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Women in American History: From Pocahontas to the Presidential Election (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

From Pocahontas to the present, this course will use case studies to explore the lives of women in their own words, and to assess the changing experience of women in American history.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No prior knowledge required.

Content of Course

1. Pocahontas and Native Women in Early America.

2. “A Loving Mother and Obedient Wife”: Anne Bradstreet and Women in Puritan New England.

3. “Remember the Ladies”: Abigail Adams, the American Revolution and Republican Motherhood.

4. “All Men and Women are Created Equal”: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Women’s Rights.

5. Harriet Tubman, Antebellum Slavery and Abolitionism.

6. Emmeline B. Wells and Women in the West.

7. “Let Us Have the Rights We Deserve”: Alice Paul, Suffrage and the Roaring ‘20s.

8. “We Can Do It!”: Rosie the Riveter and Women in the Second World War.

9. “The Feminine Mystique”: Betty Friedan and Second Wave Feminism.

10. Hillary Clinton, Women and Politics in 21st Century America.

Teaching method(s)

Lecture-based with class discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the experience of American women according to geography, race and class;

  • Assess the extent to which the featured women were, and were not, representative of other women during their period;

  • Evaluate the reshaping of women’s roles in American society;

  • Engage critically with primary and secondary sources;

  • Demonstrate the above points in the assessment.


Core Readings


  • Evans, S. M., 1997. Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America. New York: Free Press.


  • Berkin, C., 1996. First Generations: Women in Colonial America. New York: Hill and Wang.

  • Berkin, C., 2006. Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence. New York: Vintage.

  • Chafe, W., 1991. The Paradox of Change: American Women in the 20th century. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Cott, N. F., 1977. The Bonds of Womanhood: ‘Woman’s Sphere’ in New England, 1780-1835. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

  • Cott, N. F., 2000. No Small Courage: A History of Women in the United States. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Frieden, B., 1965. The Feminine Mystique. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

  • Kleinberg, S. J. 1990. Women in American society, 1820-1920. Brighton: British Association for American Studies.

  • Norton, M. B. and Alexander, R., 1996. Major Problems in American Women’s History: Documents and Essays. Lexington, Mass: D.C. Heath.

  • Ulrich, L. T., 1982. Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750. New York: Knopf.

Web Sources

American Women’s History: A Research Guide

Pocahontas Archive

Anne Bradstreet, Poems

Correspondence between John and Abigail Adams

Martha Ballard’s Diary Online

Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

Women’s Rights National Historical Park

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt

What Did You Do In the War, Grandma?

Women At War

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided.


10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.