Form and Content
Designed as a supplementary text for courses in twentieth century United States history and women’s history, Women in Modern America: A Brief History offers an analytic narrative of the actions of women from the end of the nineteenth century to the mid-1970’s. Lois W. Banner’s goal is to acquaint the reader with the women, both famous and obscure, who shaped the story of females in the United States and to “provide a corrective to the traditional histories from which women are absent.” She wrote her book at a time when the modern interest in women’s history was just getting under way, and her account became an influential contribution to the literature in the field during the 1970’s.
Banner divides the time span of the book into three distinct periods: 1890 to 1920, when women pursued suffrage and other reforms; 1920 to 1960, an era of “greater complacency about women’s problems”; and 1960 to 1974, when a more radical feminism emerged. Within these three broad eras, Banner considers a wide range of women, including African Americans, immigrants, the poor, and the middle class. Her goal is to portray how these groups of women responded to social changes while giving appropriate attention to the women who fought for greater rights for all females.
The years covered in the book were a time of rapid change that subjected women at all levels of society to new pressures and strains. Throughout the period, however, Banner...
(The entire section is 463 words.)