Early, Frances H.
EARLY, Frances H.
Female. Education: Florida State University, B.A.; Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, M.A., Ph.D.
Writer, editor, and educator. Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, professor of history; contributor to creation and development of numerous university programs and departments, including Women's Studies Program and Department, Peace and Conflict Studies Program, and Cultural Studies Program; served as chair of Women's Studies Department.
Canadian Women's Studies Association (founding member and president, 1982-83), Peace History Society (president, 1997-98).
Warren K. Kuehl Award in Peace/International History, for A World without War.
A World without War: How U.S. Feminists and Pacifists Resisted World War I, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 1997.
(Editor, with Kathleen Kennedy) Athena's Daughters: Television's New Women Warriors, foreword by Rhonda V. Wilcox, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 2003.
Advisory board member, H-Peace.
Writer, educator, and historian Frances H. Early is a tenured professor of history. For almost two decades, since the mid-1980s, her academic research has focused on "women/gender in relation to peace and war," she commented on Humanities and Social Sciences Online. A product of this historical research in peace activism is Early's book A World without War: How U.S. Feminists and Pacifists Resisted World War I. Early's analysis "explicates the connections among antiwar activism, feminism, and civil liberties," noted Stephanie Gilmore in the Journal of Women's History. She places her investigation in the context of a close examination of the New York-based Bureau of Legal Advice (BLA), a short-lived advocacy organization that combined the dispensing of legal advice with feminist peace activism for three years from 1917 to 1920. The key players in Early's history are Frances Witherspoon and Tracy Mygatt, founders and operators of the BLA, lifelong partners, early feminists, and dedicated peace activists. The Bureau provided legal advice to antiwar and feminist groups that operated during the era of World War I. The BLA rose in a political environment in which criticism of the government was harshly dealt with, dissent was actively suppressed, and the legal system functioned to decisively punish and deter nonconformist attitudes. The BLA, under Witherspoon and Mygatt, rallied to the defense of protestors, conscientious objectors, political prisoners, and those whose civil rights had been compromised within the United States. The mainstay of the group's work was representing individuals, often poor and often immigrants, who were charged with subverting the war effort and who were unable to afford legal representation to resist the government's abuses. The group also worked with families whose main breadwinner had been illegally drafted; with people who had been punished or who lost their jobs for reasons as spurious as lacking patriotic enthusiasm; and with labor radicals who faced deportation in the postwar years. In the end, the Bureau of Legal Advice could not sustain itself, but the work of the organization and its founders led to the creation of important follow-on organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Early's volume "contribute[s] vitally to the fields of peace and women's history," commented Anne Marie Pois in Labour/Le Travail. Booklist reviewer Brian McCombie called the book "a compelling look at two women who refused to give in to political injustice." Pois called the book a "lucid, beautifully written, and well-researched" history that contributes substantially to the "ongoing project of creating a peace culture."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 1997, Brian McCombie, review of A World without War: How U.S. Feminists and Pacifists Resisted World War I, p. 681.
Journal of Women's History, winter, 2000, Stephanie Gilmore, review of A World without War, p. 202. Labour/Le Travail, spring, 2001, Anne Marie Pois, review of A World without War, p. 242.
Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.hnet.org/ (September 23, 2006), profile of Frances H. Early.*