Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)

Degree Level





Patrick Williams

Committee Member

Janet Allured

Second Committee Member

Michael Hevel




In the twenty-first century, the process of adopting statewide history textbooks has become a political battleground surrounding concepts of race, gender, and identity in American history. By contextualizing the current discussion surrounding content in American history textbooks, I examine the portrayal of women in secondary United States social studies textbooks from the 1960s to the 2010s. In doing so, I show how portrayals of women's history evolve in the most widely adopted high school post-Civil War American history textbooks in each decade from the 1960s through to the 2000s. By comparing the evolution of the women’s and gender historiography to the change in high school history textbooks, this analysis reveals new information about the level of pedagogical cogency in teaching social and cultural history to high school students. Textbook publishing data does not indicate the most popular textbooks nationwide or even statewide, with ample options available on the market. However, I am able to narrow the source material to the twenty states with a statewide textbook adoption process to examine commonly approved textbooks. I then calculate the approximate population of secondary high school students in those states to quantify students' intake of the adopted textbooks. While considerable scholarship analyzes the portrayal of women in high school history textbooks, this study emphasizes slight improvement of the textbooks and offers a solution to creating more effective learning material.