“Well-behaved women seldom make history”

March 3, 2010

March is Women’s History Month

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

We’ve seen that clever quip on mugs, t-shirts, and posters, and it’s been used by news commentators, politicos, and pundits. But who said it first? Mae West wouldn’t be a bad guess. Gloria Steinem is another candidate. But here’s the truth: Harvard professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich used it in an obscure article on the little-studied funeral practices in Puritan America. Somehow it went viral and Ulrich starting seeing herself quoted on the aforementioned mugs and t-shirts. She saw this as a wonderful jumping-off point for a book dealing with how women have shaped history, citing examples from the lives of Rosa Parks, Christine de Pizan, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, Virginia Woolf, and many other notable women in American and world history.

Ulrich’s Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History is part of a large collection of books and other materials available through the Evanston Public Library on the topic of Women’s Studies. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we invite you to virtually browse our resources and to visit our display on the second floor Reader’s Services department.

We also invite you to join us at the library for  entertaining and informative Women’s History programs:

Saturday, March 6th at 2pmRadical Woman in a Classic Town: Frances Willard of Evanston, a lecture by Willard researcher Carolyn DeSwarte Gifford.

Tuesday, March 9th, 7pm–AAL Discussion Group: Josephine Baker. Join us for a discussion of Bennetta Jules Rosette’s biography Josephine Baker in Art and Life.

Sunday, March 14th at 2pmWomenLore Presents Mother Jones. Actress and historian Betsey Means presents the colorful life of labor activist, rabble rouser, and feminist Mother Jones.

(Barbara L., Reader’s Services)


Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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