Gordon, Linda 1940–
Gordon, Linda 1940–
(Irene Linda Gordon)
PERSONAL: Born January 19, 1940, in Chicago, IL; daughter of William (a social worker) and Helen (a nursery school teacher and child-welfare activist; maiden name, Appelman) Gordon; married Allen Hunter; children: Rosie Gordon Hunter. Education: Swarthmore College, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1961; Yale University, M.A., 1963, Ph.D. (with distinction), 1970.
CAREER: Historian, educator, and writer. University of Massachusetts, Boston, instructor, 1968–69, assistant professor, 1970–75, associate professor, 1975–81, professor of history, 1981–84; University of Wisconsin, Madison, professor of history, 1984–90, Florence Kelley Professor of History, 1990–2000, Vilas Distinguished Research Professor, 1993–2000; New York University, New York, NY, professor of history, 2000–. Scholar in residence, Stanford University, summer, 1979, Dickinson College, summer, 1987; Bunting Institute fellow, Radcliffe College, 1983–84; visiting professor, University of Amsterdam, 1984; Bird Memorial Lecturer, University of Maine, 1986; invited residency, Bellagio Center, Italy, 1992; Swarthmore College, Eugene Lang Visiting Professor, 2001; Princeton University, Lawrence Stone Visiting Professor, 2004.
Has given numerous academic lectures, presented papers, and participated in conferences and annual meetings throughout the world; manuscript and proposal referee for many national organizations and presses, including National Endowment for the Humanities, Temple University Press, Columbia University Press, University of California Press, Northeastern University Press, University of Illinois Press, Oxford University Press, American Council of Learned Societies, National Humanities Center, Woodrow Wilson Center, Harvard University Press, Yale University Press, Princeton University Press, university presses of California, Cambridge, Chicago, Columbia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Northeastern, Ohio, Oxford, Temple, Canadian Social Science Research Council, and U.K. Social Science Research Council. Lecturer at numerous universities and colleges. Consultant/adviser to numerous local, civic, academic, media, and government organizations.
Also worked as a consultant and historian for television production and videotape productions, including Spare the Rod: the Politics of Child Abuse, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), 1988; War on Poverty, 1994–95, PBS; The Roots of Roe, Connecticut Public Television, 1994; The Troubled American Family, 1996; Family in Crisis, 1996; Children of the Great Depression, American History Project; Barbie!, KCTS-TV; History of Birth Control, Perini Productions; A Century of Woman, Paramount Studios; History Matters Web site; and Encyclopaedia Britannica Web site on women's history, 1998. Also guest on numerous television and radio programs, including those on PBS and National Public Radio (NPR).
MEMBER: American Historical Association (member of program committee, 1981), Organization of American Historians (member of nominating committee, 1988–90, executive board, 1991–94, lecturer, 1991–, minority historian committee, 1992–94, Turner Prize committee, 1994–95), Social Science History Association, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (elected member), Society of American Historians (elected member), Alan Guttmacher Institute (board of directors).
AWARDS, HONORS: National Book Award in History nomination, 1976, for Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, and 1988, for Heroes of Their Own Lives: The Politics and History of Family Violence, Boston, 1880–1960; National Institute of Mental Health grant, 1979–82; National Endowment for Humanities fellow, 1979; American Council of Learned Societies travel grant, 1980; Outstanding Achievement Award, University of Massachusetts, 1982–83; Antonovych Prize, 1983, for Cossack Rebellions: Social Turmoil in the Sixteenth-Century Ukraine; Guggenheim fellowship, 1983–84, 1987; American Council of Learned Societies/Ford Foundation fellowship, 1985; University of Wisconsin graduate school research awards, 1985–95; Joan Kelley Prize for best book in women's history or theory of the American Historical Association, Wisconsin Library Association Award, 1988, for Heroes of Their Own Lives: The Politics and History of Family Violence, Boston, 1880–1960; American Philosophical Society Research Award, 1988–89; Chicago Women in Publishing award, 1990, for Women, the State, and Welfare; Berkshire Prize for best book in women's history, and Gustavus Myers Award, both 1995, both for Pitied but Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the Origins of Welfare; Bancroft and Beveridge Prize, 1999, and Banta Award, Wisconsin Library Association, 2000, both for The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction.
Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, Viking (New York, NY), 1976, updated and revised edition published as The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 2002.
(Editor, with Rosalyn Baxandall and Susan Reverby) America's Working Women: A Documentary History, Random House (New York, NY), 1976, 2nd revised edition, 1995.
(Editor) Maternity: Letters from Working Women (originally published in London, England, 1915), Norton (New York, NY), 1979.
Cossack Rebellions: Social Turmoil in the Sixteenth-Century Ukraine, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1982.
Heroes of Their Own Lives: The Politics and History of Family Violence, Boston, 1880–1960, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
(Editor) Women, the State, and Welfare, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 1990.
(Author of introduction) Taking Child Abuse Seriously, Unwin Hyman (London, England), 1990.
Pitied but Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the Origins of Welfare, Free Press (New York, NY), 1994.
The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.
(Editor, with Rosalyn Baxandall) Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women's Liberation Movement, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor, with Gary Y. Okihiro) Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment, Norton (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to many anthologies and encyclopedias, including Encyclopedia of the American Left, Encyclopedia of American Women's History, and Encyclopedia of American History. Contributor of articles and reviews to numerous periodicals and newspapers, including New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Dissent, Chronicle of Higher Education, Against the Current, and Nation. Member of editorial board, American Historical Review, 1990–93, Contemporary Sociology, 1994–, Journal of American History and Journal of Policy History, both 1994–97, and of Signs, Feminist Studies, Journal of Women's History, Contention, and Gender and History; referee for many scholarly journals.
SIDELIGHTS: Linda Gordon specializes in examining the historical origins of modern social policy debates, especially those concerning gender and family issues. For example, in her 1988 book Heroes of Their Own Lives: The Politics and History of Family Violence, Boston, 1880–1960, the author discusses the history and roots of family violence and how society has responded to it by focusing on a series of case studies documented in various Boston agencies over an eighty-year period. The case studies highlight four different types of family violence as cited by Gordon: battering, child neglect, abuse, and incest. The author discusses such issues as how these four types of violence are linked and how family violence is a social problem that should be addressed in a more comprehensive manner. "Gordon's book shows how cultural attitudes … and governmental policies can inflame 'human foibles,'" wrote Laura Elliot in the Washington Monthly. "As such, her … [book] is excellent cautionary reading for policymakers entrusted with making the American home safe."
In America's Working Women: A Documentary History, Gordon and coeditor Rosalyn Baxandall collected documents and essays focusing on the labor history of women, from farm to garment and factory workers to secretaries. In a review of the second revised edition, Booklist contributor Donna Seaman called the book a "remarkable anthology" and noted that the revised edition "is a mind expanding survey." As editor of Women, the State, and Welfare, Gordon presents an interdisciplinary look at the relationship between women rights and the state. Writing in the Nation, Eileen Boris noted that the collection "brings together some of the best feminist thinking on" the subject.
Gordon focuses on the welfare state and single mothers in her book Pitied but Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the Origins of Welfare. Written in the early 1990s when a debate over welfare reform was taking place in Washington, DC, this historical analysis looks at the social, economic, and political roots that formed the welfare state with a gendered perspective focusing on women. She discusses such issues as the role played by social workers and settlement houses, the depression, and various social movements in helping to develop the welfare state. In a review in the Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Heather Jon Maroney wrote: "The study contributes to two debates: first, about the nature, mode and timing of the US welfare state; and second, about the utility of neo-institutionalist as opposed to society-centered perspectives to explain its origins." The reviewer went on to comment: "This study, which happily does not try to universalize American experience, provides an excellent basis for comparisons with policy and retrenchment strategies in other welfare states." Writing in Booklist, Mary Carroll called the book an "enlightening exploration of the causes and consequences of unexamined assumptions." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the book was a "cogent, timely study."
Gordon turns her attention to a little known episode in U.S. history with her book The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction. This time she focuses on a 1904 incident in Arizona when forty Irish-Catholic children from New York were adopted by Mexicans in a mining town. When the children arrived accompanied by Catholic nuns, outraged Caucasians of the town took the children from the nuns and the new adopted families by gunpoint. Racial tensions ran high and the vigilantes nearly hanged a local priest. Vanessa Bush, writing in Booklist, noted that the author "uses news accounts and court transcripts to render a compelling account." In a review in the Library Journal, Duncan Stewart noted that the author provides background on life in mining towns at the time and called these chapters "a powerful history of the miners' lives and a superior case study of emigrant labor." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "In delineating the racial and religious dynamics in turn-of-the-century Arizona,… Gordon reveals a great deal about the origins of 'family values' in America." Laurel Joy Spindel noted in Social Service Review that the author "has provided a stimulating narrative that opens a window onto class, race, and gender relations in the Southwest."
Gordon teamed up with Baxandall once again to serve as coeditor of Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women's Liberation Movement. Featuring original documents covering the years 1968 through 1977, the book includes articles, position papers, leaflets, and even cartoons, all focusing on the feminist movement. "Middle-aged feminists will greet with delight this wide-ranging compilation," wrote Cynthia Harrison in the Library Journal. Mary Carroll, writing in Booklist, called the book "eclectic and valuable." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that Gordon and Baxandall "offer a broad historical perspective … while avoiding the rhetoric of victimization."
Gordon's first book was published in 1976 and titled Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America. In her 2002 updated and revised edition, published as The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America, the author analyzes birth control issues as part of a broad historical context involving political and social differences focusing on issues of gender, class, and race. The volume includes both revised chapters and three new chapters, including a chapter looking at HIV/AIDS and a chapter on the 1990s and the politics surrounding abortion and contraception. Writing in the Historian, Joyce Avrech Berkman noted that the intervening years since the first edition was published "has enabled Gordon more fully to illuminate continuities and interconnections among historical eras." Science & Society contributor Rosemary Hennessy wrote: "Gordon's effort to situate birth control in the material history of women's lives gives her history its analytical edge." Hennessy went on to comment: "In the end, Linda Gordon's revised history of birth control reminds us that women's bodies remain battlefields crossed by the ideological and property relations of the societies in which we live."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dimock, editor, Visions of History: Conversations with Radical Historians, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1984.
Feminist Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, August, 1994, Mary Carroll, review of Pitied but Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the Origins of Welfare, p. 2001; March 15, 1995, Donna Seaman, review of America's Working Women: A Documentary History, p. 1288; November 15, 1999, Vanessa Bush, review of The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, p. 583; January 1, 2000, review of The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, p. 816; September 1, 2000, Mary Carroll, review of Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women's Liberation Movement, p. 38.
Historian, fall, 2004, Joyce Avrech Berkman, review of The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America, p. 58.
Journal of Comparative Family Studies, autumn, 1997, Heather Jon Maroney, review of Pitied but Not Entitled, p. 337.
Journal of Social History, winter, 1995, Ruth Brannon, review of Pitied but Not Entitled, 460.
Journal of Urban History, January, 1998, Michael B. Katz, review of Pitied but Not Entitled, p. 244.
Library Journal, October 1, 1999, Duncan Stewart, review of The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, p. 109; August, 2000, Cynthia Harrison, review of Dear Sisters, p. 134.
Nation, April 22, 1991, Eileen Boris, review of Women, the State, and Welfare, p. 526; October 24, 1994, Ruth Sidel, review of Pitied but Not Entitled, p. 462.
New Republic, December 26, 1994, Deborah A. Stone, review of Pitied but Not Entitled, p. 27.
Off Our Backs, February, 2001, Carol Anne Douglas, review of Dear Sisters, p. 16.
Progressive, January, 1995, Ruth Conniff, review of Pitied but Not Entitled, p. 47; April, 2000, Daphne Eviatar, review of The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, p. 42.
Publishers Weekly, July 25, 1994, review of Pitied but Not Entitled, p. 39; October 11, 1999, review of The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, p. 63; July 24, 2000, review of Dear Sisters, p. 81.
Science & Society, spring, 2004, Rosemary Hennessy, review of The Moral Property of Women, p. 120.
Signs, autumn, 1997, Johanna Brenner, review of Pitied but Not Entitled, p. 232.
Social Service Review, September, 2000, Laurel Joy Spindel, review of The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, p. 493.
Tikkun, January-February, 1995, Ruth Rosen, review of Pitied but Not Entitled, p. 75.
Washington Monthly, February, 1988, Laura Elliot, review of Heroes of Their Own Lives: The Politics and History of Family Violence, Boston, 1880–1960, p. 60.
Yale Law Journal, April, 1996, Dorothy E. Roberts, review of Pitied but Not Entitled, pp. 1563-1602.
Wisconsin Library Association Web site, http://www.wla.lib.wi.us/ (November 28, 2005), Banta Award announcement and profile of author.