Feminist Historians for a *New* New Deal update

In case you missed last week’s post, “Actual progress for the new Obama WPA?,” you can now just go to “Feminist Historians for a New New Deal” at the Center for Research on Women & Social Justice.  From the press release:

An open letter to President-elect Barack Obama, initiated by several historians specializing in the New Deal, urges Obama to avoid the discriminatory components of Franklin Roosevelt’s programs in designing a stimulus package to address the current economic crisis. The letter has collected more than a thousand signatures from scholars of American history.

Noting that today’s stimulus package may focus heavily on construction to address the nation’s crumbling material infrastructure, the historians point out that American social infrastructure is crumbling just as badly. They call for jobs in education, health care, child and elder care, and point out that green and sustainable energy policy requires educators as well as construction workers.

The letter recalls both the achievements and weaknesses of New Deal stimulus programs, focusing particularly on discrimination against women in the public jobs programs (see below for full text of the letter).

“For all our admiration of FDR’s reform efforts,” the historians write, “we must also point out that the New Deal’s jobs initiative was overwhelmingly directed toward skilled male and mainly white workers. This was a mistake in the 1930s, and it would be a far greater mistake in the 21st century economy, when so many families depend on women’s wages and when our nation is even more racially diverse.”

With so many female breadwinners, the country cannot afford an exclusive emphasis on construction, which remains a heavily male-dominated field. All jobs need to be open to a diverse workforce, they agree, but a more diversified jobs strategy will create immediate opportunities for all, they add.

The letter, from Feminist Historians for a New New Deal, can be accessed on line at

Click here (or on the link above) to read the letter drafted by Eileen Boris, Linda Gordon, Jennifer Klein, and Alice O’Connor, and learn about other ways to take action.  Over 1,000 of us signed on. 

Thanks everyone, and happy end-of-the-semester!  I’ve got to get back to my little red (cook) book to finish up all those delicious holiday cookies and treats.  (Do those little holly cookies that you make with butter, marshmallows, cornflakes, green food coloring, and red hots count as cookies or candy?)  Rose at Romantoes and Erica at the good old days have already posted about some culinary sentimental journeys–divinity and Grandma’s fruitcake!  Bon voyage, and bon apetit, time travelers–let us know more about what the 1940s tasted like!

3 thoughts on “Feminist Historians for a *New* New Deal update

  1. Dearest Historiann –

    I am concerned that by wishing your readership a “happy end-of-the-semester”, you risk alienating a substantial portion of your audience, i.e, non-academics, e.g. plumbers.

    May we never open up Historiann.com one day to see Rule 5 – “This is an academic blog. I’m sure there are blogs out there that are all about professions that are not measured out by semesters, so please share your concerns there.”

    Your faithful and humble servant,

    Joe the Plumber


  2. Joe, I’m sorry you felt excluded by my cheerful greeting. I was trying to be non-sectarian, but I forgot about people who don’t work on the quirky academic clock.

    Wishing you a joyous and peaceful solstice,



  3. This is totally no problem, folks. We just got word today that the whole country (not just the academic whole country) is going on the semester system beginning on January 20 of the Year One, i.e., in about a month. This turns out to have been surprisingly well within the parameters of the Executive Order power, as interpreted by the courts. And the suits we answer to, over in Hoodumpler Hall, tell us that the Order is already drafted and ready to go. So, as part of the economic stimulus package, to drive the unemployment rate below zero, everyone in the country not already so circumstanced will get a three year renewable contract, paid for out of the $700B. Performance reviews would be in early 2012, with existing tenure situations all grandfathered of course.

    The one thing is, and this applies to Joe as well, is that everyone has to establish six hours a week of office hours, get them posted on a convenient nearby door by January 10, and of course, faithfully keep them.

    I’m not lookin’ forward to Rule # 5, either, but I think it’ll be for a severer infraction than just posting out of the plumbosphere! 🙂 Hey, it IS the solstice; almost forgot!


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