Monday, May 26, 2008

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History
by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Published in 2007. 284 pages (including notes and index).

Almost everyone has seen a version of the statement "Well-behaved women seldom make history," maybe on a bumpersticker or a Tshirt or a coffee mug, but do they know where the statement originated? A single line in a scholarly article published by Pultizer Prize-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in 1976, the statement has become a piece of popular culture. In Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, Laurel - who happens to be my aunt - goes beyond the slogan and explores the idea of what it means to make history.

The thesis of the book - "Well-behaved women make history when they do the unexpected, when they create and preserve records, and when later generations care" (p. 229) - is centered around an analysis of three classic works of Western feminism: Christine de Pizan's Book of the City of Ladies, Elizabeth Cady Stanton's Eighty Years and More, and Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own.

My favorite sections of the book were "Amazons" - in which Laurel explores women warriors, including Mulan and Wonder Woman - and "Waves" - about the second-wave of feminism in the 1970s.

I'm counting this book for the "Every Month is a Holiday" challenge for Women's History Month (in March) and for the "Back to History" challenge, as well as the Spring Reading Thing.

If you've reviewed Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, please let me know. I'd love to link you here!



  1. This sounds like all kinds of awesome. I'm trying to read more non-fic, and this just may make the grade.

    Great review!

  2. I've always loved that quote, and this sounds like a wonderful book!!

  3. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is your AUNT? She came and spoke at my college once, when I was there. I'll have to check this book out.