A Driven Look at Women's History
Having explored how women gained freedom in the mid 1800s and onward in her 2011 Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way), Macy follows this up with a great explanation of how the newfangled motor car was even more influential. Since early automobiles were so different from ones today, and since the whole experience of road travel was much more fraught with problems, there is a lot of discussion about the development of the auto and all it's attendant accoutrements. Imagine traveling even fifty miles without the benefit of roads, gas stations, or reliable tires!
Since my grandmother, who was born in 1893, never learned to drive a car, I was greatly impressed by the description of the women who took on this new and exciting machine and excelled at its use, even though they were not encouraged to do so. I knew about Alice Ramsay from the book Brown's 2000 book Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure,but I didn't know about Lillian Sheridan, who was the first female tire salesperson, Mary Dexter, who was a nurse who drove ambulances during World War I, or Olive Schultz, who was the first female taxi driver. I loved reading books to my girls about strong female role models when they were young, so that they would know that they were able to do just about anything they set their mind to. This book includes lots of great examples.
Macy always presents a well researched book, and there are a lot of facts packed into this brief 96 page book. Students who are using this for a history project will appreciate the complete bibliography, but readers who just want a book filled with amusing facts will not be disappointed.
I love that the foreword is by Danica Patrick, who says that her parents never told her she couldn't drive because she was a girl, and the chapter about women driving during WWI was particularly interesting. Who knew that Madame C.J. Walker's daughter was in the Colored Women's Motor Corps? Who even knew that such an organization even existed!