Women Who Shaped History Critical Essays

Henrietta Henkle


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

During the lifetime of each of the six individuals described in Women Who Shaped History, each managed to break some of the “preconceptions that held the human race in bondage.” Buckmaster highlights the relationship between their efforts and the social changes that marked the nineteenth century.

Buckmaster creates dimensional portraits of each woman and points out that men responded to their courage with admiration and assistance. For example, Stanton, Crandall, and Eddy all had supportive husbands. At a very young age, Tubman’s father taught her how to survive in the wilderness. Crandall’s father was deeply committed to the antislavery movement.

This classic collective biography, written specifically for young adults, presents approximately twenty-five pages of text on each person. The book illuminates how individual commitment can shape social change. The efforts of four of these women were primarily on behalf of women or African Americans; however, all six were sympathetic to any effort to liberate humans from suffering. Tubman, for example, went on to work for women’s suffrage after the Civil War ended. Dix worked to obtain humane treatment not only for the insane but also for prisoners. Blackwell became a “Christian socialist.”

What distinguished these women, according to Buckmaster, was that they were embued with “vivid idealism, immense courage, and a spiritual valor which embraced the needs of the whole world.” Her message to young adults is complex but simply presented. The biographies are factual and suspenseful. Each illuminates the peculiarities of...

(The entire section is 663 words.)