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This article was published
in U.S. 1 Newspaper on March 4, 1998. All rights reserved.
Images of Women
Explore the world of women in this state with two books:
"New Jersey Women: A History of Their Status, Roles, and Images"
and "Through the Eyes of Women of the Twentieth Century."
The first, by Carmela Ascolese Karnoutsos, published in 1997 by the
New Jersey Historical Commission, covers four centuries of how women
achieved better lives for themselves in the home, in factories, and
society — and how they changed history. The second, "Through
the Eyes of Women," is an anthology with contributions from writers
age 9 to 76, and it is edited by Jacqueline Jacobson Pliskin of Words
and Pictures Publishing in East Brunswick.
Karnoutsos, a professor at Jersey City State College, offers statistics:
"In 1986 55 percent of all American women were in the work force;
45.9 percent (1.6 million) of New Jersey women were employed, keeping
pace with the national trend. One in six families was headed by a
woman. A majority worked in what has become traditional women’s employment.
However, women have also entered the professional fields of medicine
and law and the new high technology industries."
More interesting are her historical vignettes. Here are excerpts from
her accounts of three of New Jersey’s female reformers:
by her master, the Reverend Ashbel Green, president of the College
of New Jersey (later Princeton University). She continued to work
as a domestic in the Green household until 1822, when she traveled
as a missionary with a white family to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii).
Stockton returned to Princeton in 19833, helped found the Witherspoon
Street Church (Presbyterian), taught black children in a public or
common school, and promoted a night school for black adults in the
schools in New Jersey and in the nation in 1853. "In two years
enrollment at Barton’s school grew from 6 to 600. Bordentown had been
happy to let Barton build the school, but once she had made the school
so large, the authorities decided that it should be run by a man.
When a male principal was chosen, Barton, who after 20 years of teaching
was experiencing difficulties with her voice, resigned her post. She
left New Jersey and later became known for her work as a nurse during
the Civil War and organized the first Red Cross Society in America.
care of the mentally ill. Dix began her drive for a state hospital
with an intense public relations campaign. First she had to convince
both health officials and the public that mental illness was better
treated in a hospital than a prison. Then she had to persuade legislators
that spending state funds for a state hospital would have long-range
value. This required considerable political skill. Within three months
Dix had succeeded and the legislature passed the necessary bill.
which also includes books about the state in wartime, the state’s
Native Americans, the economy, ethnicity and immigration, architecture,
workers, arts and entertainment, the environment, society, and politics
and government. For ordering information call 609-292-6062.
Pliskin’s anthology has artwork, poetry, and essays that span the
changing times from the turn of the century to the on-line cyber environment
of today. "Some stories deal with women finding their place in
life and recovering their innate value as human beings — from
women who have gained their voice in the vote to those who own and
run their own business," says Pliskin. Both subjects and quality
vary widely, and many of the more compelling accounts, including an
amazing "lost child" coincidence story, are Pliskin’s own.
To order the book call 732-254-9262.
— Barbara Figge Fox
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— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.