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To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done For America - A History

by Lillian Faderman

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"A reappraisal of women who are known by history but whose histories are incomplete, To Believe in Women examines how their lesbianism may in fact have facilitated their accomplishments. Lillian Faderman persuasively argues that even before a "lesbian identity" was defined, many female leaders had what would now be called lesbian relationships, free from the constraints of traditional heterosexual arrangements, which might have impeded their pursuits in education, politics, professional life, and culture."--Jacket.… (more)
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Epigraph
I have forgotten everything I learned at Bryn Mawr,

but I still see you standing in chapel and telling

us to believe in women.

   -   from a letter to Bryn Mawr's president M. Carey Thomas, from an alumna
Dedication
TO PHYLLIS  -  AGAIN

FOR EVERYTHING - AGAIN
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This is a book about how millions of American women became what they now are: full citizens, educated, and capable of earning a decent living for themselves. It is also a book about how Americans developed a social conscience and adapted the goals of various reform movements into law. But it departs from other such histories because it focuses on how certain late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century women whose lives can be described as lesbian were in the forefront of the battle to procure the rights and privileges that large numbers of American women enjoy today. -Introduction
From its inception, women's fight for the vote was largely led by women who loved other women. It was a grueling battle. As Carrie Chapman Catt, the leading spokesperson at the time the Nineteenth Amendment was passed, summed it up, success was won only after 56 state referendum campaigns, 480 legislative campaigns for state suffrage amendments, 47 state constitutional conventional campaigns, 277 state party conventions to get suffrage planks in the party platforms, and so forth and so on. - The Loves and Living Arrangements of Nineteenth-Century Suffrage Leaders
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"A reappraisal of women who are known by history but whose histories are incomplete, To Believe in Women examines how their lesbianism may in fact have facilitated their accomplishments. Lillian Faderman persuasively argues that even before a "lesbian identity" was defined, many female leaders had what would now be called lesbian relationships, free from the constraints of traditional heterosexual arrangements, which might have impeded their pursuits in education, politics, professional life, and culture."--Jacket.

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This landmark work of lesbian history focuses on how certain late-nineteenth-century and twentieth-century women whose lives can be described as lesbian were in the forefront of the battle to secure the rights and privileges that large numbers of Americans enjoy today. Lillian Faderman persuasively argues that their lesbianism may in fact have facilitated their accomplishments. A book of impeccable research and compelling readability, TO BELIEVE IN WOMEN will be a source of enlightenment for all, and for many a singular source of pride.
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