Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sonoma County Women's History

Several years ago the late Mary Ruthsdotter, one of the founders of the National Women's History Project, conceived of a history of the feminist movement in Sonoma County, where it was very active from the first stirrings. Having been part of that history, I was interviewed by Professor Michelle Jolly of Sonoma State University. Ruthsdotter spurred Jolly to do oral histories as part of a class she was teaching. With the help of the California Humanities, Jolly was also able to post some of the findings on a website, Sonoma Womens HIstory

One unexpected source concerns an index of newspaper articles from the Press Democrat between 1969 and 1978. Clicking a box in the graphical display offers the headline and particular source information. The first two articles in 1969 exquisitely reflect the cusp of change. One concerns a Candlelight Ball, while the other announces a luncheon for war mothers, this being the era of Vietnam. Skimming over later titles, one is reminded of the enormous commitment of women then to establish support groups in various fields, to rally against discrimination, to pressure for new laws, and more. Those of us who lived through that time wonder why that history has been relatively forgotten. How often do my cohort members comment upon the set belief of so many young California women that equality is here, when that is not the case? We feel cranky, but when I survey what we attempted, perhaps we deserve to feel such annoyance.

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