Feminist Books

We have assembled an eclectic list of feminist books. Some refer to the CWLU. Some are about women in Chicago history. Some are written by former CWLU members. Others are written by members and supporters of the Herstory Project. If you know of worthwhile books we have overlooked, please let us know at

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The Feminist Memoir Project contains autobiographical writings edited by Rachel DuPlessis and Ann Snitow. Includes narratives from former CWLUers Naomi Weisstein, Heather Booth, Amy Kesselman and Vivian Rothstein. Excerpts from this book appear elsewhere on this site.

In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution contains a wealth of anecdotal history about the women's liberation movement. Author Susan Brownmiller is a good storyteller and a thoughtful analyst of the movement's many trends and personalities. It has some CWLU related material.

The Story of Jane : The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service is a memoir written by former Jane member Laura Kaplan about the CWLU affiliated abortion service. This exceptionally well written book presents Jane in a very realistic light.

Remedios by Aurora Levins Morales is a montage of photos and stories about Puerto Rican women from the earliest days. Aurora is a former CWLUer.

Tidal Wave by Sara Evans details the enormous changes in women's lives since the 1960's. The book has some CWLU references.

Women Confronting Retirement: A Nontraditional Guide by by Nan Bauer-Magli and Alice Radosh, showcases the voices of 38 women as they confront the need to redefine who they are when they leave the workplace behind them. Among the contributors are former CWLUers Diane Horwitz and Terry Davis.

Her Way by Chicago writer Paula Kamen is her long awaited study of young women and sexuality. She credits second wave feminism for much of today's greater sexual autonomy for women. She also wrote the play Jane: Abortion and the Underground. Paula Kamen is a member of the Herstory Project.

Moving the Mountain by Flora Davis is an introduction to the history of the women's movement since 1960. Based on over 100 interviews with activist participants, it was recently updated. Has some CWLU references.

Feminism in the Heartland by Judith Ezekiel tells the story of the women's movement in Dayton, Ohio in the 1970's. The CWLU experience was an influence on the women's liberation movement in Dayton. This book overcomes the bi-coastal bias of many histories of the period. Yes, Virginia, there was a women's liberation movement in the Midwest.

Getting Home Alive by Aurora Levins Morales and Rosario Morales is a unique mother-daughter autobiography of struggle, love and survival from the hills of Puerto Rico to the streets of NY and Chicago. Both Aurora Levins Morales and her mother Rosario are former CWLUers.

Women Writing Resistance: Essays from Latin America and the Caribbean edited by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez unearths an emerging tradition of Latin American and Caribbean women authors who are passionately committed to chronicling, and fighting, the injustices that pervade their home countries. Former CWLUer Aurora

Medicine Stories by Aurora Levins Morales begins with a look into the complexities of Puerto Rico's colonized past and continues with essays about activism, feminism, health and love. Aurora Levins Morales is a former CWLUer.

Sticking to the Union: an Oral History of the Life and Times of Julia Ruuttila by Sandy Polishuk details the life of a longtime union activist from her days in the IWW to her role in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The forward to the book is by former CWLUer Amy Kesselman.

Unequal Sisters edited by Ellen DuBois and Vicki Ruiz. A broad-ranging anthology containing some 40 works of feminist history focusing on the experiences of women of color, from which more than half of the articles are drawn. Ellen DuBois is a former CWLUer.

Feminist Organizations : Harvest of the New Women's Movement is a collection of academic articles edited by Myra Ferree and Patricia Martin. It contains an article about the CWLU by Herstory Project member Margaret "Peg" Strobel. The cover uses a poster designed by Graphics Collective co-founder Estelle Carol.

Woman's Inhumanity to Woman is the new book by Phyllis Chesler that explores competition among women. Has some startling insights into how sexism is internalized and how this has affected the feminist movement. Includes some references to former CWLUers.

The Politics of Women's Liberation by Jo Freeman analyzes the diversity of the women's movement from the mid 60's to 1973. The CWLU is mentioned. Jo Freeman is a Herstory Project contributor.

At Berkeley in the Sixties by Jo Freeman tells of her days in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the Bay Area Civil Rights Movement. Jo Freeman is a Herstory Project contributor.

The Elizabeth Cady Stanton-Susan B. Anthony Reader edited by Ellen DuBois. A collection of writings from two of our most celebrated foremothers. Editor Ellen DuBois is a former CWLUer

Don't Kill Your Baby: Public Health and the Decline of Breastfeeding in the 19th and 20th Centuries by medical historian Jacqueline Wolf explores a little known area of women and children's health. Jackie was a political activist in Chicago and much of the research for her book was done here.

Freedom's Daughters by Lynne Olson is a history of women in the civil rights movement beginning in the 1830's. Includes material on the relationship between the civil rights movement and women's liberation. Has a discussion of Heather Booth's work in Mississippi and its relationship to her later work in the women's movement. Heather Booth was a founding member of the CWLU.

Abortion Without Apology: A Radical History for the 90's by Ninia Baehr. Contains material about Jane and its lessons for our time.

Harriet Stanton Blatch and the Winning of Woman Suffrage by Ellen DuBois. Harriet Stanton Blatch (1856-1940), daughter of the famous suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, played an essential role in the winning of woman suffrage in the United States. Ellen DuBois is a former CWLUer.

Voices of Women Historians edited by Eileen Boris. Meet the women who record the history that women make. Eileen Boris was a member of the CWLU and talks about her involvement in its labor history project. There is also a memoir from CWLU Herstory Project member Peg Strobel.

The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America by Ruth Rosen. An overview of the 20th century women's movement that includes some "hidden history" of 1940's, 50's and early 60's feminism. Has a few CWLU related references.

Provoking Agents: Gender and Agency in Theory and Practice edited by Judith Keegan Gardiner contains 17 essays on feminist theory and practice, exploring their impact on society and individuals. Judith Keegan Gardiner is a former member of the CWLU and is a Herstory Project contributor.

Dear Sisters edited by Rosalyn Baxandall and Linda Gordon. An illustrated anthology of documents from Second Wave feminists. There are several CWLU documents in the collection.

Feminism and Suffrage by Ellen DuBois. A close look at the early days of the women's movement from 1848-1869. Ellen DuBois is a former CWLUer.

Women Building Chicago edited by Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast. A very thorough biographical reference work of how women helped build the Second City.

Politics of Women's Studies edited by Florence Howe. Modern women's studies programs grew out of the struggles of the women's liberation movement. This anthology explores the many points of view among today's women's studies practitioners. CWLU Herstory Project member Peg Strobel has an essay in the book.

A Room at a Time: Women's Entry into Party Politics is Jo Freeman's new book about how women transformed political parties in America. Jo Freeman has generously contributed material to the Herstory Project.

Woman Suffrage and Women's Rights by Ellen DuBois is a collection that traces the suffrage story against the backdrop of changing attitudes to politics, citizenship and gender, and the resultant tensions over sociological issues. Ellen DuBois is a former CWLUer.

The V. I Warshawski Series by Sara Paretsky chronicles the life of Chicago's fictional feminist private detective, V.I. Warshawski. V.I. is described as having once belonged to an underground abortion network based at the University of Chicago. Sounds like V.I. was a fictional member of "Jane". Paretsky's books explore the political corruption, corporate crime and street life of Chicago in gritty vivid detail. Use the link we provide and then type Sara's name into the search field to get the latest list of V.I's adventures.

Feminist Fatale by Chicago writer Paula Kamen is widely noted as the first book on Generation X women and feminism. She also wrote the play Jane: Abortion and the Underground. Paula Kamen is a member of the Herstory Project. Out of print, but available directly from the author HERE.

Every Mother's Son : The Role of Mothers in the Making of Men is Judith Arcana's book detailing the role mothers play in the making of men. Judith Arcana was active in Jane and is still involved with the abortion movement. She has generously contributed material to the Herstory Project

Our Mother's Daughters is Judith Arcana's book detailing the role mothers play in the making of women. Judith Arcana was active in Jane and is still involved with the abortion movement. She has generously contributed material to the Herstory Project.

Women: Images and Realities edited by Amy Kesselman, Lily D. McNair and Nancy Schniedewind, is a far ranging multicultural anthology of feminist writings on a variety of subjects. Amy Kesselman is a former member of the CWLU and is a Herstory Project member.

You Can't Not Do It: The Journal of an Older Activist edited by Rima Lunin Schultz is the inspiring account of Chicagoan Ruth Dear's long commitment to social justice. This memoir is a testament to the persistence and courage of one woman in the face of militarism, racism and nuclear proliferation. Ruth is a former CWLU member.

For Women Only by Gary Null and Barbara Seaman is a definitive look at the major contributions to women's health throughout history, together with a practical guide to women's health concerns. Has some CWLU references.

When Abortion was a Crime by Leslie J. Reagan is an award-winning history of abortion in America from 1867-1973. Has references related to the CWLU affiliated Abortion Counseling Service or "Jane" .

The Rising of the Women by Meredith Tax is an introduction to the remarkable working class organizing that went on in the pre WWI period. Meredith Tax is a former CWLUer.

Rivington Street by Meredith Tax is the fictional story of Jewish women growing up on New York's Lower East Side in the early 20th century. Meredith Tax is a former CWLUer

Union Square by Meredith Tax is the sequel to Rivington Street and follows the story through the years between the world wars. Meredith Tax is a former CWLUer

Radical Feminism by Barbara Crow is a carefully chosen collection of classic documents from second wave feminism. Has several documents written by CWLU members.

Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America 1967-1975 by Alice Echols is a good overview of the period, especially the tension between radical feminism and the Left. There are a few brief references related to the CWLU.

Grace Paley's Life Stories : A Literary Biography is Judith Arcana's book about the activist writer Grace Paley. Judith Arcana was active in Jane and is still involved with the abortion movement. She has generously contributed material to the Herstory Project.

Personal Politics: The Roots of Women's Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left by Sara Evans traces women's liberation back to the days of the civil rights movement and the New Left. Includes some material about CWLU founders Heather Booth and Vivian Rothstein.

graphic by the Chicago Women's Graphics Collective

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