his book has been ten years in the making, and it is the result of
many people's efforts in both Cuba and the United States. It began
as a doctoral dissertation at a time when travel to Cuba was possible
under tourist visa but little contact between academic communities
existed for facilitating graduate research. Choosing to study Cuban
women took an act offaith that only a naive graduate student would have
made. Yet Cubans living in this country assured me that a dynamic and
effective Cuban woman's movement had existed and that there was
sufficient historical evidence in the United States to complete the
dissertation. Miguel Solis, now retired, was a bibliographer at Indiana
University's Lily Library who encouraged my study of the woman's
movement by suggesting starting points and sources. Armando
Gonzalez, retired Assistant Chief of the Hispanic Law Division of the
Library ofCongress, gave countless hours ofadvice about the use oflegal
documents and clarified obscure legal terms. Pablo Calvan, librarian in
the Library ofCongress microfilm reading room, took an active interest
in my sources and enjoyed sharing my rich materials and interpreting
cubichismos not found in dictionaries.
In the early stages ofresearch three Cuban feminists were still living,
and they graciously agreed to help me write a history of the feminist
movement. They knew this book would be a testimony to their work as
young women, so they listened to my questions, searched for docu-
ments, and answered me honestly. Marfa Gomez Carbonell, the first
female house representative and senator in Cuba, met with me once and
wrote several letters in response to questions about her perspectives on
feminism during the
Ana Moya de Perrera, the superin-
tendent of public schools in Havana province during the
information she had collected for a book on Cuban women she never
wrote. Elena Mederos de Gonzalez, a feminist and a social reformer, was
my most important guide. She was a woman of great integrity who
worked for the benefit of Cuban women, culture, and social justice. In
her last years she became my friend. She taught me about Cuba and the
woman's movement there, but her greatest messages were about life and
ultimately about death.
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