Mary Edwards Walker, M.D., was the first woman in America to qualify as a surgeon. She was an early and outspoken exponent of what we would now call equity feminism and a lifelong advocate of sociopolitical progress, divorce law reform, freedom of dress, workers' rights, individualism, and temperance. For her battlefield heroism in the Civil War, she was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Eric v.d. Luft, Ph.D., M.L.S., was Historical Collections Assistant at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, twice a Fellow of the Francis C. Wood Institute for the History of Medicine, Curator of Historical Collections at SUNY Upstate Medical University, and editor of The Watermark. He is the author of several articles on the history of women in medicine and nineteenth-century medicine.
Janet Golden, Ph.D., is Emerita Professor of History at Rutgers University. She is the author of numerous books and articles in the history of medicine, the co-editor of the Critical Issues in Health and Medicine book series at Rutgers University Press, and the co-editor of "The Public's Health" blog at Philly.com. Her most recent book is Babies Made Us Modern: How Infants Brought Americans into the Twentieth Century.
Born in 1815 into a conservative family of privilege, Stanton was radicalized by her experience in the abolitionist movement. Attending the first international conference on slavery in London in 1840, she found herself amazed when the conference officials refused to seat her because of her sex. At that moment she realized that "In the eyes of the world I was not as I was in my own eyes, I was only a woman." At the same moment she saw what it meant for the American republic to have failed to deliver on its fundamental promise of equality for all. In her last public address, "The Solitude of Self," (delivered in 1892), she argued for women's political equality on the grounds that loneliness is the human condition, and that each citizen therefore needs the tools to fight alone for his or her interests.
Vivian Gornick first encountered "The Solitude of Self" thirty years ago. Of that moment Gornick writes, "I hardly knew who Stanton was, much less what this speech meant in her life, or in our history, but it I can still remember thinking with excitement and gratitude, as I read these words for the first time, eighty years after they were written, ‘We are beginning where she left off.' "
The Solitude of Self is a profound, distilled meditation on what makes American feminism American from one of the finest critics of our time.
In this subtly crafted biography, the historian Lori D. Ginzberg narrates the life of a woman of great charm, enormous appetite, and extraordinary intellectual gifts who turned the limitations placed on women like herself into a universal philosophy of equal rights. Few could match Stanton's self-confidence; loving an argument, she rarely wavered in her assumption that she had won. But she was no secular saint, and her positions were not always on the side of the broadest possible conception of justice and social change. Elitism runs through Stanton's life and thought, defined most often by class, frequently by race, and always by intellect. Even her closest friends found her absolutism both thrilling and exasperating, for Stanton could be an excellent ally and a bothersome menace, sometimes simultaneously. At once critical and admiring, Ginzberg captures Stanton's ambiguous place in the world of reformers and intellectuals, describes how she changed the world, and suggests that Stanton left a mixed legacy that continues to haunt American feminism.
Perhaps more telling about her life are the words of an 1866 London Anglo-American Times reporter, "Her strange adventures, thrilling experiences, important services and marvelous achievements exceed anything that modern romance or fiction has produced. . . . She has been one of the greatest benefactors of her sex and of the human race."
In this biography Sharon M. Harris steers away from a simplistic view and showcases Walker as a Medal of Honor recipient, examining her work as an activist, author, and Civil War surgeon, along with the many nineteenth-century issues she championed:political, social, medical, and legal reforms, abolition, temperance, gender equality, U.S. imperialism, and the New Woman.
Rich in research and keyed to a new generation, Dr. Mary Walker captures its subject's articulate political voice, public self, and the realities of an individual whose ardent beliefs in justice helped shape the radical politics of her time.
Winifred, a professional writer and consummate storyteller known to friends and family as Win, always assumed she would write her own memoir. But after retiring from teaching, she found that she could never find the time or inspiration to sit down and record the pivotal stories of her remarkable 92 years of life. Colleague and mentee Elaine J. Lawless devised a plan to interview Win about her life and allow her to tell stories with the intention that Win would edit the transcriptions into her memoir. Over four months, Elaine visited Win on Wednesdays to interview her about her life. Sadly, just one week after the conclusion of the final interview, Win unexpectedly passed away, before Elaine could give her the final transcripts. With the support of Win’s family, Elaine set out to finish this book on Win’s behalf.
Win’s story is one that will inspire and resonate with women as they continue to work toward equality in the world.