Historical events of the last three centuries come alive through these women’s singular correspondences—often their only form of public expression. In 1775, Rachel Revere tries to send financial aid to her husband, Paul, in a note that is confiscated by the British; First Lady Dolley Madison tells her sister about rescuing George Washington’s portrait during the War of 1812; one week after JFK’s assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy pens a heartfelt letter to Nikita Khrushchev; and on September 12, 2001, a schoolgirl writes a note of thanks to a New York City firefighter, asking him, “Were you afraid?”
The letters gathered here also offer fresh insight into the personal milestones in women’s lives. Here is a mid-nineteenth-century missionary describing a mastectomy performed without anesthesia; Marilyn Monroe asking her doctor to spare her ovaries in a handwritten note she taped to her stomach before appendix surgery; an eighteen-year-old telling her mother about her decision to have an abortion the year after Roe v. Wade; and a woman writing to her parents and in-laws about adopting a Chinese baby.
With more than 400 letters and over 100 stunning photographs, Women’s Letters is a work of astonishing breadth and scope, and a remarkable testament to the women who lived–and made–history.
"An almost panoramic look at our history and culture through the eyes of American women."—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"A delightful collection of belles letters in the most literal sense of the term, and a worthy successor to the editors’ previous volume [Letters of the Century]."—Publishers Weekly
"Whether as a rich primary source or simply an illuminating read, Women’s Letters is…. sure to be required reading not just for devotees of women’s history or the fine art of letter writing but also for surveying the broad scope of American history itself."—Library Journal
"These 400 letters chronicle the changes in women’s status even as their personal lives continue to revolve around family and friends, telling the stories of their lives and the life of the nation with incredible breadth and depth."—Booklist, starred review
"Women’s Letters ranges far and wide, both across the country and across the landscape of experience…. Reading the personal, unfiltered words of so many women through the centuries spurs a much more intimate connection with the past—and a better understanding of it—than most college textbooks can. Too bad "Women’s Letters" wasn’t around when we were trudging across the dry terrain of American History 101."—Minneapolis Star Tribune