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Journal of Women's History 13.2 (2001) 204-223
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Abstracts of Books
Marjorie Agosín. Uncertain Travelers: Conversations with Jewish Women Immigrants to America. Hanover: Brandeis University Press, 2000. vii + 214 pp.; ill.; no bibliography. ISBN 0-87451-945-4 (cl).
Marjorie Agosín, a Chilean immigrant and professor of Spanish at Wellesley College, interviewed nine Jewish women who immigrated to the United States during the last three decades. Their experiences complicate notions of the immigrant journey. Most of these women immigrated not once, but several times during the course of their lives. Many fled the Nazi persecutions of the 1930s with their families, grew up in different European countries or South America, only to become immigrants again when they moved to the United States as adults. The women's Jewishness adds a further layer of complexity to their stories: one Italian family in the 1930s, for instance, was nearly turned away at the New York City port after American Jewish aid workers accused them of being imposters because they could not understand Yiddish. Language plays a central role in these stories of travel, gain, and loss. The interviews are presented in chronological order starting with the oldest immigrant, born in 1929, and concluding with a conversation with Cuban-Jewish anthropologist Ruth Behar born in 1956. Photographs accompanying each interview allow the reader to see the travelers both as children and as adults.------Mary McCune
Lynne Atwood. Creating the New Soviet Woman: Women's Magazines as Engineers of Female Identity, 1922-1953. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999. v + 213 pp. ISBN 0-312-22544-X (cl).
Using the magazines Rabotnitsa, geared at female workers, and Krest'yanka, aimed at female farm workers, Lynne Atwood examines the messages encountered by Soviet women in the popular press from the New Economic Policy to Stalin's death. Atwood details the movement from what she calls the "rationalist" construction of women's identity in the early period to a more "romantic" notion of their abilities and responsibilities in the Stalin era. As well as examining the contrasts between masculine and feminine roles, Atwood looks at political consciousness, Soviet citizenship, and attitudes toward non-Russian peoples. The author allows the nonspecialist in Russian history access by giving thorough introductions and situating the magazine's tales in the larger historical narrative. The deconstruction of fiction from the magazines is especially deft and interesting. ------Tricia Starks [End Page 204]
Carolyn Terry Bashaw. "Stalwart Women": A Historical Analysis of Deans of Women in the South. New York: Teachers College Press, 1999. xv + 163 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-8077-6300-4 (cl); 0-8077-6299-7 (pb).
Bashaw contributes a new chapter to women's history with her analysis of four Deans of Women in coeducational, non-elite institutions in the South. She traces the evolution of women's role in college administration from one of supervision to one of advocacy, as early twentieth century women created a new professional field for academic women. Bashaw's subjects are a valuable addition to the historical record. While obtaining their educations, these four women were also involved in a variety of work situations in venues such as an Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, a State Agricultural School in Georgia, and the public park system in Kentucky. They also served with the YWCA, with extension services for farm wives in Florida, and on war work councils on behalf of women industrial workers. Later, all four became leaders in the National Association of Deans of Women, an organization that had been dominated by northeastern and midwestern deans. They were active during the Depression, a period when the organization came close to dissolving. Bashaw's "stalwart women" developed a broad based advocacy for academic women, students, faculty, and administrators, both on and off campus. The author contends that they faced numerous challenges to their professional aspirations based on gender, marital status (single), and location (South). Although the position of Dean of Women has, for the most part, disappeared, Bashaw makes a strong case for a continuing need for senior academic women to speak forcefully on behalf of...