Monday, March 28, 2011

Women's History-Personal Histories

Two remarkable women from two different generations can be found in these featured titles.

A cardiothoracic surgeon, who seeks to educate women about the importance of taking care of themselves and their hearts, writes an approachable memoir in which she details her roles as physician, wife, and mother. Magliato intersperses anecdotes from her personal life with emergency medical situations, and, without being heavy-handed, she doles out medical advice. Magliato discusses her struggles with issues affecting women professionals, such as sexual harassment and parenthood, with frankness. As she recounts her formative years and her training to become a doctor, she writes as if she is talking to one of her friends or her family members. One comes away from this memoir having an appreciation for life and for those who work to save lives.

Though her name may have faded from all but the history books, Frances Perkins’ work as an activist and politician lingers into the 21st century. Perkins, President Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor and the first female cabinet member in U.S. history, was instrumental in securing an eight-hour workday, safer fire escapes, and Social Security. She also oversaw and/or implemented some of the New Deal initiatives like the Works Progress Administration. Kirstin Downey recounts the fascinating and challenging life that Frances had as the Labor Secretary and as a working mother with a husband who was institutionalized for much of their married life. In addition to synthesizing the facts of Ms. Perkins’ life, the author engages the reader in the person of Ms. Perkins; a woman who was down to earth despite her political position. For those who have an interest in U.S. history, labor relations, or women’s history, this biography delivers.

To check out one or both of these titles, come to the library and one of the librarians will be happy to assist you.

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