Breaking the Wave is the first anthology of original essays by both younger and established scholars that takes a long view of feminist activism by systematically examining the dynamics of movement persistence during moments of reaction and backlash. Ranging from the "civic feminism" of white middle-class organizers and the "womanism" of Harlem consumers in the immediate postwar period, to the utopian feminism of Massachusetts lesbian softball league founders and environmentally minded feminists in the 1970s and 1980s, Breaking the Wave documents a continuity of activism in both national and local organizing that creates a new discussion, and a new paradigm, for twentieth century women’s history.

Contributors: Jacqueline L. Castledine, Susan K. Freeman, Julie A. Gallagher, Marcia Gallo, Sally J. Kenney, Rebecca M. Kluchin, Kathleen A. Laughlin, Lanethea Mathews, Catherine E. Rymph, Julia Sandy-Bailey, Jennifer A. Stevens, Janet Weaver, and Leandra Zarnow.

chapter |8 pages


The Long History of Feminism 1
ByKathleen A. Laughlin

part |54 pages

Mainstream, Leftist, and Sexual Politics

chapter |17 pages

Civic Feminists

The Politics of the Minnesota Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, 1942–1965
ByKathleen A. Laughlin

chapter |19 pages

The Legal Origins of “The Personal Is Political”

Bella Abzug and Sexual Politics in Cold War America
ByLeandra Zarnow

chapter |16 pages

“I'm Glad as Heck That You Exist”

Feminist Lesbian Organizing in the 1950s
ByMarcia Gallo

part |50 pages

Women's Global Visions

chapter |15 pages

Exporting Civic Womanhood

Gender and Nation Building
ByCatherine E. Rymph

chapter |14 pages

From Ladies' Aid to NGO

Transformations in Methodist Women's Organizing in Postwar America
ByA. Lanethea Mathews-Gardner

part |76 pages

The Politics of Location

chapter |21 pages

The Consumers' Protective Committee

Women's Activism in Postwar Harlem
ByJulia Sandy-Bailey

chapter |19 pages

“Pregnant? Need Help? Call Jane”

Service as Radical Action in the Abortion Underground in Chicago
ByRebecca M. Kluchin

chapter |18 pages

Feminizing Portland, Oregon

A History of the League of Women Voters in the Postwar Era, 1950–1975
ByJennifer A. Stevens

chapter |16 pages

Barrio Women

Community and Coalition in the Heartland
ByJanet Weaver

part |57 pages

Feminist Consciousness and Movement Persistence

chapter |18 pages

“Stop That Rambo Shit… This Is Feminist Softball”

Reconsidering Women's Organizing in the Reagan Era and Beyond
ByJacqueline L. Castledine, Julia Sandy-Bailey

chapter |20 pages

“It Would Be Stupendous for Us Girls” 1

Campaigning for Women Judges Without Waving
BySally J. Kenney

chapter |17 pages

Building Lesbian Studies in the 1970s and 1980s

BySusan K. Freeman

chapter |6 pages


Looking Backward, Looking Forward
ByJacqueline L. Castledine