Crystal Eastman: A Revolutionary Life

ISBN : 9780199948734

Amy Aronson
304 Pages
165 x 243 mm
Pub date
Jan 2020
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In 1910, Crystal Eastman was one of the most conspicuous progressive reformers in America. By the 1920s, her ardent suffragism, insistent anti-militarism, gregarious internationalism, and uncompromising feminism branded her "the most dangerous woman in America" and led to her exile in England. Yet a century later, her legacy in shaping several defining movements of the modern era-labor, feminism, free speech, peace-is unquestioned.

A founder of the ACLU and Woman's Peace Party, Eastman was a key player in a constellation of high-stakes public battles from the very beginning of her career. She first found employment investigating labor conditions-an endeavor that would produce her iconic publication, Work Accidents and the Law, a catalyst for the first workers' compensation law. She would go on to fight for the rights of women, penning the Equal Rights Amendment with Alice Paul. As a pacifist in the First World War era, she helped to found the Civil Liberties Bureau, which evolved into the ACLU. With her brother, the writer Max Eastman, she frequented the radical, socialist circles of Greenwich Village. She was also a radical of the politics of private life, bringing attention to cutting-edge issues such as reproductive rights, wages for housework, and single motherhood by choice.

The first biography of Eastman, this book gives renewed voice to a woman who spoke freely and passionately in debates still raging today - gender equality and human rights, nationalism and globalization, political censorship and media control, worker benefits and family balance, and the monumental questions of war, sovereignty, and freedom.


Introduction: Searching for Crystal Eastman

1. Origins

2. Discovering Crystal

3. Embarking: The Pittsburgh Survey, Workers' Compensation and the First Blush of Fame

4. The Federal Case for Woman Suffrage

5. Radical Pacifist

6. Agonizing Dilemmas and the March Toward War

7. From Protest to Dissent: Wartime Activism and the Founding of the ACLU

8. Regrouping: The Liberator Years

9. Passages: Feminism, Journalism and the Transatlantic Twenties

10. Marriage Under Two Roofs: Feminism and Family Life

11. Coming Home




About the author: 

Amy Aronson is Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Fordham University. Formerly an editor at Working Woman andMs., she now serves as the editor of Media History. She is the author ofTaking Liberties: Early American Women's Magazines and Their Readers.

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