Roll off. . . . !
Today, March 1, 2022, the beginning of National Women's History Month, I thought about a 2019 conversation I had with a group of women in Glasgow, Scotland. It took place on August 7, Day 12 of our "In the Footsteps of Suffragettes" road trip through England and Scotland. I was talking with staff members of the Glasgow Women's Library, an extraordinary lending library, archive, museum, etc. One of the women, who dated herself back to the founding of the library/archive/museum, said--quite resolutely as I remember her countenance and tone—that her goal was that historic women's names "roll off the tip-of-everyone's-tongue."
The Library was founded in 1991, one year before I published my first two books about historic women: Breaking the Chains: The Crusade of Dorothea Lynde Dix and Spies: Women in the Civil War. Dix, the legendary, and beloved in her time, crusader for humane treatment of people with mental illness, particularly indigent people and prisoners resonated with me, the daughter of a psychiatrist. Spies was my retort to Ken Burns and his 1990 Civil War documentary that forgot to include the many essential ways women participated in the Civil War.
That was the beginning of my immersion in the glorious and fascinating world of women's history and the development of my roll-off-the-tip-of-my-tongue list of historic women that provides me with a treasure trove of empowerment, inspiration, guidance, and companionship—Fannie Lou Hamer, Frances Perkins, Dorothea Lynde Dix, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Belva Lockwood, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lucy Burns, Lalu Nathoy, Juana Briones, Ida B. Wells, Alice Hamilton, Elizabeth Bishop, Martha Gellhorn, Lee Miller, suffragists . . . .
(Here's the link to the Glasgow Women's Library www.womenslibrary.org.uk )