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33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women's History: From Suffragettes to Skirt Lengths to the E.R.A.    edited by Tonya Bolden order for
33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women's History
by Tonya Bolden
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2002 (2002)

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women's History touts history-in-the-making 'From Suffragettes to Skirt Lengths to the E.R.A.'. Editor Tonya Bolden highlights women's progress, focusing on thirty-three authors and spotlighting activists from the eighteenth through the twentieth century. Via poems, essays, letters, photos, art, fiction, theater and more, we hear the voices of women who laid the groundwork for future generations to have what they didn't, among the least of which is 'the same equal rights as men'. The authors address issues from the simple question - 'Do you know that girls were once not allowed to attend school?' to the ownership and inheritance of property.

In Revolutionary Petunias Bloomed in Early America, we learn that First Lady Abigail Adams wrote to husband John Adams at the Continental Congress 1776, 'I long to hear that you have declared independancy - and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could.' In an article Why Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) Still Rules, Kathleen Krull writes 'This surge of Eleanor power is all the more startling because we're talking serious late bloomer. Young ED was shy, awkward, frightened of everything, prone to depression, the opposite of a fashion plate - indeed, a genuine ugly duckling with a voice that warbled uncontrollably into giggles ... Ultimately, ER morphed into a heavy-weight champion of the oppressed, the poor, the underdog. Her all-time favorite word was hope.'

There were many women's firsts - those who went west to stake land claims through the 1862 Homestead Act; female unionizers such as Manhattan's Margaret Sanger, the birth control pioneer who founded the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1920; and Lillian Wald from Manhattan's Lower East Side who established the first visiting nurses association. Those with significant personal achievements include Jerrie Cobb (1931-), first female Astronaut Candidate; Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973) First U.S. Congresswoman; and Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (1823-1920), the first woman to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. During World War II, eighteen thousand women served in the U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reserve; at fifteen-years old poet Maya Angelou was a streetcar conductor, and six million women went to work (denied them before the War) as butchers, barbers, chemists, electricians, and musicians, forming all-girl bands (yes! only men were allowed in orchestras before the war).

The highly recommended 33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women's History offers a stalwart historical foundation to women's history. It includes a Glossary and biographies of contributing authors.

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