Monday, January 20, 2020

MMGM- Susan B. Anthony

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Kanefield, Teri. Susan B. Anthony (The Making of America #4)
March 26th 2019 by Harry N. Abrams
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Why we still need biographies of first wave feminists: "A married woman taking her husband's name reflected that under legal principle of coverture she no longer had a separate legal existence of her own." (page 31) Women changing their names is one of my pet peeves, and now I have solid proof as to why!

Born in 1820, Anthony's life was so much different than women's lives today. She had to struggle to get an education, even though her family was slightly more supportive and expected less household work from her. She was able to eventually obtain a good teaching position in a school (as opposed to being a governess), but had to quit in order to take care of a family member. She became active in the abolitionist movement, and eventually met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with whom she would work for over fifty years. This friendship helped focus her energies into getting the vote for women. In 1888, (forty years after Seneca Falls) she helped form the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and led the group until 1900. It's amazing that she was able to travel and speak as much as she did; it's hard to imagine the obstacles she must have faced.

The best part of this book is that Anthony's life is put into perspective with discussion of the times in which she lived. Other famous women's rights activists are mentioned, such as  Amelia Bloomer and Lucy Stoner, and there ware sidebars on daily life conditions as well as social movements. The notes, timeline, and bibliography at the end are very thorough. Rare period photos are accompanied by drawings and newspaper illustrations from that same time.

The intersectionality of the early women's movement is notable; many suffragettes started their activism as abolitionists, and many were also entrenched in the temperance movement, which was concerned for women in poverty. Since the suffrage movement was active both before and after the civil war, there was a lot of discussion as to whether it was more important for African American men to get the vote before women, and at what point African American women would get the vote. it took 70 years for the 19th Amendment to be formed and passed; what seems like such a simple matter now was tremendously difficult and convoluted, and Kanefield does a good job at showing how Anthony played a role in this process while highlighting missed opportunities.

I would like to see biographies of lesser known early feminists like Carrie Chapman Catt, since there are a number of Anthony biographies already, but until we have them, I'm glad to see a woman represented in The Making of America series.

Ms. Yingling


  1. Oooh, I agree on wanting biographies of lesser known early feminists! And I appreciate it when biographies are honest about the positive aspects of the individual, as well as the obvious faults. I do not have an ARC of this title, so I'm not speaking specifically about it. However, so often we were taught all about the perfection of major historical figures and I hope today's children will learn that, even with obvious recognizable faults, they can be a driving force in achieving positive change. Thanks so much, Karen! I'll make a note of this title.

  2. This book sounds great! I know the basics about Susan B. Anthony, but it sounds like this book offers far more detail! Thanks so much for the review!