Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution

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  • 1004 The Journal of American History December 2006

    to full state court opinions. The site contains manuscripts, reports, and correspondence re-garding school desegregation in Ann Arbor from the citys public schools archives. The site also contains images of desegregation in Char-lotte, North Carolina, and interesting images of early twentieth-century segregated schools, but, unfortunately, no images of Michigan schools. The site has an excellent set of re-search-related links. One of the most valuable is the Sweatt v. Painter Archive, http://www, which contains oral histories, trial court transcripts, and other important sources on this road to Brown case involving the University of Texas law school.

    Brown@50 will be especially useful for re-searchers focused on the legal questions in Brown and those interested in links to organi-zations engaged in ongoing civil rights work. This sites narrative of Browns history focuses mostly on the courts. It includes a link to three special issues of the Howard Law Journal that focus on Brown, which include essays by Ju-lian Bond, Mark Tushnet, and Richard Del-gado and Jean Stefancic. Brown@50 has the most extensive and wide-ranging list of rele-vant links, including ones to the sites of the naacp Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights un-der Law.

    While the sites under examination contain rich resources, they also tend to stay within a traditional conceptualization of the story of race in America. This trait is most apparent from what is absent. One aspect of Brown that is well documented in the secondary literature, but absent in all three sites, is its international context. The argument that racial segregation undermined the image of the United States and gave the Soviets an effective propaganda weapon was made by the Justice Department in its Brown brief and was part of the news commentary on the case. Relegating the for-eign affairs story to the sidelines might keep the focus on the plaintiffs in Brown narratives, but it also reinforces the idea that, at the end of the day, Brown was an enlightenment story. Bringing in American strategic interests helps us see that Barbara Johns and her fellow stu-dents did not simply awaken the moral con-science of America: They shed a global light

    on the nations Achilles heel, giving them the power to help move the nation. As Ameri-can history becomes internationalized, we can hope that a global vision will come as well to American history on the Web.

    Mary L. DudziakUniversity of Southern California Law SchoolLos Angeles, California

    Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution, Created and maintained by the Jewish Womens Archive, Brookline, Mass. Reviewed Jan. 26Feb. 23, 2006.

    Since its establishment in 1995, the Jewish Womens Archive (jwa) has been committed to digitizing as many records about Jewish women in America as exist. In doing so, it is arguing that history must be examined in gen-dered terms. The jwas online exhibit, Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution, exploits the online format to provide a rich, multilay-ered history of Jewish womens activism in the United States from 1963 through 1999.

    Broad definitions of Jewishness and femi-nism guide the exhibit. Orthodox womens ef-forts to gain more significant roles within the traditional structures of Judaism are placed alongside a lesbian rabbis contention that ho-mosexuals are the new lifeblood of Judaism. Furthermore, the exhibit highlights the activ-ism of many women who, although Jewish, have not focused their lives on Jewish issues. For example, Nina Totenberg, the National Public Radio reporter who broke the Anita Hill story in 1991, merits a place in the ex-hibit despite the fact that her accomplishment is not directly related to anything particularly Jewish. Similarly, Eve Enslers campaign to end violence against women is included without any mention of Enslers Jewish identity.

    The capaciousness of the exhibit, howev-er, is paired with a self-consciousness about the meaning of Jewishness and feminism. The creators of the exhibit, far from attempting to draw a natural link between the twoas if there is something intrinsically feminist in being Jewish or vice versaoffer serious crit-icism of both Jewishness and feminism. On one hand, they ask whether feminism has been

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  • 1005Web Site Reviews

    inclusive of all women, and they draw viewers attention to incidents of anti-Semitism within the womens movement. On the other hand, they feature the voices of women who have felt excluded or underserved by the Jewish com-munity. Susan Brownmiller, for example, who wrote Against Our Will (1975) about rape, ex-plains that she realized from a young age that only men could have power within Judaism: So much for Judaism, so much for religionI became an atheist, a secularist, and never looked back.

    The intellectual integrity of the exhibit is matched by the intelligence of its design. View-ers can access the information through a time-line, a series of thematic issues, and a search tool that digests the Web site into categories of people, dates, topics, and formats (for ex-ample, video, audio, visual art, and letters). Ar-tifacts ranging from historical documents and

    magazine covers to video clips, songs, and pho-tographs are paired with statements written by women activists and short biographies of those women. Terms and events that might be unfa-miliar to viewers are glossed in a separate win-dow. My only reservation about the format is that the mechanism for scrolling through the text is a little clunky, which makes it difficult to follow any particular reading beyond the first screen.

    Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution is an invaluable contribution to womens history, American history, and Jewish history. It is eas-ily accessible and would enhance a high school or college-level class as much as it would en-lighten any Web surfer eager to learn more about Jewish women and feminism.

    Lila Corwin BermanPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park, Pennsylvania

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