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Recent Scholarship

Here is a sampling of recent books published by scholars who used archival material from Special Collections in their research.

See also: Fellowship & Grant Recipients.

Book cover: Annotating Modernism Marginalia and Pedagogy from Virginia Woolf to the Confessional Poets By Amanda GoldenAnnotating Modernism: Marginalia and Pedagogy from Virginia Woolf to the Confessional Poets by Amanda Golden (Routledge, 2020)

Making extensive use of archival materials by Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, and Anne Sexton, Amanda Golden reframes the relationship between modernism and midcentury poetry. While Golden situates her book among other materialist histories of modernism, she moves beyond the examination of published works to address poets’ annotations in their personal copies of modernist texts. A consideration of the dynamics of literary influence, Annotating Modernism analyzes the teaching strategies of midcentury poets and the ways they read modernists like T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Virginia Woolf, and W. B. Yeats. Situated within a larger rethinking of modernism, Golden’s study illustrates the role of midcentury poets in shaping modernist discourse.

book cover Liberal Christianity and Women's Global ActivismLiberal Christianity and Women's Global Activism: The YWCA of the USA and the Maryknoll Sisters by Amanda Izzo (Rutgers University Press, 2018)

Amanda Izzo, Smith 1999, is one of our own, having worked as a student intern and later as a Manuscript Processor in the Sophia Smith Collection. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Saint Louis University.

In an interview by John Fea for his history blog "The Way of Improvement Leads Home," Amanda explained what led her to write the book: "I was inspired to start the project while I was an employee of the Sophia Smith Collection, a women’s history archive at Smith College. This immersed me in the world of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and the Maryknoll Sisters, the two faith groups I examine in this book. Preparing manuscript collections—including packing hundreds of boxes in the YWCA’s Empire State Building headquarters—was a revelation. I had a unique vantage point on a stirring history of women’s activist faith that begged to be told."

book cover The Biopolitics of FeelingThe Biopolitics of Feeling: Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century by Kyla Schuller (Duke University Press, 2017)

Kyla Schuller,  Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, was a recipient of a 2006-2007 Travel-to-Collections grant. She completed research in the Sophia Smith Collection, specifically the Margaret Sanger and Florence Rose Papers, as well as the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau Records.

In The Biopolitics of Feeling Kyla Schuller unearths the forgotten, multiethnic sciences of impressibility—the capacity to be transformed by one's environment and experiences—to uncover how biopower developed in the United States. 

book cover What She Ate by Laura Shapiro What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro (Viking, 2017)

Laura Shapiro's new book has been getting a lot of deserved attention.  She used Helen Gurley Brown's papers in the Sophia Smith Collection to research the chapter on Brown.

Maureen Corrigan, in her book review heard on NPR's "Fresh Air," in August said "Shapiro helped break new ground by taking the history of women, housework and cooking seriously, even as her witty and vivid writing style was decidedly un-solemn. Now, some 30 years later, Shapiro has done it again, this time, breaking new ground in the art of biography by taking the adage, 'you are what you eat," literally."

book cover American Women on the Move

American Women on the Move: The Inside Story of the National Women’s Conference, 1977  by Shelah Gilbert Leader and Patricia Rusch Hyatt (Lexington Books, 2016)

Gloria Steinem referred to International Women's Year 1977 as "the most important event nobody knows about." At this event, a diverse group of women across race, class and backgrounds met to propose a program toward women's full equality. This work, by Shelah Leader and Patricia Rauch Hyatt, celebrates the 40th anniversary of that unique gathering and provides a historical retrospective of how women with a broad range of interests found consensus and a plan for the future.

Patricia Rauch Hyatt's papers came to the Sophia Smith Collection in 2016. Their contents were a major source of information for this book. More information about International Women's Year, Houston can be found in the International Women's Tribune Centre records, the Fran Worden Henry papers, the Susan Rubin papers, the Carole A. Oglesby papers and the Women's rights collection.

book cover American Girls American Girls and Global Responsibility by Jennifer Helgren

American Girls and Global Responsibility: A New Relation to the World during the Early Cold War by Jennifer Helgren (Rutgers University Press, 2017)

American Girls and Global Responsibility brings together insights from Cold War culture studies, girls’ studies, and the history of gender and militarization to shed new light on how age and gender work together to form categories of citizenship. Jennifer Helgren argues that a new internationalist girl citizenship took root in the country in the years following World War II in youth organizations such as Camp Fire Girls, Girl Scouts, YWCA Y-Teens, schools, and even magazines like Seventeen. She shows the particular ways that girls’ identities and roles were configured, and reveals the links between internationalist youth culture, mainstream U.S. educational goals, and the U.S. government in creating and marketing that internationalist girl, thus shaping the girls’ sense of responsibilities as citizens. 

Jennifer Helgren, Associate Professor of History at University of the Pacific, was awarded a Travel-to-Collections Grant in 2013. She made extensive use of the YWCA Records for her research.

book cover Liberation in Print by Agatha Beins

Liberation in Print: Feminist Periodicals and Social Movement Identity by Agatha Beins (University of Georgia Press, 2017)

This is the first analysis of periodicals’ key role in U.S. feminism’s formation as a collective identity and set of political practices in the 1970s. Between 1968 and 1973, more than five hundred different feminist newsletters and newspapers were published in the United States. Agatha Beins shows that the repetition of certain ideas in these periodicals—ideas about gender, race, solidarity, and politics—solidified their centrality to feminism.

Agatha Beins, Associate Professor at Texas Woman's University, was awarded a Margaret Storrs Grierson Fellowship in 2008 to help fund her research in the Valley Women's Center Records and the Periodicals Collection.  She also received Travel-to-Collections grants in 2007 and 2013.

book cover Reproductive Justice: An Introduction

Reproductive Justice: An Introduction by Loretta Ross and Rickie Solinger (University of California Press, 2017)

Reproductive Justice is a first-of-its-kind primer that provides a comprehensive yet succinct description of the field. Written by two legendary scholar-activists, Reproductive Justice introduces students to an intersectional analysis of race, class, and gender politics. Clearly showing how reproductive justice is a political movement of reproductive rights and social justice, the authors illuminate how, for example, a low-income, physically disabled woman living in West Texas with no viable public transportation, healthcare clinic, or living-wage employment opportunities faces a complex web of structural obstacles as she contemplates her sexual and reproductive intentions.

Loretta Ross has given her own papers to the Sophia Smith Collection, been an invaluable ally in the acquisition of other collections, conducted interviews for the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project, and was the Steinem Initiative's first Activist-in-Residence at Smith College.

book cover Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown


Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown by Gerri Hirshey (Macmillan Publishers, 2016)

When Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl first appeared in 1962, it whistled into buttoned-down America like a bombshell: Brown declared that it was okay— even imperative—for unmarried women to have and enjoy a sex life, and that equal rights for women should extend to the bedroom and the workplace. “How dare you?” thundered newspapers, radio hosts, and (mostly male) citizens. But more than two million women bought the book and hailed her as a heroine. Today, more than 68 million young women worldwide are still reading some form of Helen Gurley Brown’s audacious yet comforting brand of self-help.

Author and journalist Gerri Hirshey spent many hours researching her book using the Helen Gurley Brown Papers in the Sophia Smith Collection.


book cover Women's Antiwar Diplomacy during the Vietnam War Era

Women's Antiwar Diplomacy during the Vietnam War Era by Jessica M. Frazier (University of North Carolina Press, 2017)

In 1965, fed up with President Lyndon Johnson's refusal to make serious diplomatic efforts to end the Vietnam War, a group of female American peace activists decided to take matters into their own hands by meeting with Vietnamese women to discuss how to end U.S. intervention. While other attempts at women's international cooperation and transnational feminism have led to cultural imperialism or imposition of American ways on others, Jessica M.Frazier reveals an instance when American women crossed geopolitical boundaries to criticize American Cold War culture, not promote it.

Jessica M. Frazier was awarded a Travel-to-Collections Grant in 2011-12. Her book is based in part on research in the papers of Joan Biren and Saralee Hamilton and the Peace, Periodicals, and Women's Liberation Collections.


book cover Birth Control in Decolonizing the Caribbean

Birth Control in the Decolonizing Caribbean by Nicole C. Bourbonnais (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Over the course of the twentieth century, campaigns to increase access to modern birth control methods spread across the globe and fundamentally altered the way people thought about and mobilized around reproduction. This book explores how a variety of actors translated this movement into practice on four islands (Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, and Bermuda) from the 1930s–70s. (read more)

Nichole Bourbonnais was the recipient of a Travel-to-Collections Grant in 2009-10. Her book is based in part on research in the papers of Dorothy Hamilton Brush, Margaret Sanger, May Farquharson, Una Elizabeth Jacobs and the records of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.


book cover Rebel Crossings

Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers, and Radicals in Britain and the United States by Sheila Rowbotham (Penguin Random House, 2016)

The transatlantic story of six radical pioneers at the turn of the twentieth century Rebel Crossings relates the interweaving lives of four women and two men as they journey from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, from Britain to America, and from Old World conventions toward New World utopias. (read more)

For her research, Sheila Rowbotham made extensive use of the Helen Tufts Bailie Papers.


book cover Dorothy in a Man's World

Dorothy in a Man's World: A Victorian Woman Physician's Trials and Triumphs by Peter Dawson (Amazon, 2016)

In the male-dominated world of medicine, she dared to step forward and fight for fairness—graduating from Johns Hopkins Medical School with honors in the year 1900. But for physician Dorothy Reed Mendenhall, MD, the battle for equality was just beginning. In the name of improving the standards of care for women and infants, she faced the scorn of prejudiced doctors in an establishment marked by its unwillingness to change. (read more)

Peter Dawson's book was largely based on research in the Dorothy Reed Mendenhall Papers. He also used records from the Smith College Archives.


book cover Irrepressible

Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham , by Emily Bingham (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)

"Raised like a princess in one of the most powerful families in the American South, Henrietta Bingham was offered the helm of a publishing empire. Instead, she ripped through the Jazz Age like an F. Scott Fitzgerald character: intoxicating and intoxicated, selfish and shameless, seductive and brilliant, endearing and often terribly troubled. In New York, Louisville, and London, she drove both men and women wild with desire, and her youth blazed with sex...." ( read more )

For her research Emily Bingham used sources in the Mina Curtiss Papers and other collections.


book cover Songs of Sorrow

Songs of Sorrow: Lucy McKim Garrison & Slave Songs of the United States , by Sam Charters (University Press of Mississippi, 2015)

"The untold story behind the creation of the classic songbook "Slave Songs of the United States...In the spring of 1862, Lucy McKim, the nineteen-year-old daughter of a Philadelphia abolitionist Quaker family, traveled with her father to the Sea Islands of South Carolina to aid him in his efforts to organize humanitarian aid for thousands of newly freed slaves. During her stay she heard the singing of the slaves in their churches, as they rowed their boats from island to island, and as they worked and played. Already a skilled musician, she determined to preserve as much of the music as she could, quickly writing down words and melodies, some of them only fleeting improvisations." ( Read more ).

Sam Charters' research was based on sources in the Garrison Family Papers.


book cover Marie Munk (1885-1978): Leben und Werk

Marie Munk (1885-1978): Leben und Werk , by Oda Cordes (Böhlau: Diss. Univ. Hannover 2014) (German)

"German-born Marie Munk was one of the most influential personalities of the German feminist movement and, as an êmigrê in the United States, played an important role in the development of German and American law after World War II...." ( read more ).

Oda Cordes was a Grierson Fellow recipient, 2006-07. Her biographical work, Marie Munk: Her Life and Work is based on research in the Marie Munk Papers and includes many of Munk's writings.


book cover More than Medicine

More than Medicine: A History of the Feminist Women's Health Movement , by Jennifer Nelson (NYU Press, 2015)

"In More Than Medicine , Jennifer Nelson reveals how feminists of the '60s and '70s applied the lessons of the new left and civil rights movements to generate a women’s health movement...." ( read more )

Jennifer Nelson was a travel funds recipient in 2005-06 and 2009-10. Her research sources included the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project, Loretta Ross Papers, in addition to other collections.


book cover Kay Boyle: A Twentieth Century Life in Letters

Kay Boyle: A Twentieth Century Life in Letters , edited by Sandra Spanier (U of Illinois Press, 2015)

Based in part on sources in the Lola Ridge Papers in the SSC, "[t]he letters in this first-of-its-kind collection, authorized by Boyle herself, bear witness to a transformative era illuminated by genius and darkened by Nazism and the Red Scare. Yet they also serve as milestones on the journey of a woman who possessed a gift for intense and enduring friendship, a passion for social justice, and an artistic brilliance that earned her inclusion among the celebrated figures in her ever-expanding orbit." ( read more )


book cover Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet

Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet , by Therese Svoboda (Schaffner Press, 2016)

"The first full-length biography of Lola Ridge, a trailblazer for women, poetry, and human rights far ahead of her time This is a rich and detailed account of the life and world of Lola Ridge, poet, artist, editor, and activist for the cause of women's rights, workers' rights, racial equality and social reform...." ( read more )


Enter Helen: The Invention of Helen Gurley Brown and Rise of the Modern Single Women

Enter Helen: The Invention of Helen Gurley Brown and Rise of the Modern Single Women by Brooke Hauser (HarperCollins, 2016)

Author, journalist and Smith lecturer Brooke Hauser conducted extensive research in the Helen Gurley Brown Papers and the SSC's collection of Cosmopolitan magazines for her forthcoming book on Brown, author of the groundbreaking bestseller Sex and the Single Girl and pioneering editor-in-chief of "Cosmo" from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Hauser’s book, coming out April 2016, also draws on interviews with Brown’s friends and colleagues ( read more )


Wendy Kline has published the article "Communicating a New Consciousness: Countercultural Print and the Home Birth Movement in the 1970s," in Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Volume 89, Number 3, Fall 2015, pp. 527-556

Wendy Kline received two travel grants from the SSC and was a Grierson Fellow in 2004-2005. For this article she used sources in the Informed Homebirth/Informed Birth and Parenting Records in the SSC. Her forthcoming book on the same topic is entitled Coming Home: Medicine, Midwives, and the Transformation of Birth in Late-Twentieth-Century America. Based on interviews and archival records of midwives, doctors, and health organizations, the book will be the first in-depth, historical analysis of the home birth movement in the U.S.

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