First Anthology Of Women Freethinkers Released (Jan/Feb 1997)

The first collected writings of women freethinkers has just been published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Women Without Superstition: “No Gods – No Masters,” edited and with an introduction by Annie Laurie Gaylor, is the Foundation’s eleventh book.

The title comes from the accolade Robert G. Ingersoll gave his wife Eva, “a woman without superstition,” in the dedication of his first book. The subtitle, “No Gods – No Masters,” was the motto Margaret Sanger chose for her periodical The Woman Rebel.

The impressive collection of women freethinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries features 50 diverse writers, feminists, and activists who spurned dogma, from Mary Wollstonecraft to today’s Barbara Ehrenreich, a columnist for Time. The hardcover edition includes biographical sketches of contributors, and 51 photographs.

“This collection makes available for the first time the work and writings of women freethinkers which otherwise must be scavenged from the dustbin of history,” Gaylor writes in the preface.

“Freethinkers today, male and female, seem hungry to know more about this largely forgotten aspect of the freethought movement. The barrier has been the difficulty in finding information about their lives and writings.”

Most of the featured essays were out-of-print and generally inaccessible, or have not appeared in book form before, including such classics as Ernestine L. Rose’s 1861 “A Defense of Atheism,” and Barbara Ehrenreich’s 1981 Mother Jones article, “U.S. Patriots: Without God on their Side.” A special “Freethought Reader” section on the fascinating and voluminous but forgotten irreligious writings of Elizabeth Cady Stanton is featured.

“When the history of the women’s rights movement is finally written, it will be about the battle of woman versus orthodoxy,” predicts Gaylor. “This collection recognizes the vital role heretical women have played in freeing women, as well as in furthering freethought.”

The book was made possible thanks to a grant from the James Hervey Johnson Foundation.

The “lost” views and writings of women freethinkers can be rediscovered just in time for Women’s History Month (March). Order the hardcover book as a reference for yourself, or as gifts for family members, or public or university libraries.

The hardcover anthology sells for $25 postpaid and may be ordered directly from FFRF, P.O. Box 750, Madison WI 53701. See excerpts.

Freedom From Religion Foundation