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Women in the Media: From the Margins to the Mainstream (February 2020): Reference and Seminal Titles

by Camille McCutcheon

Reference and Seminal Titles

Reference works can provide a general overview, and they are always a good starting point for research. Edited by Christopher Sterling, the six-volume Encyclopedia of Journalism includes numerous useful entries: “Women in Journalism” highlights notable women in both print and broadcast journalism; “Feminist News Media,” “Photojournalists,” “Political Reporters,” “Television Anchors,” and “Television Reporters” are also rich with relevant information. A valuable feature of the encyclopedia is its deep table of contents, which directs users to topical entries.

Another important resource for researching women in the media is Women’s Press Organizations, 1881–1999, edited by Elizabeth Burt. The volume provides a historical record of thirty-seven state, regional, and national organizations that served women in the media. Burt notes that at least a hundred women’s press organizations have been established in the United States. Some of them are still in existence, others have not survived, and some left little or no record of their existence. 

The “Dictionary of Literary Biography” series is worthy of mention in particular because the various titles include entries on women journalists and publishers who are not discussed in this essay because they have not been the subjects of scholarly works. Many of the titles in the series are dated, but they are valuable for historical purposes. The vast majority of the series is available online as Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online.1

Maurine Hoffman Beasley and Sheila Jean Gibbons’s Taking Their Place: A Documentary History of Women and Journalism (mentioned at the beginning of this essay) is a seminal text. It offers a chronological look at women’s print and broadcast journalism history from the Colonial era through the early 2000s. Beasley and Gibbons provide a comprehensive, historical overview of women in journalism and document the contributions made by individual women. The volume also includes some sixty primary documents, among them samples of women’s journalistic writings and lengthy first-person accounts by women journalists. Particularly noteworthy are a timeline of women in journalism and an annotated bibliography of resources.

Donna Halper’s Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting is a core title for broadcast journalism history. Arranged by decade beginning with the 1920s, this seminal work examines the evolution of women in radio and television and highlights women both in front of the camera and microphone and behind the scenes.


1. Of particular interest in connection with this essay are volumes devoted to American literary journalists, American magazine journalists, American newspaper journalists, and American newspaper publishers.

Works Cited