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Before They Could Vote: American Women's Autobiographical Writing, 1819–1919
edited by Sidonie A. Smith and Julia Watson
University of Wisconsin Press, 2006
Cloth: 978-0-299-22050-1 | Paper: 978-0-299-22054-9 | eISBN: 978-0-299-22053-2
Library of Congress Classification HQ1412.B44 2006
Dewey Decimal Classification 305.4092/273


The life narratives in this collection are by ethnically diverse women of energy and ambition—some well known, some forgotten over generations—who confronted barriers of gender, class, race, and sexual difference as they pursued or adapted to adventurous new lives in a rapidly changing America. The engaging selections—from captivity narratives to letters, manifestos, criminal confessions, and childhood sketches—span a hundred years in which women increasingly asserted themselves publicly. Some rose to positions of prominence as writers, activists, and artists; some sought education or wrote to support themselves and their families; some transgressed social norms in search of new possibilities. Each woman’s story is strikingly individual, yet the brief narratives in this anthology collectively chart bold new visions of women’s agency.

Sidonie Smith is Martha Guernsey Colby Collegiate Professor of English and Women's Studies and chair of the Department of English at the University of Michigan. Julia Watson is associate professor of comparative studies at The Ohio State University. Their several previous books include Reading Autobiography and Women, Autobiography, Theory: A Reader.

"This rich new anthology sets in motion an inter-textual conversation of remarkable vitality that will change the ways we understand gender, class, ethnicity, culture, and nation in nineteenth-century America."—Susanna Egan, author of Mirror-Talk

"This indispensable collection is . . . important for its range of topics-social uplift, geography, education, lynching, sanctification, Indian removal, deafness, and abolition, among others."—Dale M. Bauer, coeditor, The Cambridge Companion to Nineteenth-Century American Women's Writing

    Introduction: Lives in Public: Women Writing Autobiographically, 1819¿1919	000
    Rose Butler. An Authentic Statement of the Case and Conduct of Rose Butler, who was tried, convicted, and executed for the crime of arson. 1819.	000
    Mary Jemison. From A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison (as told to James E. Seaver). 1824.	000
    Jarena Lee. From The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee. 1836.	000
    Fanny Kemble. From Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation, 1838¿39. 1863.	000
    Margaret Fuller. Selections from ¿Youth.¿ In Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli. 1852.	000
    Adele Jewel. ¿A Brief Narrative of the Life of Adele Jewel.¿ 1869.	000
    M. Carey Thomas. From her ¿Early Journals.¿ 1874/78.	000
    Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins. From ¿The Yakima Affair.¿ From Life Among the Piutes. 1872.	000
    Eulalia Pérez. ¿A Life and Its Memories¿ (as told to Thomas Savage). 1877.	000
    Lucy Larcom. ¿Beginning to Work.¿ From A New England Girlhood. 1889.	000
    Sarah Orne Jewett. ¿Looking Back on Girlhood.¿ 1892.	000
    Fannie Barrier Williams. ¿The Club Movement among Colored Women in America.¿ 1900.	000
    Zitkala ¿a. ¿Impressions of an Indian Childhood.¿ ¿School Days of an Indian Girl.¿ ¿An Indian Teacher among the Indians.¿ ¿Why I Am a Pagan.¿ 1900¿02, 1914.	000
    Mary Austin. ¿Nurslings of the Sky.¿ From The Land of Little Rain. 1903.	000
    Mary MacLane. ¿Mary MacLane Meets the Vampire on the Isle of Treacherous Delights.¿ 1910.	000
    Mary Antin. ¿The Promised Land.¿ From The Promised Land. 1912.	000
    ¿¿More Slavery at the South¿ by a Negro Nurse.¿ From The Independent. 1912.	000
    ¿¿Experiences of the Race Problem¿¿by a Southern White Woman.¿ From The Independent. 1904.	000
    ¿¿The Race Problem¿An Autobiography¿ by a Southern Colored Woman.¿ From The Independent. 1904.	000
    ¿¿Observations of the Southern Race Feeling¿ by a Northern Woman.¿ From The Independent. 1904.	000
    Harriet Quimby. "How I Made My First Big Flight Abroad: My Flight Across the English Channel." 1912.	000
    Sui Sin Far. ¿Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian.¿ ¿Sui Sin Far, the Half-Chinese Writer, Tells of Her Career.¿ 1909/10, 1913.	000
    ¿Madeleine.¿ From Madeleine: An Autobiography. 1919.	000

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