Borrowing from Our Foremothers


Borrowing from Our Foremothers

Reexamining the Women's Movement through Material Culture, 1848-2017

Amy Helene Forss

312 pages
10 photographs, 21 illustrations, Cast of Foremothers, appendix, index


December 2021


$60.00 Pre-order

About the Book

Borrowing from Our Foremothers offers a panorama of women’s struggles through artifacts to establish connections between the generations of women’s right activists. In a thorough historical retelling of the women’s movement from 1848 to 2017, Amy Helene Forss focuses on items borrowed from our innovative foremothers, including cartes de visite, clothing, gavels, sculptures, urns, service pins, and torches.

Framing the material culture items within each era’s campaigns yields a wider understanding of the women’s metanarrative. Studded with relics and ninety-nine oral histories from such women as Rosalynn Carter to Pussyhat Project cocreator Krista Suh, this book contributes an important and illuminating analysis necessary for understanding the development of feminism as well as our current moment.

Author Bio

Amy Helene Forss serves as Metropolitan Community College’s History Program chair and Social Sciences Department corepresentative in Omaha, Nebraska. She is the author of Black Print with a White Carnation: Mildred Brown and the “Omaha Star” Newspaper, 1938–1989 (Nebraska, 2014).


Borrowing from Our Foremothers is about historical connectedness—the dots, moments, and artifacts that make up the history of U.S. feminism. One of the [book’s] strengths is its highlighting of African American women and their often-overlooked leadership roles in the American feminist movement. The interviews the author conducted for the book are many and impressive. They are a valuable and unique contribution.”—Mary K. Trigg, author of Feminism as Life’s Work: Four Modern American Women through Two World Wars

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Part 1. Demanding Suffrage
1. Setting the Stage
2. Parading Their Colors
3. Silently Disobedient
Part 2. Challenging Boundaries
4. Addressing the Doldrums
5. LGBTQ Feminists
6. Lighting the Way
Part 3. Redefining Equality
7. Dueling Gavels
8. Stopping the ERA
9. Standing Her Ground
Cast of Foremothers

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