During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, almost nothing was written about the contributions of women during the colonial period and the early history of the newly formed United States. Lacking the right to vote and absent from the seats of power, women were not considered an important force in history. Anne Bradstreet wrote some significant poetry in the seventeenth century, Mercy Otis Warren produced the best contemporary history of the American Revolution, and Abigail Adams penned important letters showing she exercised great political influence over her husband, John, the second President of the United States. But little or no notice was taken of these contributions. During these centuries, women remained invisible in history books.
Throughout the nineteenth century, this lack of visibility continued, despite the efforts of female authors writing about women. These writers, like most of their male counterparts, were amateur historians. Their writings were celebratory in nature, and they were uncritical in their selection and use of sources.
During the nineteenth century, however, certain feminists showed a keen sense of history by keeping records of activities in which women were engaged. National, regional, and local women’s organizations compiled accounts of their doings. Personal correspondence, newspaper clippings, and souvenirs were saved and stored. These sources from the core of the two greatest collections of women’s history in the United States one at the Elizabeth and Arthur Schlesinger Library at Radcliffé College, and the other the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College. Such sources have provided valuable materials for later generations of historians.
Despite the gathering of more information about ordinary women during the nineteenth century, most of the writing about women conformed to the “great women” theory of history, just as much of mainstream American history concentrated on “great men.” To demonstrate that women were making significant contributions to American life, female authors singled out women leaders and wrote biographies, or else important women produced their autobiographies. Most of these leaders were involved in public life as reformers, activists working for women’s right to vote, or authors, and were not representative at all of the great of ordinary woman. The lives of ordinary people continued, generally, to be untold in the American histories being published.
在十七和十八世纪期间，几乎没有关于殖民时期妇女的贡献和新成立的美国早期历史的文章。由于缺乏投票权和缺席权力，妇女不被视为历史上的重要力量。安妮·布拉德斯特里特在十七世纪写了一些重要的诗歌，梅西·奥蒂斯·沃伦创作了美国革命的当代最佳历史，阿比盖尔·亚当斯写了重要的信件，表明她对她的丈夫，美国第二任总统约翰施加了巨大的政治影响力。但很少或没有注意到这些贡献。在这几个世纪中，女性在历史书籍中仍然是隐形的。 尽管女性作者撰写了关于女性的文章，但在整个十九世纪，这种缺乏知名度仍在继续。与大多数男性同行一样，这些作家都是业余历史学家。他们的着作本质上是庆祝性的，他们在选择和使用资料时并不加批判。 然而，在十九世纪，某些女权主义者通过记录妇女参与的活动来表现出敏锐的历史感。国家，地区和当地妇女组织汇编了他们的行为。个人通信，报纸剪报和纪念品得到保存和存储。这些来自美国两个最伟大的女性历史集合的核心，一个在拉德克利夫学院的伊丽莎白和亚瑟施莱辛格图书馆，另一个在史密斯学院的索菲亚史密斯收藏馆。这些来源为后世历史学家提供了宝贵的资料。 尽管在十九世纪收集了更多关于普通女性的信息，但大多数关于女性的文章都符合历史上的“伟大女性”理论，正如美国主流历史主要关注“伟人”一样。为了证明女性对美国生活做出了重大贡献，女性作者挑选了女性领导者并撰写了传记，或者重要的女性制作了自传。这些领导人中的大多数都参与了公共生活，如改革者，为妇女投票权工作的活动家或作者，并且在普通女性的所有人中都没有代表性。在美国出版的历史中，普通人的生活一般都是不为人知的。