Category Archives: Personal

Monday Miscellany: Women’s History Month Edition

Women's History Month
via New York Civil Liberties Union

March is Women’s History Month.

And The Scout Report has kindly collected a list of pertinent resources. If you haven’t yet checked out The Scout Report, I highly encourage you to do it. It’s a source you can trust for information about valuable internet resources on lots of topics.

And now, here’s the good stuff.

Discovering American Women’s History Online

Based at Middle Tennessee State University, this valuable database gives interested parties access to digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, and so on) that document the history of women in the United States. Visitors can browse the database by subject, place, time period, or primary source type. There are many fascinating resources and links here, including letters from Abigail Franks to her son from the 1730s and 1740s and Katrina Thomas’ wonderfully evocative photographs of various ethnic weddings. Even a close appraisal of items listed by primary source is delightful, as the headings here include everything from broadsides to buttons to trade cards. One particularly noteworthy collection contains the papers of the late Irene Kuhn, who was a global traveler, journalist, and social commentator.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013.

The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

The mission of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America is to document “the lives of women of the past and present for the future.” The library is part of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and interested parties can peruse the Library’s announcements, scholarship opportunities, and digital collections here. The Picks & Finds area is a great place to start, as it contains a range of interesting posts and essays like “Dining with Dissent: Politics and Protest in Vegetarian Cookbooks.” Visitors shouldn’t miss the selections from the Kip Tiernan papers. Mary Jane “Kip” Tiernan was known for her work with organizations that aided the poor, homeless, and socially oppressed. One of her most notable accomplishments was the creation of Rosie’s Place, which was the first emergency drop-in shelter for women in the United States. Additionally, the library has the collected papers of the late Julia Child. In the overview of area, visitors can listen to Child talk about their culinary collections and also view selected papers.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013.

National Women’s History Project

Founded in 1980, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) was created by a group of women committed to recognizing women’s historical achievements. The organization was responsible for lobbying Congress to designate March as National Women’s History Month, and today, they provide information and training in multicultural women’s history for educators, community organizers, and parents. On the site, visitors can learn about the NWHP’s many outreach efforts, or explore by clicking on the Women’s History Month tab. Here, interested parties will find materials on the annual Women’s History Month celebration, along with some fun quizzes and press releases. The Resource Center contains essays about prominent women, along with an archive of Great Speeches by women and resources for teachers. Finally, the site is rounded out by a News and Events area that contains updates about other events the NWHP supports, such as National Nurses Week and Women’s Equality Day.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013.

Women’s Legal History

The Women’s Legal History website is the home of a searchable database of articles and papers on pioneering women lawyers in the United States. The site contains sections that include the WLH Biography Project and the index and bibliographic notes from “Woman Lawyer: The Trial of Clara Foltz” by Barbara Babcock. In the WLH Biography Project, visitors can look over the life stories of women in the legal profession, such as Agnes Sagebiel, Marge Wagner, and Julia Jennings. There are over 1,000 profiles that visitors can browse alphabetically or search by name, year, ethnicity, or law school. Additionally, the site contains detailed information about Babcock’s recent work, along with media clips related to the subject of women lawyers.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013.

The Frances Perkins Center

The Frances Perkins Center is named after Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve on a presidential cabinet. During her time as the U.S. secretary of labor under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Perkins worked tirelessly to improve the conditions of workers across the country. The mission of the Center is to “fulfill the legacy of Frances Perkins…by continuing her work for social and economic justice and preserving for future generations her nationally significant family homestead.” The materials on the site are divided into sections that include Frances Perkins, The Center, Projects, and Virtual Tour. The first section contains a photo gallery of Perkins, along with information about her life and times. In the Center area, visitors can read about the Center’s mission and staff or scan the blog. Finally, the Projects area contains a wonderful area called the Social Security Stories Project. Here, visitors can read stories about how Social Security has impacted generations of individuals and also contribute their own memories and experiences.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013.

African-American Women: Online Archival Collections

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University has a wealth of digitized materials related to African American women. This particular collection brings together three noteworthy collections: Elizabeth Johnson Harris: Life Story; Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson: Slave Letters; and Vilet Lester Letter. This last item is particularly noteworthy as it is a very rare item indeed: a letter written by a female slave. The Elizabeth Johnson Harris: A Life Story area brings together the full text of her memories, along with several poems and vignettes published in various newspape rs in her lifetime. She was born in 1867 to parents who had been slaves, and the memoir includes information about her own childhood and the importance of religion and education in her life. Finally, the last section brings together letters written by Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson to their mistresses and other slave family members in Abingdon, Virginia.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013.

By Popular Demand: “Votes for Women” Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920

This remarkable collection brings together a plethora of printed materials related to the struggle for woman suffrage in the United States. Created as part of the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress, the materials here include photographs of suffrage parades, picketing suffragists, an anti-suffrage display, as well as a number of cartoons. The site includes a special timeline which profiles the long struggle for woman suffrage, through Abigail Adams’ admonition to her husband to “Remember the Ladies” all the way up to the first proposal of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923. Visitors can browse the subject index for items ranging from Allegories to Women-Political Activity-Washington (D.C.). The site is rounded out by a selected bibliography and information on how to order photographic reproductions.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013.

My List: Best Books Read in 2012

I read 42 books during 2012, for a total of 5,852 pages of print and just slightly more than 137 hours of unabridged audiobooks.

Most best books of 2012 lists include only books issued this year. But my list includes anything I read during the year, regardless of when it was published. The oldest book was John C. MacDonald’s The Deep Blue Good-by from 1964. My list also includes both fiction and nonfiction.

Listed alphabetically by author:

Top Ten

Didion, Joan. Blue Nights

Flynn, Gillian. Gone Girl

French, Tana. The Likeness

Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Koppel, Lily. The Red Leather Diary

Lippman, Laura. I’d Know You Anywhere

McDermid, Val. The Mermaids Singing

Mitchell, David. Cloud Atlas

Sankovitch, Nina. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading

Towles, Amor. Rules of Civility

Honorable Mention

Armstrong, Karen. The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness

Genova, Lisa. Left Neglected

Gornick, Vivian. Fierce Attachments: A Memoir

Rose, Phyllis. Parallel Lives:  Five Victorian Marriages

Levinson, Leila. Gated Grief: The Daughter of a GI Concentration Camp Liberator Discovers a Legacy of Trauma

New Year Reading Resolution

As this list demonstrates, I don’t review many of the books I read, even my favorite ones. So my one resolution for this year I to write about more of the books I read so that a year from now I’ll be able to provide links for most of the entries on my best books list.

And here are a couple of other lists of book-related resolutions:

Books About Older Women

Over on my other blog I wrote recently about the fate of women who are lucky enough to reach older adulthood. Here, in no particular order, are some books that portray older women.


All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West
The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
The Book of Eve by Constance Beresford-Howe
As We Are Now by May Sarton
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
“Irina” by Mavis Gallant
Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene
No! I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club by Virginia Ironside
Half Broken Things by Morag Joss
The Bulgari Connection by Fay Weldon
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
How It All Began by Penelope Lively
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell
Glass by Sam Savage
Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell


Going Grey by Anne Kreamer
Balsamroot: A Memoir by Mary Clearman Blew
A Round-Heeled Woman by Jane Juska
I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron
I Love a Broad Margin to My Life by Maxine Hong Kingston


If you have additions to this list, please put them in the comments.

4:30 AM

I am not a morning person. But there seems to be something sacred about 4:30 AM. That’s when my best thoughts gently shake me awake.

This Thanksgiving morning greeted me with the realization of how much online existence has increased the quality of my life.  We talk and read a lot about how the electronic world invades our lives and erodes our privacy, and all of that is true. Yet Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with family members whom I haven’t seen for years and to develop relationships with people from the next generation and even with their children. I now keep up with the everyday lives of people with whom I used to communicate only once a year, with the annual holiday card and newsletter. I’ve even come to know some friends of friends, people whom I never would have known if not for Facebook. Blogs and Twitter have also introduced me to people who share my interests and increase my knowledge by adding their own.

So on this holiday morning, I am thankful for all of you out there. You know who you are. Happy Thanksgiving.

Best Books Lists for 2012 (Yes, already)

Not even Thanksgiving, and yet we have our first offerings in the annual best-books-list marathon.

Best Books 2012

This is the lead-in page to Publishers Weekly’s lists:

  • Top 10 Best Books of the Year
  • Fiction
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Poetry
  • Romance
  • SF/Fantasy/Horror
  • Comics
  • Nonfiction
  • Children’s Picture Books
  • Children’s Fiction
  • Children’s Nonfiction
  • Religion
  • Lifestyle

Best Books of the Year: 2012 Editors’ Picks

Amazon offers lists in the following categories:

  • Editors’ Top Picks
  • Children’s Picture Books
  • Middle Grade Books
  • Teen Books
  • Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
  • Literature & Fiction
  • Kindle Singles


And completely unrelated to this topic:

This is my 500th blog post here.

This just seemed too significant to let pass unannounced.