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Wayne State University Press

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Great Girls in Michigan History

Patricia Majher

Award Winner

Women's Studies, Biography, Michigan, Young Readers

Great Lakes Books Series

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Published: March 2015
ISBN: 9780814340738
Pages: 192 Size: 5.5x8
Illustrations: 30 black and white photographs
Published: March 2015
ISBN: 9780814340745
Book Images

Thanks to author Majher, the accomplishments of these and other ‘great girls’ will not fall into obscurity but, rather, ably serve to inspire and encourage.

— Jean Alicia Elster

A deep-sea diver, a dancer, an activist, an aviator, a singer, and a soldier—Great Girls in Michigan History highlights some of the girls from Michigan’s past who did amazing things before they turned twenty years old. Author Patricia Majher presents easy-to-read mini-biographies of twenty girls with ties to Michigan, representing a variety of personal backgrounds and interests, locations across the state, and historical time periods.

Majher introduces little-known stories, like those of female aviator Nancy Harkness (Love), pioneer Anna Howard Shaw, escaped slave Dorothy Butler, professional baseball player Marilyn Jenkins, union leader Myra Komaroff (Wolfgang), and Native American writer Jane Johnston (Schoolcraft). She also includes figures that many readers will recognize—including First Lady Betty Bloomer (Ford), jockey Julie Krone, Motown star Diana Ross, and tennis champion Serena Williams. Majher shows that while life wasn’t always easy for these girls, they were able to overcome any number of obstacles to achieve their goals. Great Girls in Michigan History includes a brief section on each girl’s life after the age of twenty and a glossary of selected vocabulary words at the end of the book.

With its depictions of young women who have not typically been represented in history texts, this book will be inspirational reading for upper elementary school students (ages 8 to 12) and welcomed by Michigan schools, bookstores, and public libraries.

Patricia Majher is the editor of Michigan History magazine (published by the Historical Society of Michigan) and the author of Ladies of the Lights: Michigan Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service.

‘I’m where I want to be. . . I’m who I want to be.’ Those words spoken by teenager Fannie Baker (‘Girl Diver of the Great Lakes’) early in the first chapter of Great Girls in Michigan History alert even the most casual reader to the fact that the young women profiled in this book have a grit and gumption not found in many people of any age or gender. Author Patricia Majher has created concise biographies of some amazing young women: an enslaved seven-year-old girl who escaped to freedom in Michigan, the youngest woman in American history to earn a private pilot’s license, and the teenager who became the first known American Indian writer. Thanks to author Majher, the accomplishments of these and other ‘great girls’ will not fall into obscurity but, rather, ably serve to inspire and encourage.

– Jean Alicia Elster, author of Who’s Jim Hines? (Wayne State University Press, 2008) and The Colored Car (Wayne State University Press, 2013)

Great Girls in Michigan History will inspire readers through stories of the impressive achievements of young Michigan women. The girls included in this collection have diverse accomplishments and backgrounds and come from across the state. No other book focuses exclusively on the actions of Michigan’s girls. Young women reading this book will feel both the spark of curiosity to learn more about these historical figures and pride in knowing that Michigan girls achieve great things!

– Emily Fijol, executive director of the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame

  • 2015 State History Award - Result: Winner in the Children & Youth Books Category
  • 2015 Midwest Book Awards - Result: Finalist in the category of Children's Nonfiction
  • 2016 Michigan Notable Book Awards - Result: 1 of 20 selected annually
  • 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards - Result: Gold Medal Winner in the Great Lakes Best Regional Non-Fiction Category