When I was a kid, one of my favorite pastimes was to read a book at the same time as my mom; then we’d discuss it together. How I wish we’d had the wonderful “Women Who Dare” series to share!
These gorgeous little books feature photos from The Library of Congress. They’re no heavier than a paperback, and about the size of a Kindle or Nook, handy to take everywhere. And each volume is jammed packed with interesting insights about women who made a difference. I couldn’t chose just one to recommend, and I bet that once you start reading, you’ll need to buy the whole set, too. Mom, grandma, and daughter will all enjoy these tales of adventure and courage.
I’ve never given much thought to “Women Explorers” (Sharon M. Hannon). Who even knew they existed? There was Ida Pfeiffer who, in the 1840’s, explained to a tribe of cannibals in Sumatra that she was too old and tough to eat. Isabella Bird left her comfortable Victorian home in Scotland to circle the globe three times; she wrote popular books about her journeys. In 1925, The Society of Women Geographers was formed.
“Margaret Mead” (Aimee Hess) became a household name because of her work on human sexuality in Samoa. She married three times, and was a controversial figure in her day. Many consider her a harbinger of the sexual revolution which took place in the 1960’s.
“Women of the Civil War” (Michelle A. Krowl) were not content to just idly stand by while their men fought and died for their cause. The Daughter of the Regiment accompanied their husbands into battle. Famed Underground Railway leader Harriet Tubman was also a spy for the Union. Annie Etheridge risked her own life as medic, pulling wounded soldiers off the battlefield to safety.
All through history, there have been “Women For Change” (Sara Day). Often unsung, they’ve worked tirelessly for peace, to eradicate disease and poverty, and to gain the same liberties that men have enjoyed without question. Emma Willard opened her school for young women in 1821. Catherine Beecher wrote a treatise on domestic economy in 1845. In 1848, a state hospital opened in New Jersey, largely to the efforts of Dorothea Dix.
In 1848 “Women of the Suffrage Movement” (Janice E. Ruth and Evelyn Sinclair) met in Seneca Falls, NY, to begin their push for the vote. Despite hardship and ridicule, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone and their followers never rested until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920.
In the history of our country, no woman has been both admired and reviled more than “Eleanor Roosevelt” (Angelina Michelle Keating). For her unceasing efforts to better society, she earned the nickname First Lady of the World. During her crippled husband’s four terms as President, she became his legs, and travelled the country to report to him about substandard conditions.
It was Mrs. Roosevelt who invited “Marian Anderson” (Howard S. Kaplan) to sing at the Lincoln Memorial when the DAR denied the singer permission to perform at Constitution Hall. Anderson was renowned around the world for her beautiful voice. She was the first African American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera; she was also a champion of Civil Rights, and received the NAACP Spingarn Medal.
“Women of the Civil Rights Movement” (Linda Barrett Osborne) were always at the forefront in the fight for racial equality. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, she fueled a revolution. The subsequent bus boycott was led by Jo Ann Gibson Robinson. Countless other brave women, black and white, risked their reputations and their lives to end segregation.
The story of “Helen Keller” (Aimee Hess) has been an inspiration to people around the world. As a deaf and blind child, she led a solitary life in her Tuscumbia, Alabama home until teacher Annie Sullivan brought her into the light. Keller was the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college. She became the friend of many presidents. She was also an in demand public speaker, an author, and a vaudeville performer.
“Amelia Earhart” (Susan Reyburn) was the corn fed girl from Kansas who became a worldwide media sensation. At a time when women weren’t even expected to fly as passengers in airplanes, she was the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California. After Lindbergh, she was the second to fly solo across the Atlantic. She never stopped pushing the envelope.
A special mention here to a non-WWD book, Robert Burleigh’s “Night Flight.” This is a charming children’s book about Amelia Earhart, with vivid illustrations by Wendell Minor. It’s a fine introduction to notable women for kids four to eight years old.
It’s important for us to never grow complacent about the freedoms we take for granted. We must pass down the stories of “Women Who Dare” through the generations.
To purchase any of the featured books from amazon.com, click on the title in red.
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. Michall is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle. www.michalljeffers.com