The 69 selections in this volume are for the most part the voices of women who saw themselves not as inhabiting a separate and enclosed sphere but as coworkers, often but not always in specialized female tasks, in a common enterprise: tending fields, raising children, coping with the stresses of wartime. Some of the women here have written and acted demanding full partnership in the social institutions that they were expected to sustain mostly as subordinates. Together, the entries give a rich depiction of an American womanhood that, even when perceived by husbands, politicians, and scholars as the other, was a participant in a history committed, at least in theory, to equality.
Contents: Part 1: The Colonial and Revolutionary Eras, From the Beginnings to 1789: A Colonial woman's journey, 1704-1705 / Sarah Kemble Knight -- A Letter from the New World, 1711 / Mary Stafford - - A Woman speaks out; letter to the editor, 1730/31 / Elizabeth Magawley -- On managing a southern plantation, 1740 / Eliza Lucas -- The Plight of an indentured servant, 1756 / Elizabeth Sprigs -- A Plea for equal rights for negroes, 1774 / Phillis Wheatley -- "Remember the Ladies": letters on women's rights, 1776 / Abigail Adams -- The Revolutionary war: letters of a Loyalist wife, 1776-1777 /rCatherine Van Cortlandt -- Petition of a slave to the Massachusetts legislature, 1782 / Belinda -- A Midwife's diary, 1787-1798 -- The Difficulty of leaving an abusive husband, 1788-1789 / Abigail Abbot Bailey
Part 2: A Growing Nation, 1789-1861: Letters of a New England teenager, 1800-1801 / Eliza Southgate Bowne -- New ideas about marriage, 1810-1816 /rMary and Henry Lee -- Cherokee women's petition, 1817 / Anonymous -- Letters on abolitionism and women's rights, 1837 / Sarah and Angelina Grimké -- On the Overland Trail, 1838 / Sarah White Smith -- Diary from a Georgia plantation, 1839 / Fanny Kemble -- Letters on women's rights and changing gender roles, 1840-1899 / Elizabeth Cady Stanton -- Letters from the Lowell Mills and a Utopian community, 1845-1855 / Mary Paul -- First childbirth with ether, 1847 / Fanny Appleton Longfellow -- Letters about birth control and abortion, 1849-1875 / Calista Hall, William Dorsey Pender and Emily Fitzgerald -- The Struggle between family obligations and self-expression, 1850-1856 / Ellen Birdseye Wheaton -- On teaching school in Indiana, 1852 / Ellen Lee -- The Language of female friendship: letters to Susan Gilbert, 1852-1854 / Emily Dickinson -- A Women's rights advocate contemplates marriage, 1853-1855 / Lucy Stone -- Mormon women's letters on polygamy, 1856-1857 / Ellen Spencer Clawson and Ellen Pratt McGary.
Part 3: The Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877: Letters from slaves, 1795-1863 /rJudith, Emily, et al. -- The iary of an African-American teacher and reformer, 1854-1862 / Charlotte Forten -- A Sourthern aristocrat's diary during the Civil War, 1861-1865 / Mary Chestnut -- Letters of a Civil War Nurse, 1863-1865 / Cornelia Hancock -- An Officer's wife in Indian territory, 1867-1868 / Elizabeth Haas Canfield -- Diary of a journey to Arizona, 1870 / Sister Monica -- Letters of a Kansas homesteader, 1871-1875 / Mary Abell.
Part 4: Expansion and Industrializaion, 1877-1919: Letters of a clergywoman, 1872-1893 / Juanita Breckenridge -- Letters to Susan B. Anthony on suffrage and equal rights for women, 1880 / Mrs. A. Beaumont, et al .-- Social worker in Brooklyn, 1883-1888 / Elizabeth Fedde -- A Young immigrant writes home, 1884-1886 / Wilhelmine Wiebusch -- A Reformer at the turn of the century, 1893-1913 / Alice Hamilton -- The Campaign for woman suffrage, 1894-1914 / Martha Farnsworth -- The School Days of an Indian girl, 1899 / Zitkala-Sa (Gertude Simmons Bonnin) -- Letters of a labor organizer, 1901-1914 / Mother Jones -- A Wife, mother and physician, 1904-1914 / Mabel S. Ulrich -- Women's responses to new technology, 1905-1916 / Martha Farnsworth and Henrietta Szold -- A "Bintel brief": letters from Jewish American women, 1907-1910 / Anonymous -- Letters of a former prostitute, 1910-1911 / Maimie Pinzer -- Peace activist, 1915-1919 / Alice Hamilton.
Part 5: Prosperity Depression, and War, 1919-1945: Letters to the children's bureau: federal aid for women and children, 1918-1928 / Anonymous -- On knowledge, politics, and women's rights, 1921-1946 / Mary Ritter Beard -- Letters on birth control, 1925-1928 / Margaret Sanger -- Diary of a college woman, 1926-1929 / Martha Lavell -- Letters from an early feminist, 1932 / M. Carey Thomas -- Letters on the Great Depression, 1934 / Lorena Hick -- A Dust bowl diary, 1934-1940 / Ann Marie Low -- Diary of a suburban housewife, 1935-1940 / Winifred Woodley -- Letters from the homefront and the battlefront, 1941-1945 / Catherine Lang, et al. -- A Woman in captivity, 1942-1943 / Elizabeth Vaughan -- Detention-camp letters, 1942-1943 / Sonoto Iwata -- Shipyard diary of a woman welder, 1943 / Augusta Clawson.
Part 6: Modern America, 1945 to the Present: Questioning the domestic ideology: letters to Betty Friedan on the Feminine Mystique, 1963 / Anonymous -- Letters from Vietnam, 1969 / Sharon Lane and Lynda Van Devanter -- A Woman doctor confronts the medical system, 1970s / Michelle Harrison -- A Congressional diary, 1971 / Bella Abzug -- An Open letter on gender and race in the South, 1972 / Anne Braden -- Diary from the California farm workers movement, 1973 / Johanna Von Gottfried -- Divorce and single motherhood, 1977-1978 / Nan Bishop, Sarah Hamilton and Clare Bowman -- Black in a white neighborhood, 1977-1978 / Toi Derricotte -- The Elderly and the sandwich generation, 1987-1990 / Elaine Marcus Starkman -- Breast cancer diary, 1990 / Marsha Carow Markman -- An Undocumented immigrant writes to her children, 1988-1990 / Amparo Ramirez.