C is for completion

Continuing with the alphabet I started way back when, I thought I would try to list all the “C” things that mattered to me at the moment.  First of all there’s my daughter Connie who is only just beginning to like me again, but doesn’t want me to mention her in my blog ever, ever again.  I will say this however, her youngest daughter received notice this week that she had been accepted to Virginia Tech starting in the fall. Hooray.  That’s what Joy wanted. 

The next C word is completion.  I have finished a solid first draft of my historography paper on “women and reform during the nineteenth century and into the Progressive Era in the United States.” That’s not the title, but the title is almost as long.  Hisortoriograhy is the way historians write history.  

One thing I know after studying history all these years is that historians generally agree on the broad outlines of a topic, but every one of them will write about it in a different way.  For example: Yes, there was a women’s movement of sorts at the turn of the nineteenth century, but history didn’t happen the way Marxist Feminists like Linda Gordon have depicted it.  Rather, women during the nineteenth century disagreed about most things. They came from different backgrounds, regions of the country, economic circumstances and education levels. Some were Republicans, some Democrats, some Populists and some with one of the many other political parties. Some were Suffragists, but even the Suffragists were split into at least two camps. Women were issue oriented and tended to side with the group that offered them some possibility of redress on their issue of greatest concern.  

So what is new?  One of my pet peeves is when someone stands up and says, “women think…” or something similar.  Women don’t agree about much of anything, which is probably why it has taken so long for them to achieve parity with men.  Even today, there are women who will yell and scream and stamp their feet over this presumed slight or that presumed slight while others think they never had it so good.  

This is not to make light of the evils that seem to persist in this world. Rather, Western women might look at the glass as half full, rather than half empty.  

When I was a girl, my dad took me to Charlottesville VA to visit the University of Virginia.  I wanted to major in history and attend UVA, but it was not to be.  Many programs were not open to girls in those days.  Or if they were, there were huge obstacles had to be overcome.  I eventually ended up at Mary Washington College, which was affiliated with UVA, but was a “girls school.”

In May, my second oldest granddaughter will graduate from UVA with a degree in environmental science.  Now, that’s what I call progress.  Maybe what we get in this life is progress, not perfection.

 White Liatris and pink Echinacea

Echinacea ‘White Swan’

Coryopsis ‘Sunset’

is also for Coreopsis, picture (3) above.  David and I planted them in the long perennial bed out front.  They are tough little plants from the American prairies, and able to withstand the summer heat and drought. I am combining the Coryopsis with white Echinacea (2) above, we planted last fall, blue balloon flowers, Liatris Spicata Alba (1) also planted last fall, white Phlox, pink Japanese Anemone that cannot be removed, and ruddy Sweet Autumn Sedum. If It turns out well, I will post a photo later this growing season. If it looks like heck, we will dig it up.   

I can’t think of many more C things at the moment, but I probably will after I sign off.  Dang it. 



12 thoughts on “C is for completion

  1. I like the way you carefully avoid mentioning Connie… 😉

    A group of women disagreeing? There’s a shocker! Funnily enough, I agree with you – I hate it when people presume to think for me. That’s what my husband is for.


  2. “Maybe what we get in this life is progress, not perfection.” I can only hope so. I do love the journey and think its the hope and desire for more that makes life interesting and keeps us striving. With perfection we would only float. Yikes.


  3. Quite a brushoff to Linda Gordon, a major scholar in the history of women. Still working as a professor at NYU, still writing–her latest a prize-winning biography of the Depression photographer Dorothea Lange. Providing links in your post might encourage readers to make their own evaluations. Isn’t that a goal of the study of history?


    • The criticism of Gordon is that she writes her politics, not history. The sources I used are all in acdemic libraries and are mostly women historians. Even Gordon admits the women’s efforts in this period (Gilded Age, Progessive Era) were fractured, very fractured. And yes, she is a Marxist Feminist according to her critics.


      • And none of the historians you study are writing their politics? Women have thrived as a result of the “new women’s history,” as it was known in the early 1980s. Oh my, we became visible, had formed organizations both formal and informal. Personally I could breathe freer knowing that my personal struggle with sexism had a history!

        Was it the dominance of Marxist feminist women historians the reason the remarkable energy of the women’s temperance movement in the late 19th century was pushed into the package of “social control” rather than women responding to real pain? Maybe: there were a lot of heavy drinkers at women’s studies/history conferences I attended. They did not alter their stance till personal experience alerted them to alcoholism in their own circles. When did it become permissible to call females “alcoholics”?

        My concern is that you are a role model for women for older women taking latelife learning seriously enough to pursue another degree. Wishing you to move beyond the labeling so destructive to all sides of the political spectrum. Thanks for engaging!


  4. Women have made many strides in recent history. For example, there are more women in medicine (doctors) and law (attorneys, judges) — these fields were once dominated by men. I like to think of my friend’s youngest daughter, who was denied admission to medical school, went on to get her Master’s in biology, and reapplied and got accepted to medical school, where she graduated at the TOP OF HER CLASS!!! Then, there is my classmate, who became an attorney and is now a judge. Yes, not all women end up as secretaries.


  5. The topic you chose to study is a fascinating one in many respects, as you show here. When I was writing a history of Forest Service research in the interior West, one thread of the story was the advancement of women from clerical jobs only to management positions during the 86 years I studied. In national histories I read for background there were references to women playing strong background roles in the start of the conservation movement, in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I didn’t pursue that concept because it was beyond the scope of my regional history, but I did mention it.


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