The Conservative Roots of the Reproductive Rights Revolution

Heather Munro Prescott:

Part 2 of a series on Griswold v. Connecticut. Next up: part 3 by yours truly!

Originally posted on NOTCHES:

In our second installment of Notches’ series commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision, Beth Bailey invites us to complicate progressive narratives of the sexual revolution by analyzing the conservative underpinnings of Griswold and to re-focus our attention on women’s hard-fought struggles to redefine their roles in American society.

Beth Bailey

When I teach about the history of sexuality in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, I figure that my task is to complicate–or even undermine–the comfortably progressive narrative of sexual revolution. Yes, there were freedoms claimed and freedoms won. And when it came to sex, America looked a whole lot different in 1970 than it had at the dawn of the previous decade. But I want students to consider the notion that the “revolution” was never a simple struggle between the forces of freedom and the forces of repression. That the various strands of revolution were…

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The Obergefell Syllabus: Historicizing Same-Sex Marriage in the United States

Heather Munro Prescott:

Some summer reading for those interested in historical scholarship that influenced Obergefell v Hodges

Originally posted on NOTCHES:

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision established the constitutional right of  same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states. Discussions of the United States national past abounded in the majority opinion and in the dissents. The words “history” / “historical” / “historic” appear in the decision 63 times and the word “tradition” appears 47 times. The Justices used the word “precedent” 26 times and the word “past” 10 times.

The 5-4 decision, delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy, relies heavily on the work of historians of sexuality, gender and race. Two amicus briefs shaped the historical framework for the majority opinion: Brief of Historians of Marriage and the American Historical Association as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioners and Brief of the Organization of American Historians as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioners. Obergefell, in other words, is a clear example of how the work of…

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Too Little, Too Late: The Path To Griswold v. Connecticut

Heather Munro Prescott:

The first in a series on the legacy of Griswold v. Connecticut

Originally posted on NOTCHES:

To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision, Notches is excited to publish a three-part series that reflects upon the antecedents and legacies of this Supreme Court decision, which established that a state’s ban on the use of contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy. Our contributors, Linda Gordon, Beth Bailey and Heather Munro Prescott, invite us to reconsider the significance of Griswold. Each article suggests new ways of contextualizing Griswold and the history of reproductive politics in the United States.

Linda Gordon

When the Supreme Court decided Griswold in 1965, birth control advocates might well have concluded that the decision marked a final recognition of the basic human need for reproduction control. It had taken fifty years to defeat the repressive, prudish and sexist ban on birth control that began in the 19th century. Furthermore, in the eight years between Griswold and Roe v Wade, eighteen…

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Crowdsourcing Women’s History

Via National Women’s History Project.  I’ll be coordinating the Connecticut part of the project and assigning entries for my students.
A Crowdsourcing Experiment
Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
To celebrate the centennial of the White House picketing for woman suffrage that began in January of 1917, the editors of Women and Social Movements in the United States invite women’s history faculty and students and independent scholars to join a crowdsourcing experiment.Historian Jill Zahniser compiled extensive information about women suffrage picketers and their supporters, which we published as a database in the March 2015 issue of WASM. Women from 35 states and the District of Columbia are represented in the database. Jill Zahniser has launched this project by constructing the database and writing 500-word biographical sketches of six women activists.  Another 28 already have biographical sketches in Notable American Women. We seek to assemble biographical sketches of the remaining 190 picketers and their supporters for whom there are no authoritative biographical sketches. We hope to proceed with  20 faculty in U.S. women’s history volunteering to mentor students in their classes between now and June 2017 in the methods of researching and writing these remaining biographical sketches of militant woman suffragists?  Are you a graduate student or independent scholar who would volunteer to write one or two of these sketches?

This collaborative project offers a rare opportunity to engage in the research, interpretation, and writing of women’s history for a broad public. Contributors will receive authorship credit for their work and can view the online publication of these sketches as a contribution to the approaching centennial celebration of the passage of Woman Suffrage in the United States.

In the summer of 2017, Jill Zahniser will edit these new suffragist sketches and they will be published in the fall 2017 issue of Women and Social Movements in the United States. We will also add to the NWP Suffragists Database new information discovered about any of these activists.

If you do not have access to Women and Social Movements in the United States we will provide you access to the excel spreadsheet which contains this database and related files from the project. We have prepared guidelines to researching these woman suffrage activists that we can send you. And we will supply you with names and biographical information about activists to research.

To join this project, please contact WASM co-editor, Tom Dublin at, who will be coordinating the crowdsourcing activity.


Red Alert! Wisconsin lege moves to destroy tenure at state unis.

Heather Munro Prescott:

Please sign this petition!

Originally posted on Historiann:

cowgirlgunsign1David J. Vanness, an Associate Professor in Population and Health Sciences at the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has started a petition to thwart a proposal to destroy tenure as we know it at public universities there.  He explains:

In the Omnibus Motion adopted by a 12-4 vote of the Joint Finance Committee on May 29, 2015, the Board of Regents is to be granted new authority, which even if not exercised, by its very existence will create a chilling effect upon the research and teaching activities of our faculty and staff. Specifically, language in point 39 of the motion states that the “… Board may, with appropriate notice, terminate any faculty or academic staff appointment when such an action is deemed necessary due to a budget or program decision regarding program discontinuance, curtailment, modification, or redirection, instead of when a…

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CFP: Digital Humanities and the History of Sexuality

Heather Munro Prescott:

Thinking of submitting something for this CFP

Originally posted on NOTCHES:

Notches N How do you teach the history of sexuality in an academic environment that is increasingly defined by digital processes and ways of interacting? NOTCHES: (re)marks on the history of sexuality invites submissions for a special issue on the challenges and potentialities of teaching with the digital humanities. We welcome short entries (500 – 750 words) discussing the ways that digital methodologies and environments shape pedagogical approaches to the history of sexuality. Your contributions might cover but are not limited to:

  • Using databases or digitized source material in lessons
  • Incorporating digital humanities methods like distant reading, topic modeling, GIS, and data visualization into your teaching or historical practice
  • Using social media (twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia and online forums) to structure teaching, learning and writing assignments
  • Presenting ideas and research through podcasts, videos, blogs, wikis, or web exhibitions

NOTCHES is an international, collaborative, open-access, peer-reviewed history of sexuality blog. With more than 170,000…

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Z.O.M.G.: I agree with Katie Roiphe entirely.

Heather Munro Prescott:

Wow – I agree too!

Originally posted on Historiann:

AnneTaintoryourlifestyle Why, yes! Yes, I do.

Alert the authorities:  Katie Roiphe is dead right about “Why Professors Should Not Have Affairs with Their Students:”   Longtime readers may recall that I’ve been pretty unsparing in my criticism of Roiphe for a long, long time now, but she really nails it here.

In this new essay, Roiphe writes from the perspective of seeing a number of male colleagues have affairs with their graduate and undergraduate students, and I’ve seen it too among men in the profession–my age and even younger, so it’s not going away anytime soon (although thank the Goddess I’ve never seen it among my colleagues in my department.)  First, it’s an obvious and embarrassing trope:  “The dynamic is so trite one can barely commit it to the page, but it seems that otherwise charismatic, original men are completely happy to inhabit this cliché, to live and work in it…

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