Rickie Solinger

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Rickie Solinger (born 1947) is an independent historian, curator, and lecturer whose work focuses on reproductive politics, welfare politics, politics of incarceration, race and class, and motherhood.[1] She is the author of Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race before Roe v. Wade, The Abortionist: A Woman Against the Law, Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the U.S., Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America, Reproductive Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know, and, with co-author Loretta Ross, "Reproductive Justice: An Introduction," as well as articles about reproductive politics and welfare politics. Solinger curates art exhibitions associated with the themes of her books; the shows travel to college and university galleries around the country aiming to interrupt the curriculum.[2]

Life and career[edit]

She earned her Ph.D. in History from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.[3]

She is a founding member of Women United for Justice, Community, and Family, a Boulder, Colorado-based cross-class coalition of women committed to welfare justice. She has served on the Boulder County Welfare Review Committee and frequently speaks and writes in the community and elsewhere on matters of poverty, welfare, and economic justice.[4]



Title Year Award
Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race before Roe v. Wade 1992 Lerner-Scott Award[5]
The Abortionist: A Woman Against the Law 1994
Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the U.S. 2001
Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America 2005
Reproductive Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know 2013
Reproductive Justice: An Introduction (Co-author with Loretta Ross) 2017

Scholarly articles[edit]

Title Year
"The Girl Nobody Loved: Psychological Explanations for White Single Pregnancy in the Pre-Roe v. Wade Era, 1945-1965", Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 1990
"'Race and ‘Value’: Black and White Illegitimate Babies in the U. S., 1945-1965", Gender and History 1992
"'A Complete Disaster’: Abortion and the Politics of Hospital Abortion Boards, 1950-1970", Feminist Studies 1993
"Poor and Pregnant in the United States: 1950s, 1970s, 1990s", Social Justice 1994
“Dependency and Choice: The Two Faces of Eve”, Social Justice 1998
"Poisonous Choice", Bad Mothers 1998
"...But No Faith in the People.", Social Justice 2001
"The First Welfare Case: Money, Sex, Marriage, and White Supremacy in Selma, 1966, A Reproductive Justice Analysis", Journal of Women's History 2010
"Layering the Lenses: Toward Understanding Reproductive Politics in the United States", Journal of Women's History 2013


Title Year
Abortion Wars: Fifty Years of Struggle, 1950-2000 2000
Welfare: A Documentary History Of U.S. Policy And Politics 2003
Telling Stories to Change the World: Global Voices on the Power of Narrative to Build Community and Make Social Justice Claims 2008
Interrupted Life: Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the United States 2010

Art installations[edit]

Solinger creates art exhibitions associated with the theme of her books and installs them at college and university galleries. She uses art together with her scholarship to enrich opportunities for public education and interrupt the curriculum. She has produced art installations working with sculptors, photographers, and other activists since 1992.[2] Her exhibitions have traveled to over 140 college and university galleries since 1992.[6]

  • "Wake Up Little Susie: Pregnancy and Power before Roe v. Wade"[3]
  • "Beggars and Choosers: Motherhood is Not a Class Privilege in America"[7] - This exhibition, associated with the theme of Beggars and Choosers, made a visual claim for the legitimacy of all mothers and the importance of defending reproductive rights. The mothers in the photographs rejected or ignored the coercive politics of motherhood. This exhibition clarified the full meaning of reproductive rights: the right to decide to curb one's fertility as well as the right to decide to become a mother.[7] It opened at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in 2002 and traveled to campuses up until late 2008.[8]
  • "Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the United States"[9] - This exhibition focuses on raising public knowledge—and public outrage and activism—about the incarceration system in this country. It is a collection of paintings, photographs, and installation pieces. It opened at the California Institution for Women in 2006 (the first time an outside art exhibition opened in a prison).[9]
  • "Reimagining the Distaff Toolkit"[4] This exhibition features approximately thirty-five pieces of art. Each work of art features a tool that was important for women's domestic labor from the 18th century through World War II. The artists have placed objects such as a dressmaker’s figure, pots, pans, baskets, rolling pins, darning eggs and rug-beaters at the center of their works.[10] According to Solinger, “Many of these old tools facilitated… repetitive labor and evoke the various cultural histories of women’s unpaid, often diminished and disrespected status within the household and society. But in the 21st century, at a moment when ‘old tools’ have become aestheticized and expensive, we can look again and see their costly beauty."[11]


In 1992 she won the first Lerner-Scott Award given by the Organization of American Historians for Wake Up Little Susie[5] and in 2000 she received the Catherine Prelinger Award.[12]



  1. ^ Tucker, Judith. "Is Motherhood a Class Privilege in America?:An interview with historian Rickie Solinger,author of "Beggars and Choosers"". The Mothers Movement Online. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b Solinger, Rickie (Fall–Winter 2007). "WAKEUP/Arts and Interrupting the Curriculum". Women's Studies Quarterly. 35 (3/4): 276–279.
  3. ^ a b "UW-Green Bay lecture offers a look at poor women". University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b Zella, Robbin. "Reimagining the Distaff Toolkit Domestic Tools Subject of Contemporary Art Exhibit AT Housatonic Museum of Art". Housatonic Community College. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Lerner-Scott Prize Winners". Organization of American Historians. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Feminisms for the 21st Century". Union College: Women's and Gender Studies. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Beggars and Choosers: Motherhood Is Not a Class Privilege in America". Open Society Foundations: Movie Walls 9. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  9. ^ a b Solinger, Rickie (2008-09-11). "Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the United States". NWSA Journal. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 20 (2): 25–26. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  10. ^ Fowler-Decatur, Erika (2011-01-25). "Opening Reception for Reimagining the Distaff Toolkit on Thursday at the Handwerker Gallery". Intercom. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Rickie Solinger to speak at Housatonic Museum of Art". The Bridgeport News. 2012-09-29. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Catherine Prelinger Award". Coordinating Council for Women in History. Retrieved 12 March 2014.


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