history

Female Justices on the Supreme Court

A detail of Artist Nelson Shanks’ painting, “The Four Justices”, a 9-foot 6-inch by 7-foot 9-inch oil on canvas portrait of the first four female justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, top row, from left, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, bottom row, from left, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is seen during a press preview at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, Monday, Oct. 28, 2013.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Since its beginnings, only four women have served as Justices on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS):  Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elena Kagan, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Sonia Sotomayor.  Justice O’Connor made history when she became the first woman to serve the Court in 1981. The Supreme Court is the highest Court in the United States, responsible for upholding the Constitution.  It has th...
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Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) almost single-handedly founded the birth control movement in the United States. In the early 1900s, while working as a midwife among poverty-stricken women in New York City’s Lower East Side, she often met women who asked her for the secret to preventing pregnancy.  Sanger knew no secrets and instead witnessed countless women bear one child after another, sometimes a...
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#InternationalWomensDay

International Women's Day
March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD), a celebration of women that takes place in countries on every continent.  It has a deep socialist heritage, one connected to the cause for women’s suffrage, women’s right to vote, and importantly, for working women’s right to fair wages and safe working conditions.  Today, it is recognized by the United Nations as part of a global call to promote gender ...
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Octavia Butler: SciFi Genius, Afrofuturist Mother

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Conversations about Afrofuturist and science fiction feminist writers always acknowledge the revolutionary significance Octavia E. Butler’s fictional writing. Even in the early 21st century, the science fiction (sf) genre is described as being mostly white, male and heteronormative – although the actual histories of fans and creators might disagree. When she began writing in the 1970s, Butler was ...
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The Pill

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The oral contraceptive known as “The Pill” is one of the most influential drugs in the history of the United States.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the birth control pill in 1960, giving heterosexually active women control over preventing unwanted pregnancies.  Its appearance marked a turning point in the social and economic lives of women who could now claim sexual equality and ...
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Georgia Gilmore

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Most people know the story of Rosa Parks, the black woman who refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama and whose action helped launch the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, a key moment in the black freedom struggle many think of as the spark that brought the civil rights movement to national and global attention. But most have never heard of Georgia Gilmore, one of the ...
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Black Feminism(s)

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One could argue black feminism began in the nineteenth century with Sojourner Truth’s declarative question, “Ain’t I a Woman” since her words are an inaugural instance of intersectionality, the notion that race and class status are inseparable from the struggle for gender equality. But there were many black feminists in the 19th century like Anna Julia Cooper, Frances Harper, Harriet Tubman, Id...
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Transgender Women of Color at Stonewall

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  History remembers New York’s iconic Stonewall Inn as the birthplace of the modern LGBT rights movement. On June 28, 1969 it’s bar patrons clashed with the police who had arrived to arrest and shame same-sex couples who came there to dance and socialize with each other. The Rebellion on this day now marks Gay Pride and Christopher Street Day celebrations across the world. And while...
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Taking Health Into Their Own Hands

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In 1969, a group of women who were disillusioned with the paternalism of the medical establishment came together as the Boston Women's Health Collective. They pooled their knowledge in small working groups and produced a series of pamphlets which became Women and Their Bodies in 1971 and then Our Bodies, Ourselves, published in 1973, to inform women about a variety of health-related topics includi...
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Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Mankiller
  Wilma Pearl Mankiller (1945-2010), was born in Okalhoma. She was a tireless advocate for the Cherokee people, and she became the first female principle chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985. With a focus on improved healthcare and education systems, Mankiller served two full terms as Cherokee chief. She also founded the Cherokee Nation Community Development Department, which helped to...
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Alice Paul

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Alice Paul (1185-1977) was crucial to the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. constitution granting women the right to vote in 1920. In 1923, she drafted and proposed the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment, then known as the Lucretia Mott Amendment. While studying in England, Paul became active in the suffrage movement, learning important lessons about community organizing an...
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Consciousness Raising

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In the context of 1970s feminism, consciousness-raising (CR) refers to the practice of discussing the varied and everyday effects of sexism, racism, and classism in groups of similarly identified individuals. The practice was a key political strategy for second wave feminists, as well as an opportunity for personal transformation. The goal was to uncover the ways patriarchy distorted all levels of...
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Black Power Feminism

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As a political practice Black Power feminism bridges black feminist thought and black power politics simultaneously. As a theory it embraces the central tenants of the Black Power movement including self-definition, political participation, and self defense while also prioritizing gender justice. Black Power feminism situates race and gender as equal parts in eradicating various forms of oppres...
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ACT UP

The posters in the University of Rochester AIDS Education Collection are presented here for research purposes only, and may be protected by copyright either according to US law or according to the laws applicable in their countries of origin. Any further reproduction of the materials may require copyright or other rights clearance and is the sole responsibility of the user.
ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) founded in New York City in 1987, is a direct action organization working to end the AIDS crisis. At its height there were 140 ACT UP chapters internationally. Through a democratic structure rooted in Affinity Groups, Working Groups and regular Monday night meetings, often of hundreds of people,  ACT UP achieved transformative breakthroughs for people with ...
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Fire Island

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The beach resort communities of Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines play a central part in US gay social and political life. Cherry Grove is the first lesbian and gay resort community. Located on the Atlantic ocean, 70 miles from New York City, they were first claimed as gay territory as far back as the first half of the twentieth century: the 1930s saw the arrival of lesbian and gay the...
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Sojourners for Truth and Justice

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Inspired by the intersectional activism of Sojourner Truth a century before, Sojourners for Truth and Justice was a radical black women’s human rights organization during the height of the cold war’s Age of McCarthy. The group included Alice Childress, Shirley DuBois, Esther Cooper Jackson, Claudia Jones, Lorraine Hansberry, Louise Thompson Patterson, and Mary Church Terrell. They advocated a blac...
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Sojourner Truth

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Although she was born into slavery, Sojourner Truth is among the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time,” according to Smithsonian. In 1826, Truth escaped New York slavery with her infant daughter; she later went to court to sue for the recovery of her son. In 1828, she became the first black woman in U.S. history to win a legal case against a white man. Born Isabella Baumfree, she named h...
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Lesbian Lit

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Lesbian Literature includes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that feature same sex women’s love, relationships, and themes. While there is a history of lesbian literature before the 20th century—most notably Sappho of Lesbos—most of the literature offered only subtle lesbian themes. The first explicit lesbian novel published in English, The Well of Loneliness (1928) by Radclyffe Hall was deemed obs...
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Sci-Fi Feminism

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The historical role of feminism in science fiction is somewhat contested. On the one hand, common wisdom would have it that SF was a genre for white male writers at least until the late twentieth century. It’s true that male authors generally dominated science fiction during the early history of the genre, which stretches from the “scientific romances” and utopian narratives of the turn of the cen...
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Shirley Clarke

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Shirley Clarke (October 2, 1919 – September 23, 1997) was a pioneer avant-garde filmmaker and early proponent of video. In 1963, her documentary about the poet Robert Frost won an Academy Award, yet the sexism of Hollywood made a feature film career there impossible. Clarke then moved to The Chelsea Hotel in New York City, divorced her husband, and spent the nineteen sixties making four feature fi...
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The First Black Woman Presidential Candidate

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  Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm (1924-2005) made history when she became the first African American woman elected to Congress in 1969; she served 7 terms, ending in 1983. And in 1972, she became The First Black Woman to Run for President on the Democratic Party ticket. She won 152 votes at the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Chisholm’s parents were...
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Alice Bag: Hollywood Punk Scene

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In the late 1970s, Alice Bag (born Alicia Armendariz) the daughter of Mexican immigrants, helped birth the Hollywood punk scene with the band The Bags, before punk was even called punk. In her late teens, Alice connected with other outcast youth, many of them queers of color, who possessed little money but much imagination. They transformed their anger, humor, and ingenuity into potent fashion and...
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Entre Mujeres/Between Women: Songs of Solidarity

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Entre Mujeres is an innovative percussion-based translocal music composition project between Chicanas/Latinas in the U.S. and Jarochas/Mexican female musicians in Mexico who struggle for social justice for mothers and families in states of social and economic precarity. Jarochas practice music rooted in the son jarocho tradition developed in Veracruz, Mexico. Facilitated by Martha Gonzalez, Grammy...
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Feminist Publishing: Women’s and Gender Studies Journals

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Feminist publishing was a key element that allowed the early women’s studies movement to emerge, and the 1970s were, without a doubt, a ground-breaking time for feminist publishing. Women’s studies and feminist journals were a key index of the burgeoning field, as demonstrated by the following chronology. Feminist Studies, the first academic journal in women’s studies, was established in 1972, as ...
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#ImWithHer

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While Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first woman in the United States to win the presidential nomination for a major political party, Victoria Woodhull is the first woman to run for President of the United States (POTUS).  She ran for office in 1872, forty-eight years before the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. In her acceptance speech, Clinton reminded her supporters that their “...
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Dolores Huerta

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History knows Dolores Huerta (b. 1930) as a powerful union organizer, Chicana civil rights leader, and feminist activist. In the 1960s, Dolores Huerta, along with César Chávez, united Mexican, Mexican-American and Filipino farmworkers and founded the United Farmworker Union (UFW) in central California. Huerta led the struggle to organize exploited migrant farmworkers who worked in abysmal conditio...
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Roe v. Wade

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1970 was the dawn of a decade of radical and swift change for women in the U.S., none more profound than the right to control whether and when to become a mother. That year, a Texas woman named Norma McCorvey—a poor former carny with addiction problems and two previous pregnancies (one daughter forcibly taken from her by her mother, the other placed for adoption)—found herself pregnant a third tim...
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#NotYourSidekick

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In 2013 Suey Park raised the profile of Asian American feminism in the digital age with her Twitter campaign. In one tweet, she writes that she’s “tired of patriarchy in Asian American spaces and sick of the racism in white feminism.” In another, she writes, “I’d rather base build with other Asian Americans than rely on allies, who have a history of being absent.” Park’s description of racism a...
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Protesting Miss America

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In 1968, four hundred women gathered at Atlantic City’s Miss America Pageant to protest what they called “ludicrous beauty standards” perpetuated by American culture. In front of television cameras ready to film the pageant as a major media event, Miss America Protesters seized the opportunity to criticize the “Madonna-Whore” messaging symbolized by the beauty pageant. In “No More Miss Amer...
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The Battle of the Sexes

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In the world of professional tennis, there were two matches between a male and female player that became known as The Battle of the Sexes. They took place in 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade, and one year after congressional ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and the passage of Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education prog...
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Women’s Lib (Feminism 101)

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Feminism, the feminist movement, the women’s liberation movement, or women’s lib are movements designed to transform models of power that facilitate the social, political, and economic sexist exploitation and oppression of women. Feminism is not only about women being equal to men. It is also interested in challenging the prevalence of rape and domestic violence—think Bill Cosby, Emma Sulko...
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Equal Rights Amendment

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The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is really very simple: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” It suggests the basic principle of equal humanity. And, it is shocking that ERA remains only a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Equality between the sexes is not part of the Constitution. (more…)
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Modern Roller Derby

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"Roller Derby" brings to mind images of elbows to the face, staged fights, butch lesbians and angry tattooed feminists. In 2001, modern flat track roller derby grew out of the Riot Grrrl punk rock movement in Autin, Texas. Instead of accepting traditional gender roles, the Riot Grrrl movement redefined femininity and rebelled against the male dominated music world. Modern roller derby, an amate...
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