The Book Shelf: Women’s History

Throughout history, women have played important roles in government, business, and family. Our history is filled with women who have accomplished great things; here are just a couple of books about some of these women. As you explore this month’s book reviews, please take a moment to celebrate the important women in your life.

Modern Crimes

By: Chris Nickson

Lottie Armstrong is one of the first women in Leeds, England to become a police officer in 1924. While Lottie and her partner Cathy are hired to work as Women Police Constables or WPCs for the City of Leeds Constabulary, many of their male colleagues are not in favor of women in the police force. Lottie and Cathy have to put up with harassment from some of the male constables who feel threatened by their presence on the force. The two WPCs are limited to patrolling certain districts, apprehending women, and working on cases that are considered appropriate for women to investigate. Despite the limitations of her position, Lottie is very enthusiastic about her work and longs for an opportunity to expand her skills. Lottie soon finds herself involved in a case that gives her just such an opportunity, when she is tasked with investigating the case of a missing pregnant girl. Detective Sargent McMillan of the CID soon recognizes Lottie’s keen instincts and communication skills and gives her the opportunity to help with a murder case. Lottie will have to use all of her investigative skills to help solve the crime, while making sure that she does not overstep the boundaries put in place by her male counterparts.

Modern Crimes is a captivating fictional take on the life of the first female police officer in Leeds. Nickson provides rich detail on the daily life of a WPC in 1920s era England and sheds light on the struggle for gender equality. This cross genre work will appeal to the interests of many readers and the plot’s mix of daily life and crime solving will keep everyone intrigued.

A Warrior of the People

By: Joe Starita

The Native American people are an often marginalized group who have struggled to find their place in modern American society. The story of Susan La Flesche’s life brings the historical perspective of their struggle to light. Susan was the daughter of the Omaha people’s chief Joseph La Flesche (Iron Eye). Joseph was of mixed heritage, half Omaha and half French. Since he was part French, Joseph was exposed to many more aspects of the Anglo-American culture and lifestyle than other members of the Omaha tribe and he wanted to use his skills to help ensure that the Omaha people were able to survive the coming changes and advancements of white American society. Joseph raised Susan and his three other daughters to understand both the Omaha traditions and the American lifestyle. Susan was brought up with a foothold in both cultures. When she was fourteen, Susan traveled to the east coast to attend school so that her education would be on the same level as other Americans. While Susan enjoyed her studies, she returned to the reservation following her graduation not yet knowing what to do with her life. It would not be until her encounter with the Harvard anthropologist Alice Cunningham

Fletcher in 1883, when Susan nursed Fletcher back to health, that her desire to become a doctor for her people would be solidified.

This work presents an engaging history of Susan La Flesche’s journey to become the first Native American doctor. Starita’s style weaves Native American history into the fabric of Susan La Flesche’s life story. The format of the work does move back and forth in time repeatedly to illustrate how intertwined the history of the Omaha people are with Susan and her family. Overall, Starita depicts an informative work on Native American history and the important role of women.

If you like these books and would like to find similar titles, check out NoveList Plus. This online resource, available through the Mid-Continent Public Library, will help you find fiction books that appeal to your personal reading style. For non-fiction titles, check out Books & Authors.

Stacy Hisle-Chaudri is the Assistant Branch Manager at the Parkville Branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library. Stacy has worked in library and archival environments for ten years, and is a native of the Kansas City area. She has a Master of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University and a Master of Arts in History from the University of Central Missouri. Her areas of expertise are reader’s advisory, technology instruction, and genealogy research.