Quotes From Women Historians

Women Writing About History

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin

Kevin Winter / Getty Images 

Some women historians document women's history, while other women are general historians. Here are some quotes from women known as historians.

Historians of Women's History

Gerda Lerner, considered to be the founding mother of the discipline of women's history wrote,

"Women have always made history as much as men have, not 'contributed' to it, only they did not know what they had made and had no tools to interpret their own experience. What's new at this time is that women are fully claiming their past and shaping the tools by means of which they can interpret it."

Mary Ritter Beard, who wrote about women's history earlier in the 20th century before women's history was an accepted field, wrote:

"The dogma of woman's complete historical subjection to men must be rated as one of the most fantastic myths ever created by the human mind."

Women Historians

The first woman we know to have written a history was Anna Comnena, a Byzantine princess who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries. She wrote the Alexiad, a 15-volume history of her father's accomplishments -- with some medicine and astronomy -- included as well -- and also including the accomplishments of a number of women.

Alice Morse Earle is an almost-forgotten 19th-century writer about Puritan history; because she wrote for children and because her work is heavy with "moral lessons," she is virtually forgotten today as an historian. Her focus on ordinary life foreshadows ideas later common in the discipline of women's history.

"In all the Puritan meetings, as then and now in Quaker meetings, the men sat on one side of the meeting-house and the women on the other; and they entered by separate doors. It was a great and much-contested change when men and women were ordered to sit together 'promiscuoslie.'" - Alice Morse Earle

Aparna Basu, who studies women's history at the University of New Delhi, wrote:

"History is no longer just a chronicle of kings and statesmen, of people who wielded power, but of ordinary women and men engaged in manifold tasks. Women's history is an assertion that women have a history."

Contemporary Women Historians

There are today many women historians, academic and popular, who write about women's history and about history in general.

Two of these women are:

  • Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, who founded the first academic Women's Studies department and later became a critic of feminism.
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose Team of Rivals has been credited with inspiring President Barack Obama's selection of cabinet members and whose book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt brings Eleanor Roosevelt to life.
"I realize that to be a historian is to discover the facts in context, to discover what things mean, to lay before the reader your reconstruction of time, place, mood, to empathize even when you disagree. You read all the relevant material, you synthesize all the books, you speak to all the people you can, and then you write down what you known about the period. You feel you own it." - Doris Kearns Goodwin

And some quotes about women's history from women who were not historians:

"There is no life that does not contribute to history." - Dorothy West
"The history of all times, and of today especially, teaches that ...
women will be forgotten if they forget to think about themselves." - Louise Otto
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Quotes From Women Historians." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, thoughtco.com/quotes-from-women-historians-3529967. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2020, August 29). Quotes From Women Historians. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-from-women-historians-3529967 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Quotes From Women Historians." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-from-women-historians-3529967 (accessed March 22, 2023).