1st Edition

Breaking the Wave: Women, Their Organizations, and Feminism, 1945-1985

Edited By Kathleen A. Laughlin, Jacqueline Castledine Copyright 2011
    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    Breaking the Wave is the first anthology of original essays by both younger and established scholars that takes a long view of feminist activism by systematically examining the dynamics of movement persistence during moments of reaction and backlash. Ranging from the "civic feminism" of white middle-class organizers and the "womanism" of Harlem consumers in the immediate postwar period, to the utopian feminism of Massachusetts lesbian softball league founders and environmentally minded feminists in the 1970s and 1980s, Breaking the Wave documents a continuity of activism in both national and local organizing that creates a new discussion, and a new paradigm, for twentieth century women’s history.

    Contributors: Jacqueline L. Castledine, Susan K. Freeman, Julie A. Gallagher, Marcia Gallo, Sally J. Kenney, Rebecca M. Kluchin, Kathleen A. Laughlin, Lanethea Mathews, Catherine E. Rymph, Julia Sandy-Bailey, Jennifer A. Stevens, Janet Weaver, and Leandra Zarnow.


    Introduction The Long History of Feminism, Kathleen A. Laughlin

    Part I Mainstream, Leftist, and Sexual Politics

    Chapter 1 Civic Feminists: The Politics of the Minnesota Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, 1942—1965

    Kathleen A. Laughlin

    Chapter 2 The Legal Origin of "The Personal Is Political": Bella Abzug and Sexual Politics in Cold War America

    Leandra Zarnow

    Chapter 3 "I’m Glad as Heck that You Exist": Feminist Lesbian Organizing in the 1950s

    Marcia Gallo

    Part II Women’s Global Visions

    Chapter 4 Exporting Civic Womanhood: Gender and Nation Building

    Catherine E. Rymph

    Chapter 5 The National Council of Negro Women, Human Rights, and the Cold War

    Julie A. Gallagher

    Chapter 6 From Ladies Aid to NGO: Transformations in Methodist Women’s Organizing in Postwar


    Lanethea Mathews

    Part III The Politics of Location

    Chapter 7 The Consumers Protection Committee: Women’s Activism in Postwar Harlem

    Julia Sandy-Bailey

    Chapter 8 Pregnant? Need Help? Call Jane: Service as Radical Action in the Abortion Underground in Chicago

    Rebecca M. Kluchin

    Chapter 9 Feminizing Portland, Oregon: A History of the League of Women Voters in the Postwar Era,


    Jennifer A. Stevens

    Chapter 10 Barrio Women: Community and Coalition in the Heartland

    Janet Weaver

    Part IV Feminist Consciousness and Movement Persistence

    Chapter 11 "Stop That Rambo Shit. . . This is Feminist Softball": Reconsidering Women’s Organizing in the Reagan Era and Beyond

    Jacqueline L. Castledine and Julia Sandy-Bailey

    Chapter 12 "It Would Be Stupendous for Us Girls": Campaigning for Women Judges Without Waving

    Sally J. Kenney

    Chapter 13 Building Lesbian Studies in the 1970s and 1980s

    Susan K. Freeman

    Conclusion Looking Backward, Looking Forward

    Jacqueline L. Castledine


    Kathleen A. Laughlin is Professor of History at Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. She is the author of Women’s Work and Public Policy: A History of the Women’s Bureau, US Department of Labor, 1945-1970.

    Jacqueline L. Castledine is a core faculty member of the University Without Walls program, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she teaches interdisciplinary studies.

    'In an interesting collection of essays, the authors collectively seek to challenge the notion of the wave metaphor that for some time has defined the history of women in the U.S. … For example, Leandra Zarnow focuses on Bella Abzug as a civil rights attorney in the late 1940s, while Julie Gallagher looks at the National Council of Negro Women during the height of the Cold War … Thus, up-and-coming scholars open up new areas of study, challenging the wave metaphor in the process. Recommended.'
    – CHOICE