It was a meme before meme was a thing. Pulitzer prize-winning author, Idaho native, and Harvard Professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich observed in 1976 in her first scholarly paper (on funeral sermons for women) that “well-behaved women seldom make history.” The comment became a popular slogan appearing on t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, greeting cards, websites and blogs. In her book by the same title (2007), Ulrich explains how the phenomenon happened and what it means by looking back at women of the past who challenged the way history was written. The women she writes about range from the fifteenth-century writer Christine de Pizan, who wrote “The Book of the City of Ladies,” to the twentieth century’s Virginia Woolf, author of “A Room of One's Own.” Ulrich updates their attempts to reimagine female possibilities and looks at the women who didn't try to make history but did. And she concludes by showing how the 1970s activists who created "second-wave feminism" also created a renaissance in the study of history.
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich won the 1991 Pulitzer prize for history for “A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812,” in which she draws on the diaries of a midwife and healer in eighteenth-century Maine, to produce an intimate history illuminating the medical practices, household economies, religious rivalries, and sexual mores of the New England frontier.
Ulrich’s books also include: “The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth,” and “Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750.” She is also a co-author of “Tangible Things: Making History through Objects.”