Books about important women in early US history
December 11, 2012 2:40 PM   Subscribe

My dad has been reading about the US's founding fathers lately, and I would like to get him a book (or books) on some fabulous women who played important roles in the history of the United States. I would appreciate any recommendations for books about women who helped to shape the founding and early development of the US. Thanks!
posted by susanpoose to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I can't say enough about Abagail Adams, wife and partner of John Adams. I'm sure many people will suggest her. She's amazing, and a continuing source of inspiration to me.

I am particularly fond of the Quotable Abagail Adams, edited by John Kaminiski but My Dearest Friend is also great, and shows how Abagail and John worked through many issues together. If you think your dad would prefer more of a straight biography, I recommend Abagail Adams, by Woody Holton.
posted by OrangeDisk at 2:56 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Everything OrangeDisk said, except this awesome woman's first name was Abigail, not Abagail. There aren't a lot of notable "founding mothers" otherwise, though Martha Washington and Sally Hemmings are interesting women of the period.

You'll do better later in US history. There are the famous suffragists, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. You might also be interested in checking out the women of the Muckraking era, whose impressive members include Nellie Bly, Helen Hunt Jackson, Ida B. Wells, and Ida M. Tarbell.

Also of interest: Clara Barton, who founded the US Red Cross, and Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman to get an MD degree in the U.S.
posted by bearwife at 3:36 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

If he isn't averse to historical fiction, Barbara Hambly's Patriot Hearts is interesting. It's got an odd structure, though, so if he's looking for straightforward chronological biography, I'd try something else.
posted by asperity at 3:58 PM on December 11, 2012

How about Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation, by Cokie Roberts?

(Own it, haven't read it.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

I highly recommend Gary B. Nash's The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America, which focuses on blacks, Native Americans, women, workers, and other groups customarily ignored in accounts of the Revolution. It's an eye-opener in many ways, and the footnotes will give you other places to find the kind of thing you're looking for.
posted by languagehat at 5:19 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

Mercy Otis Warren
posted by LonnieK at 7:02 PM on December 11, 2012

Pretty much everyone's awareness of Abigail Adams (other than scholars at the reads-original-letters-in-manuscript level) came with the publication of The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784 which came out in 1972. It was republished in 2002 by Northeastern U. and is still available.
posted by jfuller at 12:23 PM on December 12, 2012

Portia by Gelles. Sorry, it's yet another about Abigail Adams.
posted by Neekee at 3:26 PM on December 12, 2012

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