Pieces to the Puzzle: Releasing the JFK Files

My husband was away for an intense two-week business trip, so I was left to care for our two wonderful, but utterly demanding toddlers on my own. Needless to say, life has been hectic. In the midst of the craziness, I have been intending to write a piece on the Watergate Scandal and its implications for the Russia investigation that is entangling our current president. Yet, something tremendous has happened over the past week and its historical importance demands our attention. (I know, I know; I keep promising a Watergate post. I will get to it, I promise!) But, first, let’s discuss the 2017 release of the JFK records.

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The Equal Rights Amendment and the Rise of Emancipationism

I am thrilled to see my article, “The Equal Rights Amendment and the Rise of Emancipationism,” published in Frontiers‘ special issue on the ERA. My article is based on a paper that I presented at “The ERA in the 21st Century” conference in November 2013. It also builds upon two chapters from my PhD dissertation, which I successfully defended in March 2014.

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Historical Research: Philosophy and Practice

To borrow from Joyce Appleby, I consider myself a practitioner of “practical realism.” I appreciate post-modern theorists’ suspicion of supposed essential universal truths; however, I still strive to obtain a degree of professional objectivity in my reconstructions and interpretations of the past.

Joyce Appleby
Joyce Appleby

In general, I investigate the interplay between language and ideas, particularly in the realms of religion, politics, gender, and the law. My current research examines the dueling civic ideologies embedded in the conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in order to shed light on the gendered ideas that have influenced social initiatives, political positions, and legal philosophies. In total, my work seeks to explore how the construction of ideas through language helps to create communal identities and values.

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RESEARCH TOOL: ZOTERO

Zotero is an invaluable resource for anyone who is organizing and analyzing research.

Even though I first encountered Zotero during a graduate-level digital history course, it took me another year to fully realize its benefits. When I began conducting research for my dissertation I became completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume and diversity of sources that I had to collect and examine. After three trips to the manuscript room at the Library of Congress produced scattered and indecipherable research notes, I decided to return to my Zotero account. This was probably one of the smartest decisions I ever made as a PhD student, as, to put it simply, I would not have finished my dissertation without the help of Zotero.

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Revising Dissertation into Book–Project Overview

Amending Nature: The Equal Rights Amendment and Gendered Citizenship in America, 1920-1963

This study illuminates the ideological contours of the conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from 1920 to 1963. Through a careful analysis of correspondence, public and private utterances, congressional testimonies, and several court cases this study unearths the dueling civic ideologies rooted in the struggle: emancipationism and protectionism. Emancipationists supported the ERA as the necessary conclusion to the Nineteenth Amendment. In short, emancipationists believed that the ERA fulfilled America’s political aspirations, as the amendment would ensure that men and women citizens enjoyed the same basic legal standard. In contrast, protectionists opposed the ERA as a threat to sex-based legal distinctions. From the protectionist perspective, American society rightly affirmed the separate roles of men and women citizens by differentiation in law. In the end, emancipationists and protectionists held different interpretations of the relationship between gender and citizenship. Emancipationists insisted that American political ideals upheld the right of men and women to participate as citizens on the same terms while protectionists maintained that true sexual equity demanded that the law be free to treat citizens differently on account of sex.[i] 

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