Revolutionizing Expectations
Women’s Organizations, Feminism, and American Politics, 1965–1980

Melissa Estes Blair

Exploring feminist activism at the local level during a critical period of social transformation


“In Revolutionizing Expectations, Melissa Estes Blair traces the nuances of the women’s movement in cities far beyond the Northeast. This highly readable and thoughtfully researched book showcases how women made the movement in their own communities and reminds us of the value and importance of local histories in analyses of social movements. It belongs on the shelves of any person who wants to understand how and why grassroots feminism matters in the past and for the future.”
—Stephanie Gilmore author of Groundswell: Grassroots Feminist Activism in Postwar America

"Melissa Blair’s research combines primary and secondary sources, making excellent use of interviews with activists and archival materials. The book is well researched, clearly organized, and persuasively argued."
—Amy Higer, H-Socialisms

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In the 1970s the women’s movement created tremendous changes in the lives of women throughout the United States. Millions of women participated in a movement that fundamentally altered the country’s ideas about how women could and should contribute to American society. Revolutionizing Expectations tells the story of some of those women, many of whom took part in the movement in unexpected ways. By looking at feminist activism in Durham, Denver, and Indianapolis, Melissa Estes Blair uncovers not only the work of local NOW chapters but also the feminist activism of Leagues of Women Voters and of women’s religious groups in those pivotal cities.

Through her exploration of how women’s organizations that were not explicitly feminist became channels for feminism, Blair expands our understanding of who feminists were and what feminist action looked like during the high tide of the women’s movement. Revolutionizing Expectations looks beyond feminism’s intellectual leaders and uncovers a multifaceted women’s movement of white, African American, and Hispanic women from a range of political backgrounds and ages who worked together to bring about tremendous changes in their own lives and the lives of generations of women who followed them.


Page count: 224
4 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $74.95

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List price: $24.95

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Melissa Estes Blair is assistant professor of history and political science at Warren Wilson College.