For the Many presents an inspiring look at how US women and their global allies pushed the nation and the world toward justice and greater equality for all. Reclaiming social democracy as one of the central threads of American feminism, Dorothy Sue Cobble offers a bold rewriting of twentieth-century feminist history and documents how forces, peoples, and ideas worldwide shaped American politics. Cobble follows egalitarian women’s activism from the explosion of democracy movements before World War I to the establishment of the New Deal, through the upheavals in rights and social citizenship at midcentury, to the reassertion of conservatism and the revival of female-led movements today.
Cobble brings to life the women who crossed borders of class, race, and nation to build grassroots campaigns, found international institutions, and enact policies dedicated to raising standards of life for everyone. Readers encounter famous figures, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, and Mary McLeod Bethune, together with less well-known leaders, such as Rose Schneiderman, Maida Springer Kemp, and Esther Peterson. Multiple generations partnered to expand social and economic rights, and despite setbacks, the fight for the many persists, as twenty-first-century activists urgently demand a more caring, inclusive world.
Putting women at the center of US political history, For the Many reveals the powerful currents of democratic equality that spurred American feminists to seek a better life for all.
Awards and Recognition
- A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year
"Cobble’s appreciation for the integrity of the full rights feminists’ line of reasoning and their persistence shapes her book."—Nancy F. Cott, New York Review of Books
"Cobble’s impressive research draws on countless primary sources from collections spanning archives, libraries, and research institutions from around the globe, making her book a must read for students interested in transnational feminism."—Choice Reviews
"[A] comprehensive new history. . . . Cobble’s book is brimming with stories of women who similarly moved in and out of unions, feminist organizations, and government posts."—Laura Tanenbaum, Jacobin
"Dorothy Sue Cobble's sweeping, carefully-researched, and beautifully-written story of full-rights feminists. . . . will no doubt remain a touchstone for the history of feminism and labor for years to come."—Jocelyn Olcott, International Review of Social History
"Dorothy Sue Cobble’s stirring international tale of ‘full rights’ feminism imparts a fundamental lesson: there can be no history of feminism without connecting it to the struggle for economic democracy, and there can be no future for economic democracy without feminism. A must-read book, For the Many offers not just a rich history, it provides an intellectual foundation for a vibrant, multidimensional, and equitable political future."—Jefferson Cowie, author of The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics
"The wide-ranging research that underpins this new history of American feminism is impressive, and its passion and perspective are refreshing."—Marilyn Lake, author of Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and Transpacific Exchange Shaped American Reform
"This indispensable book deftly charts the collective biography of a vast, cosmopolitan, and multigenerational network of ‘full rights’ feminist activists, many with labor movement roots, over the long twentieth century. Dorothy Sue Cobble shows that on both the national and global stage, these individuals laid the groundwork for today’s gender, race, and class justice movements."—Ruth Milkman, author of On Gender, Labor, and Inequality
"With extraordinary breadth and complexity, this narrative of interconnected international feminisms is a scholarly tour de force, a compelling read, and a hopeful reminder that versions of feminism committed to labor and social rights for working people are embedded in American history, and may still inspire movements for gender, class, and racial equality."—Joan Sangster, author of Transforming Labour: Women and Work in Postwar Canada
"Only Dorothy Sue Cobble could have written For the Many with such keen sensitivity and historical insight. Covering a large swath of twentieth-century history, this masterful synthesis of existing literature and new research captures the resilience and persistence of the battle for social democratic values in ways that speak powerfully to us today."—Susan Ware, author of Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote