African American Women's History Top Ten Booklist
African American Women’s History exploded onto the scene in the wake of second wave feminism. As the convergence of the Black Studies and Women’s Studies movements picked up steam, Black women challenged both. The subfield emerged and began to quickly rethink the experiences of enslavement, labor, the suffrage movement, and institution building. Their work produced the founding of the Association of Black Women Historians in 1979. Today, more and more scholarship is emerging demonstrating the roles that African American women continue to play in areas as vast as American institutional life and radical movements. Some of the pioneering works in these areas are constitute this list. This list begins with a work that provided the inspiration for those works which emerged near the end of the twentieth century.
1. Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South. Xenia, OH: Aldine Printing House, 1892.
This work was published as an early call to write the unique experiences of African American women. Its author has inspired many of the writers and thinkers on this list.
2. Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. New York: Morrow, 1984.
A narrative history that traces Black Women’s history from the late nineteenth century.
3. Darlene Clark Hine, ed. Black Women in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
This is a major encyclopedia of Black women’s history, edited by a major figure in the field.
4. Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present. New York: Basic Books, 1985.
A critical look at questions of Black women and labor.
5. Deborah Gray White, Ar’n’t I A Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South. New York: Norton, 1985.
Part of the emergent field of slavery studies and women’s history, this work reset the frame for thinking Black women’s antebellum experiences in the South.
6. Bettye Collier-Thomas and V.P. Franklin, eds. Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement. New York: NYU Press, 2001.
A collection that assesses the meaning of the Civil Rights era through the lens of Black women.
7. Rosalyn Terborg- Penn, African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998.
A look at Black women and the suffrage movement.
8. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Church, 1880-1920. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.
A classic study of Black women and the Black church, that helps us understanding a critical era in Black women’s history, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
9. Dayo Gore, Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women’s Activists in the Cold War. New York: NYU Press, 2011.
A more recent volume which looks at Black women and radical leftist movements.
10. Stephanie Camp, Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2004.
An examination of forms of resistance in enslaved women’s communities.