Clio Visualizing History

Metaphorical light bulb in which the woman illuminates the bulb as she 'clicks.'

Are you sure you know what feminism really is?

Click! In the 1970s that word signaled the moment when a woman awakened to the powerful ideas of contemporary feminism. Today “click” usually refers to a computer keystroke that connects women (and men) to powerful ideas on the Internet.

We aim to bridge the gap between those two clicks by offering an exhibit that highlights the achievements of women from the 1940s to the present. This exhibit explores the power and complexity of gender consciousness in modern American life.

Think of this as a conversation between generations, between men and women, between historians and the public. While the focus is clearly historical, we are not focused exclusively on the past. We believe that the enormous changes in women’s lives need to be better known, both for what was accomplished and for what remains to be done.  That is what we mean by “the ongoing feminist revolution.”

Periods of heightened mobilization like the 1960s and 1970s are significant and eye-catching, but social movements don’t start from scratch. Understanding the backstory is just as important as documenting the dramatic moments that caught the media’s attention. Nor do we stop the story in 1975 or 1980 when the media began to lose interest, precisely because women’s issues and women’s lives continued to evolve. Instead, we explain and explore the long history of women’s activism over time. And yet we realize that these changes remain controversial and contested, so we always aim to tell the story from multiple perspectives.

We examine the big national projects and leaders, and we also look closely at the grassroots. We are equally concerned with social change on an individual, personal level and in society at large. We document these ongoing struggles for gender equality in three major areas — the workplace and family; politics and social movements; and the body and health — and, because we are historians, we offer a full library of resources for those who want to learn more. So start clicking — in both senses of the word — and prepare to have your historical consciousness raised.

Each section of this exhibit features a timeline with unique content. The timeline materials on this page are relevant to all of the topics in the exhibit and are present in each.

How to Navigate our Interactive Timeline

You will find unique content in each chapter’s timeline.

Place the cursor over the timeline to scroll up and down within the timeline itself. If you place the cursor anywhere else on the page, you can scroll up and down in the whole page – but the timeline won’t scroll.

To see what’s in the timeline beyond the top or bottom of the window, use the white “dragger” located on the right edge of the timeline. (It looks like a small white disk with an up-arrow and a down-arrow attached to it.) If you click on the dragger, you can move the whole timeline up or down, so you can see more of it. If the dragger won’t move any further, then you’ve reached one end of the timeline.

Click on one of the timeline entries and it will display a short description of the subject. It may also include an image, a video, or a link to more information within our website or on another website.

Our timelines are also available in our Resource Library in non-interactive format.

Timeline Legend

  1. Yellow bars mark entries that appear in every chapter

  2. This icon indicates a book

  3. This icon indicates a film

1971 The Click! Moment

The idea of the “Click! moment” was coined by Jane O’Reilly. “The women in the group looked at her, looked at each other, and ... click! A moment of truth. The shock of recognition. Instant sisterhood... Those clicks are coming faster and faster. They were nearly audible last summer, which was a very angry summer for American women. Not redneck-angry from screaming because we are so frustrated and unfulfilled-angry, but clicking-things-into-place-angry, because we have suddenly and shockingly perceived the basic disorder in what has been believed to be the natural order of things.” Article, “The Housewife's Moment of Truth,” published in the first issue of Ms. Magazine and in New York Magazine. Republished in The Girl I Left Behind, by Jane O'Reilly (Macmillan, 1980). Jane O'Reilly papers, Schlesinger Library.