Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics by Marjorie J. Spruill

HQ 1421 .S683 2017

“Gloria Steinem was quoted in 2015 (in the New Yorker) as saying the National Women’s Conference in 1977 ‘may take the prize as the most important event nobody knows about.’ After the United Nations established International Women’s Year (IWY) in 1975, Congress mandated and funded state conferences to elect delegates to attend the National Women’s Conference in Houston in 1977, where Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, and other feminists endorsed a platform supporting abortion rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, and gay rights. Across town, Phyllis Schlafly, Lottie Beth Hobbs, and the conservative women’s movement held a massive rally to protest federally funded feminism and launch a pro-family movement.

Divided We Stand explores the role social issues have played in politics by reprising the battle between feminists and their conservative challengers, leading to Democrats supporting women’s rights and Republicans casting themselves as the party of family values. As the 2016 presidential election made clear, the women’s rights movement and the conservative women’s movement have irrevocably affected the course of modern American politics. We cannot fully understand the present without appreciating the pivotal events that transpired in Houston and immediately thereafter.”
– publisher description

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The Vaccine Race

The Vaccine Race

The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease
by Meredith Wadman

RA 644 .R8 W33 2017

“Until the late 1960s, tens of thousands of American children suffered crippling birth defects if their mothers had been exposed to rubella, popularly known as German measles, while pregnant; there was no vaccine and little understanding of the disease itself. In June 1962, Leonard Hayflick, a young biologist in Philadelphia, produced clean, self-replicating cells in which vaccines against rubella and other common childhood diseases could safely be grown. Two years later, in the midst of a devastating German measles epidemic, his colleague Stanley Plotkin developed the actual vaccine that would one day wipe it out. The new cells, derived from a legally aborted fetus, led to vaccines that have saved millions of Americans, and billions of people around the world, from some of the deadliest diseases in history.

The Vaccine Race is the story of these major breakthroughs in cell biology and public health, and of their legacies today. Meredith Wadman nimbly explains the science of these achievements, but also describes the political roadblocks that nearly stopped the scientists. She recounts the terrible dilemmas of pregnant women exposed to German measles, and the testing on infants, prisoners, orphans, and the intellectually disabled, which was common in the era. These events took place at the dawn of the battle over using human fetal tissue in research, during the arrival of big commerce in campus labs, and as huge changes were coming to the laws governing who owns research cells and who can profit from biological inventions. It is also the story of those for whom the rubella vaccine arrived too late, and of yet one more unrecognized woman whose cells have been used to save countless lives.

This is a masterful account of heroic possibilities and tragically missed opportunities at the intersection of science and politics. The new methods and new cells led to vaccines that have fought off polio, rabies, chicken pox, measles, hepatitis A, shingles, and adenovirus. With frightening viruses constantly emerging – and reemerging – around the world, no medical story could have more human drama, impact, or urgency today than The Vaccine Race.”
– publisher description

Secondhand Time

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets: An Oral History
by Svetlana Alexievich

DK 510.76 .A44913 2016

“When the Swedish Academy awarded Svetlana Alexievich the Nobel Prize, it cited her for inventing ‘a new kind of literary genre,’ describing her work as ‘a history of emotions . . . a history of the soul.’ Alexievich’s distinctive documentary style, combining extended individual monologues with a collage of voices, records the stories of ordinary women and men who are rarely given the opportunity to speak, whose experiences are often lost in the official histories of the nation.

In Secondhand Time, Alexievich chronicles the demise of communism. Everyday Russian citizens recount the past thirty years, showing us what life was like during the fall of the Soviet Union and what it’s like to live in the new Russia left in its wake. Through interviews spanning 1991 to 2012, Alexievich takes us behind the propaganda and contrived media accounts, giving us a panoramic portrait of contemporary Russia and Russians who still carry memories of oppression, terror, famine, massacres – but also of pride in their country, hope for the future, and a belief that everyone was working and fighting together to bring about a utopia. Here is an account of life in the aftermath of an idea so powerful it once dominated a third of the world.

A magnificent tapestry of the sorrows and triumphs of the human spirit woven by a master, Secondhand Time tells the stories that together make up the true history of a nation. ‘Through the voices of those who confided in her,’ The Nation writes, ‘Alexievich tells us about human nature, about our dreams, our choices, about good and evil – in a word, about ourselves.'”
– publisher description

Before Harlem

Before Harlem: An Anthology of African American Literature from the Long Nineteenth Century
edited by Ajuan Maria Mance

PS 508 .N3 M34 2016

“Despite important recovery and authentication efforts during the last twenty-five years, the vast majority of nineteenth-century African American writers and their work remain unknown to today’s readers. Moreover, the most widely used anthologies of black writing have established a canon based largely on current interests and priorities. Seeking to establish a broader perspective, this collection brings together a wealth of autobiographical writings, fiction, poetry, speeches, sermons, essays, and journalism that better portrays the intellectual and cultural debates, social and political struggles, and community publications and institutions that nurtured black writers from the early 1800s to the eve of the Harlem Renaissance.

As editor Ajuan Mance notes, previous collections have focused mainly on writing that found a significant audience among white readers. Consequently, authors whose work appeared in African American-owned publications for a primarily black audience – such as Solomon G. Brown, Henrietta Cordelia Ray, and T. Thomas Fortune – have faded from memory. Even figures as celebrated as Frederick Douglass and Paul Laurence Dunbar are today much better known for their “cross-racial” writings than for the larger bodies of work they produced for a mostly African American readership. There has also been a tendency in modern canon making, especially in the genre of autobiography, to stress antebellum writing rather than writings produced after the Civil War and Reconstruction. Similarly, religious writings – despite the centrality of the church in the everyday lives of black readers and the interconnectedness of black spiritual and intellectual life – have not received the emphasis they deserve.

Filling those critical gaps with a selection of 143 works by 65 writers, Before Harlem presents as never before an in-depth picture of the literary, aesthetic, and intellectual landscape of nineteenth-century African America and will be valuable resource for a new generation of readers.”
– publisher description

Because of Sex

Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years That Changed American Women’s Lives at Work
by Gillian Thomas

LF 3467 .T49 2016

“Best known as a monumental achievement of the civil rights movement, the 1964 Civil Rights Act also revolutionized the lives of America’s working women. Title VII of the law made it illegal to discriminate “because of sex.” But that simple phrase didn’t mean much until ordinary women began using the law to get justice on the job – and some took their fights all the way to the Supreme Court. Among them were Ida Phillips, denied an assembly line job because she had a preschool-age child; Kim Rawlinson, who fought to become a prison guard – a “man’s job”; Mechelle Vinson, who brought a lawsuit for sexual abuse before “sexual harassment” even had a name; Ann Hopkins, denied partnership at a Big Eight accounting firm because the men in charge thought she needed “a course at charm school”; and, most recently, Peggy Young,a  UPS truck driver, forced to take an unpaid leave while pregnant because she asked for temporary reprieve from heavy lifting.

These unsung heroines’ victories, and those of the other women profiled in Because of Sex, dismantled a “Mad Men” world where women could only hope to play supporting roles; where sexual harassment was “just the way things are”; and where pregnancy meant getting a pink slip.

Through first-person accounts and a vivid narrative, Because of Sex tells the story of how one law, our highest court, and a few tenacious women changed the American workplace forever.”
– publisher description

Motown

Motown: The Sound of Young America by Adam White with Barney Ales

ML 3792 .M67 W45 2016

“Years in the making, Motown: The Sound of Young America is the definitive visual history of the Detroit-based independent record company which became a style unto itself, a prolific and hugely successful production line of suave, sassy and sophisticated music through the sixties, seventies and eighties. Featuring extensive specially commissioned photography of treasures gathered from the archives, this landmark publication also captures the graphic and design iconography that underpinned Motown’s extraordinary creativity.

Packed with fresh insights gleaned from scores of interviews with key players, this exceptional and revealing book delves into the workings of the Motown machine and details how a dedicated team of backroom believers, white and black, turned a small family business into a popular music powerhouse. This was the home of Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, The Temptations and many more. Motown: The Sound of Young America is a spectacular labor of love befitting an incredible story.”
– publisher description

The Glass Universe

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel

QB 34.5 .S63 2016

“In the late nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or “human computers,” to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. At the outset this group consisted of the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, but soon the female corps included graduates of the new women’s colleges – Vassar, Wellesley, Radcliffe, and Smith. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned from computation to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates.

The “glass universe” of half a million plates that Harvard amassed over the ensuing decades – through the generous support of Mrs. Anna Palmer Draper, the widow of a pioneer in stellar photography – enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim. They helped discern what the stars were made of, divided the stars into meaningful categories for further research, and even found a way to measure distances across space by starlight. Their ranks included Williamina Fleming, a Scottish immigrant originally hired as a maid who went on to identify ten novae and more than three hundred variable stars; Annie Jump Cannon, who designed a stellar classification system that was adopted by astronomers the world over and is still in use today; and Dr. Cecilia Helena Payne, who in 1956 became the first woman professor of astronomy at Harvard – and Harvard’s first female department chair.

Elegantly written and enriched by excerpts from letters, diaries, and memoirs, The Glass Universe is the hidden history of the women whose contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy forever changed our understanding of the stars and our place in the universe.”
– publisher description