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To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done For America - A History

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  163 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
This landmark work of lesbian history focuses on how certain late-nineteenth-century and twentieth-century women whose lives can be described as lesbian were in the forefront of the battle to secure the rights and privileges that large numbers of Americans enjoy today. Lillian Faderman persuasively argues that their lesbianism may in fact have facilitated their accomplishm ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published June 8th 2000 by Mariner Books (first published 1999)
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Philly Aesthete Brown
I borrowed this hefty tome from the library when it was originally published in 1999, and recently bought myself a copy now that it's out in paperback. The awkwardly wordy title may give the impression that this book is one of those rather shallow surveys that tries to cram decades upon decades of historical information into a slight volume. It is not. Nor is it one of those corny 'great and little known facts & contributions books'. What it is is a scholarly and exhaustively researched (mos ...more
Mar 23, 2012 Graciela rated it really liked it
This book contains a lot of good "unknown" information regarding same sex relationships which most suffragists involved themselves in. There's a lot of excerpts from original letters written by Susan B Anthony among others - directed to their loved one. After taking a class about Women's history in America - I realized that women in the 18o0's were encouraged to participate in same sex romantic relationships. This of course was a result of the division of spheres 1. men 2. women. The women spher ...more
Jan 10, 2016 Nikki rated it really liked it
This isn't really a review so much as just thoughts.

I swear, every single introduction to any academic lesbian text is so damn apologetic for using the term 'lesbian.' Even when it is partially tongue in cheek and poking a bit of fun at the ridiculousness of being unable to use the term in academia, it still comes across as a bit apologetic. (Literally, once you have read so many of these texts it's a little maddening how they tiptoe around other academics.)

This one though: "I might have subtit
Morgan Dhu
Jan 17, 2015 Morgan Dhu rated it liked it
Liliian Faderman's book, To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done for America - A History, examines the contribution of American women we would now identify as lesbians to various areas of endeavour, including the women's suffrage movement, the settlement house movement, the establishment of higher education institutions for women, and the entry of women into the professions.

It is difficult to look back into the past and determine with absolute certainty the sexual lives of many of the women
Jul 28, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2011
I am so glad I found this book! It was as amazing and eye-opening as others have said. Faderman finally presents us with a full history of some of the most admired American women. I devoured this - it's scholarly but compulsively readable. Footnotes aren't digitized well, at least not in iBooks - it's hard to find what you want when you are reading.

One gripe: Faderman has something against stay-at-home moms. That's fine when she's railing against the housewife mystique of the 50s, but she is in
Nov 05, 2007 Linda rated it really liked it
Lillian Faderman appears to be specializing in books with long titles. This one continues that trend with "To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done For America - A History". This covers a period of time from the middle of the 19th through the middle of the 20th century and looks at the women who were the driving forces in women's suffrage, education and in professional and academic work.

Sadly, it contains a lot of names that we've never heard in a history class. The only two likely exception
Aug 07, 2011 Holly rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, nonfiction
Great book! Hard to put down if you enjoy stories of smart women going against the grain. Provides an ancestry to lesbian and bisexual women and an eye-opening historical account to anyone who grew up learning the straight-washed version of American women's history. Highly recommend!
Jan 16, 2008 ael rated it liked it
i know this is stupid, but i mostly enjoyed this book for celebrity-spotting (so is it just accepted knowledge nnow that Eleanor Roosevelt was a dyke?)and sentimental claspings of hands beneath moonlight caresses. I'm a sucker for womyn-loving-womyn Anne of Green Gables styleee.
Apr 01, 2011 Kellee rated it it was amazing
Amazing read. So many women we hear about as heroes all the time (such as Susan B. Anthony!), with lesbian inclinations, and we never hear about them. I never get to hear their history which is so affirming for me. This book is incredibly important.
Jun 07, 2008 Tina rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books. When I was growing up, you never heard of the women in this book. Yet they played prominent and integral roles in our history.
Thorn MotherIssues
Feb 13, 2013 Thorn MotherIssues rated it really liked it
So many fascinating little tidbits (Didja know Spelman was founded by a white lesbian couple? Huh???) and a fascinating overarching narrative. I really enjoyed it.
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Lillian Faderman is an internationally known scholar of lesbian history and literature, as well as ethnic history and literature. Among her many honors are six Lambda Literary Awards, two American Library Association Awards, and several lifetime achievement awards for scholarship. She is the author of The Gay Revolution and the New York Times Notable Books, Surpassing the Love of Men and Odd Girls ...more
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