• Length:
    10 Weeks
  • Effort:
    2–3 hours per week
  • Price:

    Add a Verified Certificate for $50 USD

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  • Course Type:
    Self-paced on your time

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Recommended for those with an undergraduate level interest in history, labor, and gender.

About this course

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As we see American women coming into positions of economic and political influence, we start to wonder: why now? The Women Have Always Worked MOOC, offered in four parts, explores the history of women in America and introduces students to historians’ work to uncover the place of women and gender in America’s past. After a brief survey of the emergence of women's history as an academic field and its impact on the study of history as a whole, we will begin course one with a look at the experiences of women in Colonial America. We will explore the lives of enslaved women, of indentured servants, and of the rural housewife. We will learn the ways that women struggled to loosen the constraints of family by proclaiming that they, like men, possessed individual rights.

As this course progresses through the emergence of an industrial era, we will follow women from the home into the workplace, and explore how this shift influenced family life, power relationships within the family, and the ability for women to organize politically. Together we will examine the customs, cultures, and ideologies that governed women's lives in Colonial America and the early 19th Century.

What you'll learn

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  • How we account for the rise of the women's history as an academic field
  • How the relationship between race, class, and gender has impacted the kinds of work that different women do
  • What institutions and practices governed gender dynamics in Colonial America
  • The ways in which women shaped and participated in the American Revolution, and what the American Revolution meant for American women
  • How the ideologies of separate spheres and domesticity originated
  • How women began their involvement in political activity and moral reform campaigns and how the rise of an independent movement for women's rights in the United States came about
  • How the shift to women's work as paid work influenced family life, power relationships within the family, and the ability for women to organize politically

Meet your instructors

Alice Kessler-Harris
R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History Emerita
Columbia University
Nick Juravich
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Women's History
New-York Historical Society

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