Questions of evidence have sat at the center of black women's history since the field entered the academy over thirty years ago. Historians of black women's lives and labors have filled bookshelves by “mining the forgotten” to render them visible. Scholarship pioneered in the 1980s and 1990s established black women as prominent and indispensable historical actors, and key to understanding such eras as slavery, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights movement. Subsequent works built upon the bedrock that these initial studies provided, incorporating nuanced gender analyses into the history of black women's thought, experiences, and political action. The past ten years have seen a proliferation of publications that have extended the reach of the field to include such genres and approaches as girlhood studies, intellectual history, and black internationalism. This groundswell of research has foregrounded a persistent methodological quandary for scholars of black women's history: how should they address the paradox of simultaneously finding copious archival records on some black women, while also accounting for the deafening archival silence on others?
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