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The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina: Pioneers for Women's Rights and Abolition

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  121 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
A landmark work of women's history originally published in 1967, Gerda Lerner's best-selling biography of Sarah and Angelina Grimke explores the lives and ideas of the only southern women to become antislavery agents in the North and pioneers for women's rights. This revised and expanded edition includes two new primary documents and an additional essay by Lerner. In a rev ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 27th 2004 by University of North Carolina Press (first published January 13th 1967)
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52nd out of 186 books — 67 voters
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Abigail
Jan 27, 2014 Abigail rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of meaty, prose-y, poetic, historical, *real* writing I love sinking my brain into. The kind of book that thrills you and makes you want to go get your PhD in women's studies.
Carrie
Sep 14, 2015 Carrie rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable read -- the research Gerda Lerner put forth over many years (decades) to preserve the Grimke sisters'place in history (and the prominence they well deserve) is, in itself, inspiring; however, the impact these two sisters had on both the abolitionist and women's rights movements is truly incredible. That I'd never heard of them until I happened to read Sue Monk Kidd's "The Invention of Wings" (which I thought was a mediocre attempt at historical fiction) is disheartening. Ler ...more
Carol
Nov 19, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This is one of my favorite history books of all time for a number of reasons. I try to keep a copy near me always. It's great biography (dual biography at that). It's by Gerda Lerner, who was one of the most influentual female historians in general and one of the most influential historians of women's history in particular. The Grimkes are some of my favorite subjects. I don't want to give away too much here. Read for yourself and discover how much more interesting truth is than fiction. It's no ...more
Sue Tretter
Jan 26, 2014 Sue Tretter rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All women, history buffs
Wonderful book! Well written although there were a few times when I wanted more information about a particular person, place or thing. Helpful footnotes, appendices, bibliography and a good index are welcome aides. But more often than not, Lerner introduced uncounted people active in the Abolitionist, and later the Women's Rights movement, provided just enough information about their contributions, and then moved on to provide a very comprehensive recounting of the many main movers and shakers, ...more
Spencer
Apr 14, 2016 Spencer rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Having just read The Invention of Wings I simply had to read a real biography of these two sisters to see how the two books compare. They're pretty darn close, except for the fictionalized Netty Handful Grimké. Wings ends at about the time of their mother's death. The biography continues for another 40 years. They were a remarkable pair and their lives crossed with many noted Americans of the time—Horace Greely, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison, John Quincy Adams, Henry David Thoreau, ...more
Liz
Apr 14, 2015 Liz rated it it was amazing
After my book club read "The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd, I was curious to learn more about the Grimke sisters. This book did the job. It was well researched and written and gave me a real appreciation for the struggles of these two pioneers of both the abolition movement and the women's suffrage movement.
Becky Loader
May 17, 2014 Becky Loader rated it really liked it
Sarah and Angelina Grimke were sisters in the early times of the 19th century. Groomed to be wives and mothers, they had inquiring minds and a wonderful brother who was more than willing to share his lessons with them. They were not content to remain in the home.

The sisters shared many radical ideas, including abolition of slavery and rights for women. Working within the framework of religion and how ideas were spread in the time, they had a remarkable effect on the beginning of social reform. T
...more
Joan
Nov 27, 2007 Joan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in the history of abolition and women's rights
Shelves: gender
Good book! The writing was dry and dated, but I knew very little before about these amazing women.

Yes, they were privileged Southern white hetero women, modest in dress and attractive, who were heard for these things, at least at first, rather than the content of their speeches.

But to think, that in the early 1830s, people attended anti-slavery meetings TO LAUGH because it was a woman delivering the speech! Because women had never spoken in public to a group of men before, let alone about politi
...more
Dorothy
Jan 26, 2015 Dorothy rated it liked it
I read this after reading The Invention of Wings. I wanted to see how closely the fictionalized novel stuck to the real story of these amazing women. They were years ahead of their time. It was a bit dry, but lots of interesting and valuable information about abolitionists.
Kathryn Hall
May 30, 2014 Kathryn Hall rated it it was amazing
What a gift Gerda Lerner has put together! This book should be required reading in history classes in both high school and colleges around the nation. Not to know this is a travesty.
Georgie
Nov 29, 2015 Georgie rated it really liked it
Having read Sue Monk Kidd's "The Invention of Wings", I found this non-fiction book about the Grimke Sisters very interesting and informative.
Angelica Shirley Carpenter
A well-written but still academic book about two famous sisters from Charleston who became activists for abolition and women's rights in the 1840s. They left their slave-owning family in the South and made new lives for themselves in the North. As single women they could not live alone (even together) and as Quakers, they had to live where their Quaker meeting decided they should. Their self-sacrifice became a habit, taken to extreme. I read somewhere that there is a new novel coming out about S ...more
Cheryl
Mar 10, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it
very interesting non-fiction history of two sisters from the south who were deeply involved in the abolionist movement prior to the civil war. And their resulting involvmentthe woman's rights movement. Written by Gerda Lerner who was instrumental in getting women's history studies courses in colleges. Mrs. Lerner taught at University of Wisconsin and Duke.
Beth
Aug 18, 2010 Beth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-school
Amazingly well written book about the Grimke sisters, their activism in both abolition and women's rights, and their personal struggles. Lerner originally intended this as a novel and it reads accordingly--I found this hard to put down.
HeavyReader
Dec 24, 2008 HeavyReader rated it liked it
I read this book a long time ago. I remember how it really brought home the terrors of US slavery. It was not emotionally easy to read, but I think it gave me useful information.
Wisteria Leigh
social reformers,abolitionists,South Carolina,19th century,American history,non-fiction,feminism,anti-slavery,equal rights,womens' rights,
Sarah
Aug 25, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it
had to read this in college. it was a long read but very informative. glad it was required otherwise I never would have picked it up
Donna Coakley
Jul 31, 2011 Donna Coakley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
too much information, not enough story
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Gerda Lerner (April 30, 1920 – January 2, 2013) was a historian, author and teacher. She was a professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a visiting scholar at Duke University.

Lerner was one of the founders of the field of women's history, and was a former president of the Organization of American Historians. She played a key role in the development of women's history
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