Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Ken notes Mary Ritter Beard for Women's History Month
Ken: Probably the most important historian to me, of the people living today, would be Howard Zinn. And a lot of times, I'll meet someone who knows of Zinn and they'll say, "Yes, he's a lot like Charles Beard." I heard that so often, I finally picked up some history written by Charles Beard. I like Beard a lot but I think he and Zinn write in their own unique voices.
But as I worked my way through Beard's books, I kept coming across the name Mary Ritter Beard. Yes, she was his wife. She also was a historian in her own right. And I got to think about Kat's review of Tori Amos' The Beekeeper and about how people can be left invisible if they're different from the ones who are noting "achievement."
Rebecca had strong posts on Monday & Tuesday about this. About how people were whining, "There are no female bloggers" when there are too. But if you're looking for the mainstream media to tell you who they are, you won't find them. And then yesterday she was talking about how you had to be true to yourself for something to really mean something. She talked about this community and I just thought about how it was passed on to me by a friend and how I've e-mailed articles from here to friends.
And that's how things mean something. You hear a voice and it speaks to you and that's what I felt like while I was discovering Mary Ritter Beard's writing.
With Charles, she wrote American Citizenship, A Basic History of the United States and The Rise of American Citizenship. (If she's written more with her husband, that's all I've read so far.) Of the books she wrote on her own, the one I found most surprising was Woman as Force in History which came out in the forties but doesn't seem dated.
And in that book, she's making some points like Rebecca made about how women aren't invisible in the world, you can see them, they are doing things. But the people recording history record what is most like them and the people recording history were largely male.
So I want to note Mary Ritter Beard because she is a historian worth reading and yet when people speak of the historian Beard to me they always just mean Charles Beard.
So I want to note Mary Ritter Beard and if someone already knows her, great. But if someone's never heard of her maybe they'll check her out. Even if they don't, they'll realize that there were two historians named Beard and that both are accomplished.