Jean H. Baker teachers history at Goucher College and is the author of James Buchanan and Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
From the 1840s to the 1920s, a succession of strong and articulate women in America defied convention and called upon lawmakers to grant women the right to vote. In this concise monograph, Baker (history, Goucher Coll.; Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography) examines the personal and professional lives of five of the most famous leaders of the battle for American women's suffrage: Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard, and Alice Paul. Individual chapters, most of which could be read as standalone pieces, examine each woman's motivations and attitudes; relationships with parents, siblings, and male and female lovers; strategies to win the vote; advocacy of other reforms; and relationships with other activists, placing them within the historical and political context. Based on some manuscript sources, but relying mainly on secondary materials, this popular treatment deals with women and a movement that have been much studied already and brings little new information to light. However, the book's close examination of the personal lives and motivations of the leaders may intrigue those new to the topic. Recommended only for the largest academic and public libraries.-Theresa McDevitt, Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
This lively, succinct overview of the five activists most responsible for securing the vote for American women is a welcome, intellectually sophisticated addition to feminist history. Baker, a respected historian at Goucher College, presents five interconnected critical biographical essays on Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard and Alice Paul. Baker's effortless blending of personal narrative with political and historical analysis-a technique she perfected in her groundbreaking 1987 Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography-works to great effect, not only vividly brings these women to life but explicating the complicated social and political framework in which they existed. For instance, she traces Frances Willard's evangelical feminist style and interests to her devotion to her mother and to her father's calling to be a minister during the Second Great Awakening. Baker knows a good story, such as the highly respectable Stanton's friendship with notorious free-lover Victoria Woodhull; Baker highlights both the story's drama and historical significance. While she doesn't ignore complex themes-such as the thorny relationship suffrage organizing had to the enfranchisement of African-American men-she often downplays them. Still, Baker has written a popular (yet scrupulously footnoted), smart and compelling book. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"Goucher history professor Jean H. Baker shows us the human web that shaped five women in their self-awareness, nonconformity and leadership in the struggle for suffrage...By weaving together their public and private lives, Baker deepens our appreciation for the warp and woof of their struggle." --Anne Grant, The Providence Journal
"Sisters: The Lives of America's Suffragists by historian Jean Baker (Hill and Wang) unspools the lives of Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard and Alice Paul as it unfolds the story of the women's rights movement. The story, itself compelling, becomes more so in Baker's skillful hands. No reader can walk away from this without understanding, and being moved, by the tremendous accomplishments of these women." --Geeta Sharma-Jensen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Baker's book gives a clear picture of these women whose passion for equal rights led them to spend their lives seeking social change." --Stell Simonton, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution