes feminist methodology of deconstruction and integration.  It trains the students to read the law with suspicion by looking beyond the seeming objectivity of the law to expose assumptions and biases.  It also then adds to that law and context the omitted experiences of women. There is value in expanding feminist methodology beyond the usual feminist theory class because it offers a critical way of approaching the law, emphasizes social context, and teaches gender as a core value.    

 

May 8, 2014 in Education, Law schools, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

eight years too late,....

....I feel embarrassed having never even known about this book, published in 2008, but it will definitely be on my summer reading list.  

Men of Blood

April 30, 2014 in Legal History, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Backstory of Abortion Informed Consent Laws

I have just published Back to the Future of Regulating Abortion in the First Term, 29 Wisconsin J. Law, Gender & Soc'y 47 (2014).  In this work, I draw on original research of oral histories and recovered documents to explore the historical and legal context that spawned informed consent laws so early after Roe v. Wade seemingly resolved the legal question over abortion.  

From the abstract:

This article contextualizes the recent aggressive anti-abortion legislation  by examining the backstory and historical context of two early U.S. Supreme Court cases challenging abortion regulation in the first term: City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, and Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health . Little has been written about these foundational cases. Yet at the time of the first Akron case, the Supreme Court’s decision was “celebrated as the most far-reaching victory on reproductive rights since Roe v. Wade.” Now the arguments, strategies, and motivations of the Akron cases have renewed relevance, as first-term regulations are fast tracked through the judicial system and placed at the center of the ongoing debate over abortion. ***

 

This legal history offers insights and analyses gleaned from a review of the historical record found in archives and long-forgotten files in dusty basements. It relies on interviews with key players in the cases to fill in the story between the black and white lines of judicial opinions.Revisiting the legal and factual details of the foundational cases of first-term abortion regulation offers a more nuanced understanding of the opposition to abortion and the unsatisfactory nature of the judicial compromises. 

April 29, 2014 in Abortion, Legal History, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 28, 2014

23 Ways Feminnists Have Made the World Better for Women

Hence reads the title of a blog post.  It is in part a critique of the Heritage Foundation's Panel on Women's History, which was hosted last month.  

23, ways, feminists, have, made, the, world, better, for, women,

April 28, 2014 in Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

What Do Professors Do All Day?

What Do Professors Do All Day?  Go to meetings.  

April 24, 2014 in Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What the Feminist Challenge to Coverture Means for the Modern Fathers' Rights Movement

Michael Higdon (Tennesse) has posted Marginalized Fathers and Demonized Mothers: A Feminist Look at the Reproductive Freedom of Unmarried Men, Alabama L. Rev. (forthcoming). Higdon explores

“Thwarted Fathers” and “Conscripted Fathers” — to reveal a serious problem that both share. Namely, the fathers in both categories have suffered a significant abridgment of their reproductive freedom, which the Supreme Court has identified as a fundamental right, either by having fatherhood forced upon them without consent or by having fatherhood withheld from them by deceit and subterfuge. In addition, what is particularly troubling about both classes of cases is that, in all of them, the person who was allowed to ultimately control the father’s reproductive freedom was the mother. After all, in both cases, it was decisions the mother unilaterally made that determined how much reproductive freedom the biological fathers would ultimately enjoy. 

Thinking of the problem in those terms, such laws start to bear some resemblance to common law coverture, whereby all the wife’s legal rights were placed in the hands of her husband, which he would then dole out to her if and when he saw fit. Feminists fought hard to end these legal disabilities and, in the process, revealed the harms that arise from one gender being given dominion over the legal rights of the other.

This argument, though, is based on the assumption that feminists fought coverture by demanding equal parenting rights.  Nineteenth-century feminists did challenge coverture and its restrictions on property and contract by demanding formal and substantive equality of rights.  But, for parenting rights, these feminists demanded gender-specific rights of sole female control. Challenging the prerogative of forced marital sex, the marital rape exception, involuntary motherhood, and parental custody and guardianship laws, feminists demanded unilateral, woman-only control.  Voluntary motherhood, the right to choose when to procreate, the unilateral right to refuse sex, and maternal custody presumptions were the solutions--all gender-specific, unilateral, female-only rights.  Why?  Because in parenting, the woman was the sole partner who had to bear the pregnancy and care for the child. 

March 27, 2014 in Family, Legal History, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Future of Women's Legal History

Mary Ziegler (Florida State) has been blogging with us this past month. Her work in legal history focuses on the law and history of abortion, illegitimacy, contraception, marriage, and child care.

As I end my visit to Gender and the Law, it’s worth imagining what women’s legal history will look like in a decade or decades from now. I’ve suggested that we reevaluate what counts as a women’s legal movement—that we look in new and unanticipated directions when we do women’s legal history. We should also carry on important work that questions the definition of law. It is easy to fall back on traditional understandings: we study lawyers and professional identity, the relationship between social movements and legal reform, the influence of women on legal doctrine and of legal doctrine on women’s lives and the meaning of gender.

But women have always practiced law in unconventional ways, in unpredictable places. Historians are teaching us that women created law regardless of whether they had formal legal training. Social workers, bureaucrats, grassroots advocates, politicians, and ordinary citizens interpret the law in ways that matter, even if we cannot find evidence of their visions in contemporary rules. My own work explores how new understandings of constitutional law have formed in abortion clinics or street protests. These interpretations of the law looked very different from the ones set forth by the federal courts. Those practicing law were abortion providers and social workers, patients and doctors. Even though these women never sought legal counsel or changed black-letter rules, their understandings of law shaped who got reproductive healthcare and how women understood themselves and their decisions. These narratives about the past teach us how gender and law have remained fluid and contested. What we mean when we talk about women’s legal history will certainly change, since both gender and law remain open to re-imagining.

Legal history tells one small part of the story of women who have transformed our understanding of family, community, society, and law. Fundamentally, women’s legal history helps us understand not just where we are but where we can go. It reminds us of how women will continue to redefine what law could mean and be. 

March 25, 2014 in Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)