Famous American Women by Hope Stoddard

Start Your Free Trial

Download Famous American Women Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Famous American Women Analysis

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

If read in its entirety, Famous American Women is as much a history of American thought as it is a biography of American women. The threads of American philosophy can be traced through the ideas of Stoddard’s various subjects. Alcott, Fuller, and Mott, for example, all discuss the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Anthony, Barton, Dix, Stowe, and Tubman all provide commentary on the Civil War, as do Millay and Stein on World War I and World War II, respectively. Lange, Monroe, and Roosevelt express views on the Great Depression.

Another element holding the biographies together is Stoddard’s light touch in showing how these women either were involved in or were precursors to the contemporary feminist movement. Anthony was a member of the Daughters of Temperance Society before attending the historic 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Earhart, the first person of either gender to fly 2,400 miles across the Pacific Ocean, held the transcontinental speed records of her time and remains a symbol of the female spirit. Although she was only to live two years beyond the first women’s rights convention, Fuller, through her book Women in the Nineteenth Century (1845), laid the foundation for feminist discourse in the United States.

Many of the women included in Famous American Women are known for their accomplishments in the arts. Stoddard points out, however, the political implications of the creative mind. It is believed that President Abraham Lincoln credited Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (18511852) with raising the awareness level of the public to such an extent that the Civil War had to be fought. Nearly one hundred years later, Anderson’s open-air concert at the Lincoln Memorial was called “the greatest single event in the slow march of the American Negro to full equality as a citizen.” De Mille, the choreographer of Oklahoma! (1943), raised the status of the dancer to that of a respected artist, thus improving their financial situations. The documentary photographer Lange took such harrowing portraits of underprivileged United States citizens that public opinion prompted Congress to pass legislation to aid the poor. Monroe, through her editing of Poetry: a Magazine of Verse, changed the ways in which Americans viewed poetry, bringing it from a historical study to a rich and current source of reading material. She is credited with the popularization of contemporary American poetry, political and otherwise.

The roles of purely socially minded women are also...

(The entire section is 618 words.)