Review by Choice Review
The editors (both, California State Polytechnic Univ., Pomona) envision this four-volume encyclopedia as a student's first exposure to the role models included within. Focusing on historically significant yet often unknown women and organizations, the compilation has over 750 alphabetically arranged, signed entries as well as essays on thematic issues, and more than 195 chronologically organized primary documents. The documents are offset typographically, and include source citations to the original work or its digital equivalent. The editors express their dismay by the continued "old-school," "top-down," "male-centered" content of most American history AP courses. They intend the work to be a source wherein women and girls find information, inspiration, and revelation in its pages. Care was taken to provide a woman's best-known name as well as variants, and to include many lesser-known figures, including non-Protestants, lesbians, and women of color. The work is corrective in bringing those who were ignored into the story and succeeds in representing a wide spectrum of North American womanhood (including some Canadian and Mexican figures from history and folklore as well as individuals associated with the US proper and its precolonial past). Further, editors avoided gendered language and ideas reflecting patriarchal and militaristic ideology. Clarity regarding their subjects' sexuality was another emphasis; the entry on Margaret Mead, for example, mentions her bisexuality. An average of four pages of historical overview contextualize each volume's content for readers. Each entry includes a judicious list of further readings and see also references for readers seeking to expand their understanding of the material. Summing Up: Highly recommended. High school through undergraduate students; general readers. --Rebecca Tolley, East Tennessee State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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