Help educate Shelby Knox about Radical Women’s History and the Limits of the Hashtag

via The Ms. Education of Shelby Knox.  Those of you who teach WGSS courses are no doubt familiar with the 2005 film, “The Education of Shelby Knox,”  which highlights “the need for comprehensive sex education, gay rights, and youth activism.”  Knox now has a blog, and has an account on Twitter, where she does a series of “this day in women’s history” tweets, marked with the #wmnhist tag.  Every morning she combs “through pages and pages of HIStory to find the couple of morsels pertaining to women that wind up on my Twitter feed.”  Knox finds that after a year of searching that “the “women” in that phrase are most often white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and Western. Just as women have been mostly left out of the broad discourse we call “history,” women of color, indigenous, queer, trans, disabled and non-Western women (and women living within all the intersection thereof) have been further marginalized, mostly left out of or tossed in as an afterthought in feminist attempts to add women to existing history.”  So, she’s decided to launch the Radical Women’s History Project. “What that means is that every day this year, starting on January 1st, 2011, I’m scouring the internet and books and any other source I can find to chronicle the lives and the accomplishments of the world’s women, explicitly centering women of color, indigenous, queer, trans, disabled, and non-Western women, and I’m posting them here for whomever would like to use them.”

This is an excellent endeavor, but before she reinvents the wheel, I encourage her to consult the wealth of resources produced by the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, women’s history bloggers (including those like me who blog about a variety of things, and the intersections between them), metasites like Discovering Women’s History Online, and of course that “so twentieth century” technology, the H-Women listserv where the vast majority of women’s historians still get information and connect on the Internet.  Then of course, there are numerous non-digital (aka “dead tree”) sources — books (including the textbook I use for my survey course), scholarly articles in women’s history journals, women’s history archives, etc.

So, help me help educate Ms. Knox — suggest some links and sources that I’ve missed and/or endorse the ones I’ve already mentioned.

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2 Comments

  1. Professor Prescott,

    First I want to thank you for taking the time to write about your concerns about the Radical Women’s History Project. I’m going to take from your post that you think I am presuming to do something no one else has done before – please understand this doesn’t accurately reflect my belief. I am truly grateful and indebted to all the women’s historians who’ve been doing this work for centuries, and of course, who are working now.

    I also want to make clear that I don’t fancy myself a women’s historian. For me to meet that standard for myself and for anyone to take my scholarship seriously, I’d need to go to grad school in the topic, which is something I’ve seriously considered but am not actively pursuing. I started the RWHP because I found it disconcerting that when I looked for “This Date in History” features they rarely mentioned women and even those that do often only feature one type – the very privileged kind. The very fact that I like “This Date in History” features – short facts divorced from their rightful and oh so very meaningful context – is indicative of my relative lack of sophistication in regard to historical scholarship. Instead, I am embarking on the RWHP as an activist, one who sees in herself and the young women she works with the repercussions of being educated without seeing one’s self represented. I have a large following on Twitter and a smaller one on my blog, so I decided to find for myself and others little doses of women’s history to which most of us outside the profession would never be exposed.

    As for sources, I would love recommendations. I got on the H-listserv recently (although, I’ll admit I probably won’t speak but will read and listen closely – I can imagine many of your colleagues would feel the same way about me as you do!) and am happy to find your blog to add to the other women’s history blogs I read. The issue with sources lies in the scope of my project, which I admit from the start has a non-scholarly premise, wanting individual dates and years for one-off facts. At the moment, I have quite a few books sitting on my desk, given to me or recommended by real women’s historians and one of my fantastic older colleagues. Of course, I can’t be sure of the scholarly standing of any of them but if you’d let me know, I’d be exceedingly grateful! So far, I’ve been working off of:

    WomanList by Marjorie P.K. Weiser & Jean S. Arbeiter

    The Book of Women’s Firsts by Phyllis J. Read & Bernard L. Witlieb

    Herstory: Women Who Changed the World by Ruth Ashby and Deborah Gore Ohrn

    Sister Days: 365 Inspired Moments in African American History by Janus Adams

    The Women’s Chronology by James Traeger

    The Timetables of Women’s History by Karen Greenspan

    Women’s World: A Timeline of Women in History by Irene M. Franck & David M. Brownstone

    Several editions of The Woman’s Calendar by Lynn Sherr – I know these are old but they do include daily women’s history facts.

    Of course, I’d love to know which of these are bunk and any further recommendations you have. And thank you, thank you for directing me to Project MUSE, which I don’t have full access to because I’m not a student but perhaps I’ll use my brother’s student login while he’s abroad!

    Once again, thanks again for putting your concerns to the page – if you’d like to have further conversation, please email me at shelbyknoxblog (at) gmail (dot) com

    Best,

    SK

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