Jensen, Joan M(aria) 1934-
JENSEN, Joan M(aria) 1934-
PERSONAL: Born December 9, 1934, in St. Paul, MN; daughter of Charles J. (an army officer, landscape architect, and salesperson) and Theresa C. (a homemaker; maiden name, Schopp) Tinucci. Education: University of California—Los Angeles, B.A., 1957, M.A., 1959, Ph.D., 1962; New Mexico State University, M.A., 1997.
CAREER: U.S. International University, San Diego, CA, 1962-71, began as assistant professor, 1962-67, associate professor of history, 1967-71; New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, assistant professor, 1976-78, associate professor, 1978-82, professor of history, 1982-93, professor emerita, 1994—, director of women's studies program, 1989-92. Visiting assistant professor at Arizona State University, 1974-75; visiting lecturer at University of California—Los Angeles, 1975-76; visiting professor at University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1987; senior Fulbright professor at University of Bremen, 1988, and Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, India, 1992; lecture tour of India, U.S. Information Agency, 1994.
MEMBER: American Historical Association (Pacific Coast branch: president-elect, 1996), Organization of American Historians (executive board, 1988-91), Western Historical Association, Coordinating Committee of Women in the Historical Profession, Agricultural History Society (vice-president and president, 1991-93), Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.
AWARDS, HONORS: Zia Award, New Mexico Presswomen, 1986, and Governor's Award for Historic Preservation, 1987, both for New Mexico Women: Intercultural Perspectives; Sierra Prize, Western Association of Women Historians, 1987, and E. Harold Hugo Memorial Book Prize, Old Sturbridge Village Research Library Society, 1988, both for Loosening the Bonds: Mid-Atlantic Farm Women, 1750-1850.
The Price of Vigilance, Rand McNally (Chicago, IL), 1968.
Military Surveillance of Civilians in America, General Learning Press (Morristown, NJ), 1974.
(Editor) With These Hands: Women Working on theLand, Feminist Press/McGraw (Old Westbury, NY), 1981.
Teaching Guide for With These Hands, Feminist Press/McGraw (Old Westbury, NY), 1981.
(Editor, with Lois Scharf) Decades of Discontent: TheWomen's Movement, 1920-1940, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1982.
(Editor, with Sue Davidson) A Needle, A Bobbin, AStrike: Women Needleworkers in America, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1984.
(Editor, with Darlis A. Miller) New Mexico Women:Intercultural Perspectives, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1986.
(With Gloria Ricci Lothrop) California Women: A History, Boyd & Fraser (San Francisco, CA), 1987.
Promise to the Land: Essays on Rural Women, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1991.
Army Surveillance in America, 1775-1980, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1991.
One Foot on the Rockies: Women and Creativity in theModern American West, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1995.
Contributor to various history journals. Also contributor to history books, including Labor in the West, edited by Hugh Lovin, Sunflower University Press, 1987, and Essays in Twentieth-Century New Mexico History, edited by Judith Boyce DeMark, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1994. Editorial board, Pacific Historical Review, 1982-95. Guest coeditor of Frontiers and Agricultural History.
SIDELIGHTS: Joan M. Jensen, a professor emerita of New Mexico State University, has long had an interest in history and women's studies and her books reflect her predilection for these topics.
With These Hands documents the lives of women who worked America's farmland from the early nineteenth century almost to the present day. Jensen collected letters, diaries, and oral histories, then supplemented the original documents with songs and tales about America's women. The author's careful choice of subject matter and juxtaposition of contrasting perspectives provides the reader with a sense of continuity that critics found to be sensitive and touching. Carole Bovoso wrote in the Village Voice: "I was particularly moved by a Norwegian farm woman's account of the massacre of her family in Minnesota. . . . This is particularly heartbreaking next to . . . a Cheyenne woman's description of her people's doomed last attempt to re-establish their roots in Montana after the battle of Little Bighorn."
Jensen begins her history with the earliest American women farmers, the native Americans and the pioneer women who pushed America's boundaries westward. In With These Hands the accounts of enslaved black women are placed next to the letters of white women who lived in isolated parts of the American South. Later in the book, the author includes more recent documents by immigrant farm workers from Puerto Rico and Mexico. Thus the work reflects women's attitudes over the years to such male-dominated issues as agrarian reform, organized protest, and the plight of the migrant worker. Bovoso reflected: "There is so much information here that . . . many books ought to be culled from this one." The critic felt that "the richness, the spirituality inherent in its pages," reflects a universal story and a sense that the pioneer spirit of America's women has not diminished over the years.
In 1984, Jensen and Sue Davidson edited A Needle, A Bobbin, A Strike: Women Needleworkers in America, a collection of essays that follow the evolution of needlework labor in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This work documents the intensive labor and long hours involved in the needlework industry, and the accompanying employer exploitation, workers' protests, strikes, and eventual unionization of the sewing trades. The Temple University Press Web site cited a Library Journal critic who felt that "The contributors have added new dimensions" that will broaden the reader's understanding of the complex interweaving of cultural, economic and technological factors in the needlework industry.
Loosening the Bonds: Mid-Atlantic Farm Women, 1750-1850 details the lives of poor farm women living in the Philadelphia area during the century before the Civil War. Jensen utilized a wide range of source material for this book: farm almanacs, property inventories, census lists, and the journals of doctors and midwives. She also presents the thoughts and words of the women of that period and examines the Quaker Movement and its effect upon mid-Atlantic culture. Looseningthe Bonds was highly regarded by many reviewers and Yale University Press called the book "a major contribution to women's history."
Her next work, Army Surveillance in America, 1775-1980, is an in-depth look at U.S. military surveillance, from the betrayal of West Point by Benedict Arnold to the government's close scrutiny of Vietnam War protestors and its violent reaction to them.
Jensen turned her attention to women artists in her book, One Foot on the Rockies: Women and Creativity in the Modern American West. In this work, she explores the lives and work of painters, writers, craftsmen, photographers and dancers living in the West, including Georgia O'Keeffe, Joseppa Dick (a Pomo basket maker), Ntozake Shange and Isadora Duncan. "A moving critical study. . . . [filled with] concise and compelling portrayals," wrote a reviewer for the Books Under Review Web site.
Jensen explained her view of the historian's role in contemporary American society in an interview with Roger Adelson in The Historian: "Historians are more important in the United States than they have been in the past because they are expected to provide history in more diverse forms to various audiences. Policymakers want carefully detailed studies of the past to help them understand the complex origins of present politics. Visitors to museums and historic sites want accurate but not-too-complicated versions of the past from public historians. Media producers expect to use our specialized work for their mass-audience productions. We teach students who have far greater differences in experience than the students academic professors taught in the past. Historians may not always produce bestsellers, but their work provides the best, most carefully researched versions of the past that we have."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, October, 1969.
The Historian, Volume 56, number 2, winter, 1994, p. 245-258.
New York Times Book Review, May 22, 1988.
Village Voice, November 25, 1981.
Virginia Quarterly Review, autumn, 1986.
Books Under Review,http://www.booksunderreview.com (August 19, 2003), review of One Foot on the Rockies: Women and Creativity in the Modern American West.
Temple University Press,http://www.temple.edu/tempress/ (August 16, 2003), reprint of a Library Journal review of A Needle, A Bobbin, A Strike.*