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Voices without Votes
Women and Politics in Antebellum New England
Ronald J. Zboray, Mary Saracino Zboray

Revisiting New England

New Hampshire
2010 • 320 pp. 14 illus. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
History / Women's Studies

$35.00 Paperback, 978-1-58465-868-9

This meticulously researched book offers important new insights into women’s contributions to New England politics during the antebellum period. The authors . . . assert that many New England women became eager partisans... [continued in Reviews below]”—Choice

Revelatory scholarship about New England women engaging mainstream politics in the antebellum period

Based on meticulous and original archival research, this study definitively shows that despite contemporary “woman’s sphere” prescriptions advising them to stay out of public affairs, a number of New England women in the antebellum era amply demonstrated political consciousness and proffered partisan opinions with little social reprobation for having overstepped their “proper” role. Voices without Votes rescues the “voices” of these women who, though barred from voting, nevertheless thought and acted in a deeply political manner. This long-awaited volume offers a startling counter to the traditional view that antebellum politics was solely a man’s world.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“This meticulously researched book offers important new insights into women’s contributions to New England politics during the antebellum period. The authors . . . assert that many New England women became eager partisans who not only understood the issues but also shaped the debates of the era through letters, petitions, and public demonstrations . . . a book that will be of great use to scholars of both antebellum women and politics. Recommended.”Choice

Voices without Votes succeeds as an engaging social history, bringing to life the many voices, actions, and aspirations of antebellum women who strongly identified with partisan politics. The Zborays provide impressive evidence of women’s political engagement, and their efforts will undoubtedly inspire further studies highlighting the central roles played by women and gender in American political life.” H-Net

“The authors claim that during the antebellum period, New England women saw their political activities as a way both to express their own political convictions and to collaborate with men to influence American politics. In the process, however, they exposed their awareness that they were trespassing on male territory by often expressing their political opinions using what the authors call a ‘rhetoric of diffidence.’ Participation in politics sometimes reflected female anxieties about the safety and economic well-being of their Canada and the United States families, but, in general, women’s political concerns and rhetoric paralleled those of men. . . . this book is a welcome addition to the literature on American women and politics.”American Historical Review

“Women in the nineteenth century played many roles, and this study helps us understand how important politics were to many of them—even though the vote remained elusive.” —Journal of American History

“Ronald and Mary Zboray have established themselves as premier scholars in the closely related fields of reader reception studies and the history of the book, and their latest project is yet another major contribution. Voices without Votes challenges a long-standing conviction about antebellum readers, demonstrating that women not only read newspapers with the same enthusiasm as their male counterparts, but also identified with the partisan politics that filled their pages.”—Mary Kelley, Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan

“With the stunning scholarship presented in Voices without Votes, the Zborays have rewritten antebellum women’s history by retrieving the words and deeds of disfranchised women who were nonetheless actively engaged in American political life. The news here is startling, but rings with the truth of complexity, reminding us that it is the job of historians to complicate accepted notions of the past. The Zborays succeed magnificently.”—Megan Marshall, author of The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism

“This is an exciting and first-rate piece of scholarship that breaks new historiographic ground, is engagingly written, and is securely grounded in extensive archival research. It is, simply put, the best book I have seen about American women and pre–Civil War politics.”—Michael D. Pierson, University of Massachusetts Lowell, author of Free Hearts and Free Homes: Gender and American Antislavery Politics

RONALD J. ZBORAY is Professor of Communication at the University of Pittsburgh. MARY SARACINO ZBORAY is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Communication, University of Pittsburgh. They have collaborated on and published numerous books and articles.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:04:00 -0500