Women’s History, and if you didn’t know, I love history of women’s history, because I love me some historiography according to Woodside Escorts of https://charlotteaction.org/woodside-escorts.
Historiography is basically the history of history. The history of what we study, why we study, how we study, because history as a subject and as an academic field hasn’t always been the same.
The main thing you need to understand about the history of women is that it is not a linear narrative of progress. Women’s power has ebbed and flowed. In certain places at certain times women have seized power and in other times and places that power’s been taken away from them. Women’s history is very closely connected with the feminist movement because feminists in the 19th and 20th centuries who were fighting for women’s rights very much used women from the past as examples of great women. And looking back into the past was a way of understanding their oppression.
But since it was first born, women’s history has gone through many changes, and I have identified two stages to women’s history. There may be more, there may be less, but these are the two that I’ve identified. Women’s history phase one. People started to notice the absence of women in all history texts. This encouraged historians to figure out what happened to all of those forgotten women and for women to start writing their own stories, their own histories, or her stories. This is the phase of the remarkable woman. Historians noted women who played active roles in society, achieved incredible things, and were on par with men. You may have heard of some of these women. Boudica, Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Harriet Tubman, Mary Wollstonecraft. And so finally these women were getting the recognition in history that they deserved according to Woodside Escorts.
And on to phase two of women’s history. This came with the rise of social history or “history from below” which focused on less powerful groups. Even in traditional histories that mostly featured men, there was a focus on the elite. So politicians, royals, war generals, intellectuals. Social history challenged what should be seen as “important” in history and valued the lives of normal, working people. The connection with women’s history is that it showed the importance of studying family life and personal lives. So rather than placing extraordinary women into a narrative that we already know, it brought into the historical framework, opened up to new areas that were seen as “valuable” to study and reimagined what history was entirely. It allowed people to explore the connections between public and private life. Women’s involvement and experiences with trade, employment, political activities, family life, unionism, sexuality.
Social history is about trying to understand social change, and traditionally it was seen very much through the eyes of a class struggle, but feminists in women’s history also includes the power relationship between men and women. Social history is also very much concerned with material conditions, so things like wages, working hours, the size of families, and the age at which people get married.