Jessica Wilkerson’s To Live Here You Have to Fight analyzes the wide-ranging activism of working-class Appalachian women in the 1960s and 1970s. Interpreting a rich array of sources—oral histories, manuscript collections, ballads, documentary films, government records, and photographs—she intervenes in several important conversations about the twentieth-century United States. She illuminates the meaning of the War on Poverty; expands our conception of the welfare rights movement; and exposes new dimensions of late twentieth-century feminism. She sets working-class Appalachian women at the center of national developments, a repositioning that undermines assumptions that exclude them from progressive coalitions even in the twenty-first century.

In this powerful book based on her award-winning dissertation, Wilkerson argues that the activism of Appalachia’s postwar female progressives melded an “ethic of care with an ethos of citizenship” (3). Throughout her work, Wilkerson highlights the caregiving responsibilities that Appalachian...

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