Here are women who are shapers of history, as well as its victims. In diaries, letters, speeches, songs, petitions, essays, photographs, and cartoons they describe, rejoice, exhort, complain, advertise, and joke, revealing women's role as community builders in every time and locale and registering their emergence into the public spheres of political, social, and economic life. The documents also demonstrate the value of gender analysis, for women's differences—in age, race, sexual orientation, class, geographical or ethnic origin, abilities or disabilities, and values—are shown to be as important as their commonalities.
Volume 1, which comprises 153 selections, opens with a Navajo origin myth and presents Native American, Hispanic, African, and Euro-American women from the sixteenth century through the Civil War. Both volumes include section introductions that set the historical stage and comment on the significance of the selections.