Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Women Who Shaped History, Henrietta Buckmaster informs young readers about six courageous American women of the nineteenth century, each of whom dared to effect change in attitudes, laws, and services on behalf of the ill and oppressed in American society. A black-and-white portrait preceeds each chapter. All the women were born between 1802 and 1821, so their lives occasionally intertwined and influenced one another.

Dorothea Dix brought about the first state and national laws ensuring humane care for mental patients and penal inmates. Prudence Crandall established the first schools for the education of African-American women emerging from the institution of slavery before and after the Civil War. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was instrumental in mobilizing support for women’s rights and, against the advice of others, pushed for suffrage and won. Elizabeth Blackwell went from medical school to medical school before gaining admission; she established her own medical school before she broke the barriers to the acceptance of women in the medical profession. Harriet Tubman, from the age of twelve to ninety-two, worked to rescue people in slavery by leading hundreds to freedom via the Underground Railroad and speaking eloquently across the country in favor of women’s suffrage. Mary Baker Eddy refused to accept the belief that suffering was God’s will; she created a church to reflect her views, followed by a newspaper to promulgate those views....

(The entire section is 516 words.)