Books

House Full of FemalesA stunning and sure-to-be controversial book that pieces together, through more than two dozen nineteenth-century diaries, letters, albums, minute-books, and quilts left by first-generation Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, the never-before-told story of the earliest days of the women of Mormon "plural marriage," whose right to vote in the state of Utah was given to them by a Mormon-dominated legislature as an outgrowth of polygamy in 1870, fifty years ahead of the vote nationally ratified by Congress, and who became political actors in spite of, or because of, their marital arrangements. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, writing of this small group of Mormon women who've previously been seen as mere names and dates, has brilliantly reconstructed these textured, complex lives to give us a fulsome portrait of who these women were and of their "sex radicalism"--the idea that a woman should choose when and with whom to bear children.

 

 

 

In a world obsessed with the virtual, tangible things are once again making history. Tangible Things invites readers to look closely at the things around them, ordinary things like the food on their plate and extraordinary things like the transit of planets across the sky. It argues that almost any material thing, when examined closely, can be a link between present and past. Tangible Things is both an introduction to the range and scope of Harvard's remarkable collections and an invitation to reassess collections of all sorts, including those that reside in the bottom drawers or attics of people's houses. It interrogates the nineteenth-century categories that still divide art museums from science museums and historical collections from anthropological displays and that assume history is made only from written documents. 

 

 

 

WBWFrom admired historian—and coiner of one of feminism’s most popular slogans—Laurel Thatcher Ulrich comes an exploration of what it means for women to make history. In 1976, in an obscure scholarly article, Ulrich wrote, “Well behaved women seldom make history.”  Today these words appear on t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, greeting cards, and all sorts of Web sites and blogs.  Ulrich explains how that happened and what it means by looking back at women of the past who challenged the way history was written.  She ranges from the fifteenth-century writer Christine de Pizan, who wrote The Book of the City of Ladies, to the twentieth century’s Virginia Woolf, author of A Room of One’s Own.  Ulrich updates their attempts to reimagine female possibilities and looks at the women who didn’t try to make history but did.  And she concludes by showing how the 1970s activists who created “second-wave feminism” also created a renaissance in the study of history.

 

 

 

Using objects that Americans have saved through the centuries and stories they have passed along, as well as histories teased from documents, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich chronicles the production of cloth--and of history--in early America. Under the singular and brilliant lens that Ulrich brings to this study, ordinary household goods--Indian baskets, spinning wheels, a chimneypiece, a cupboard, a niddy-noddy, bed coverings, silk embroidery, a pocketbook, a linen tablecloth, a coverlet and a rose blanket, and an unfinished stocking--provide the key to a transformed understanding of cultural encounter, frontier war, Revolutionary politics, international commerce, and early industrialization in America. 

 

 

 

 

In 1997 Harvard College dedicated a gate into the Old Yard to celebrate the 25th anniversary of housing female students in the dorms. Intended as a symbol of opening, it was also a reminder of separation. Women have always been an important part of Harvard, but they have often functioned "outside the gate." This compelling collection explores the fences, real and symbolic, that overshadow women from institutions--and reveals the importance of looking at history with gender in mind. From the early days of Radcliffe, one of the Seven Sisters, to the interaction of teachers and students, to the Harvard community of working people, non-whites, and women, these essays explore aspirations as well as marginality. They celebrate the resilience of Radcliffe, which has transformed its image, in one generation, from a stepping stone to eventual integration with "the men" to a significant institution focused on women--an end desirable in itself. These are stories about once-locked gates, and those who opened them.

 

 

 

Drawing on the diaries of one woman in eighteenth-century Maine, this intimate history illuminates the medical practices, household economies, religious rivalries, and sexual mores of the New England frontier.

Between 1785 and 1812 a midwife and healer named Martha Ballard kept a diary that recorded her arduous work (in 27 years she attended 816 births) as well as her domestic life in Hallowell, Maine. On the basis of that diary, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich gives us an intimate and densely imagined portrait, not only of the industrious and reticent Martha Ballard but of her society. At once lively and impeccably scholarly, A Midwife’s Tale is a triumph of history on a human scale.

 

 

 

This enthralling work of scholarship strips away abstractions to reveal the hidden--and not always stoic--face of the "goodwives" of colonial America. In these pages we encounter the awesome burdens--and the considerable power--of a New England housewife's domestic life and witness her occasional forays into the world of men. We see her borrowing from her neighbors, loving her husband, raising--and, all too often, mourning--her children, and even attaining fame as a heroine of frontier conflicts or notoriety as a murderess. Painstakingly researched, lively with scandal and homely detail, Good Wives is history at its best.