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Edited by Alison Prentice and Susan Mann Trofimenkoff. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1985. 224pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-7710-8583-4. (The Canadian Social History series). CIP

Reviewed by Catherine Creede

Volume 14 Number 1
1986 January

At this point in the nascent field of women's history, any new publication is welcomed. The Neglected Majority is the second in a presumably forthcoming series of collections of essays on women's history in Canada, a series that is evidently looking to fill the gap in materials about this very important aspect of Canadian history. Unfortunately, it seems that the historians responsible for these books would be better to write a more general analysis of the history of women in Canada, rather than to produce such essentially disconnected collections of essays.

The essays in The Neglected Majority cover such diverse topics as the "Life Cycle and the Industrial Experience of Female Cotton Workers in Quebec, 1910-1950," "Birth Control and Abortion in Canada, 1870-1920," and "The Decline of Women in Canadian Dairying." The papers have clearly been well-researched and are well-documented, and each is another important peg in the establishment of a broad picture of Canadian women's history. But each is too minutely focused to prove very useful as a source for pre-university level students. The essays are written in a dry, scholarly manner, and the book as a whole is not easily digested. And while it is true that Canada's history is a bilingual one, the editors obviously and naively believe that every Canadian reads French and English equally well, often quoting in French and never bothering to translate.

The most useful thing about The Neglected Majority is its extensive bibliography of articles and books dealing with various aspects of women's studies. As a whole, the book is too scholarly to be used as a high school text, but it may be useful as a sourcebook. Since all of the essays have been reprinted from various fairly easily available journals, however, the real purpose behinid the book, which is to be a resource, is lost.

Catherine Creede, Windsor, Ont.
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