American Women Speak
An Encyclopedia and Document Collection of Women's Oratory [2 volumes]
by Mary Ellen Snodgrass
October 2016, 827pp, 7x10
2 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3784-5
$218, £168, 190€, A299
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eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3785-2
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For four centuries, American female oratory has furthered progressive movements in the United States and the world.

This A-to-Z compendium explores more than 150 American women activists from colonial times to the present, examining their backgrounds and the focus of their activism, and provides examples of their speeches.

Throughout history, American women’s oratory has crusaded for religious rights, abolitionism, and peace, as well as for Zionism, immigration, and immunization. This text examines more than 150 influential American women activists and their speeches on vital issues. Each entry outlines the speaker’s motivation and provides examples of their speeches in context, supplying information about the setting, audience, reception, and lasting historical significance.

This collection of women’s speeches emphasizes primary sources that underscore the goals of the Common Core Standards. Entries support classroom discussion on a range of topics, from women’s suffrage and birth control to civil rights and 20th- and 21st-century labor law. No other reference work compiles examples of female activism and oration across a 400-year span of history along with analysis of the speaker’s intent, forum, listeners, and public and media response.


  • Covers issues from 1637 to 2015, representing minority perspectives and speeches
  • Surveys oration as a means of enlightening the public on the needs of the poor, disenfranchised, undereducated, and underemployed females
  • Introduces less familiar activists, such as Samantha Power and Ai-jen Poo
  • Includes illustrations; a timeline; an appendix of significant speeches identified by title, date, setting, and topic; and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources
Mary Ellen Snodgrass has served as a humanities, English, and Latin teacher with more than 20 years of experience at the high school and university levels. In her 35-year career as a columnist for The Charlotte Observer and a textbook and general reference writer, she has completed 135 titles and won reference book of the year awards from the New York Public Library for Japan vs. U.S.A. and Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature; from Library Journal for Encyclopedia of Fable and Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion; from Choice, ALA, and Library Journal for Encyclopedia of Utopian Literature; and from Booklist for Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad.


"Snodgrass’s volume answers the need for primary sources and presents an avenue for quickly finding material that is missing from most high school and college textbooks. An excellent option for libraries supporting high school or undergraduate students studying American history."—Library Journal, January 11, 2017

"An excellent resource for college collections, American Women Speak is suitable for high school libraries, as well, and provides a wealth of quotable material for educators at those levels."—Booklist, Starred Review, January 31, 2017

"Well written and contains diverse women, topics, and works. . . . It is recommended for public and academic libraries, particularly at institutions with communications programs and rhetoric/composition programs."—ARBA, March 13, 2017

"Spanning the nation's history from early settlement to contemporary times, and concluding with an extensive bibliography, the resource features entries on women from a variety of social classes and ethnicities. The compilation is a valuable addition to library collections. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All libraries. All levels."—Choice, May 1, 2017

"In providing a broad scope from mid-seventeenth century to the present with voices from a wide-range of ethnicities and experiences, Snodgrass provides a work that not only captures the voices of each woman but also establishes the importance of the female voice to our history and society. . . . Ultimately, Snodgrass has created a unique and insightful reference work that would be relevant in various library settings—larger public libraries, high school and undergraduate."—Reference Reviews, January 18, 2018
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