Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage
at the Newseum
The book launch for The Superwoman and Other Writings by Miriam Michelson took place at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. , on June 24, 2019. Lori participated in a lively discussion about women and journalism to mark the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote.
Photo by Malek Naz Freidouni, courtesy of the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
"The Seeds of #MeToo Started Growing 100 Years Ago"
The Superwoman and Other Writings
by Miriam Michelson
The Superwoman and Other Writings by Miriam Michelson is the first collection of newspaper articles and fiction written by Miriam Michelson (1870–1942), best-selling novelist, revolutionary journalist, and early feminist activist. Editor Lori Harrison-Kahan introduces readers to a writer who broke gender barriers in journalism, covering crime and politics for San Francisco’s top dailies throughout the 1890s, an era that consigned most female reporters to writing about fashion and society events. In the book’s foreword, Joan Michelson—Miriam Michelson’s great-great niece, herself a reporter and advocate for women’s equality and advancement—explains that in these trying political times, we need the reminder of how a "girl reporter" leveraged her fame and notoriety to keep the suffrage movement on the front page of the news.
In her introduction, Harrison-Kahan draws on a variety of archival sources to tell the remarkable story of a brazen, single woman who grew up as the daughter of Jewish immigrants in a Nevada mining town during the Gold Rush. The Superwoman and Other Writings by Miriam Michelson offers a cross-section of Michelson’s eclectic career as a reporter by showcasing a variety of topics she covered, including the treatment of Native Americans, profiles of suffrage leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and police corruption. The book also traces Michelson’s evolution from reporter to fiction writer, reprinting stories such as "In the Bishop’s Carriage" (1904), a scandalous picaresque about a female pickpocket; excerpts from the Saturday Evening Post series, "A Yellow Journalist" (1905), based on Michelson’s own experiences as a reporter in the era of Hearst and Pulitzer; and the title novella, The Superwoman, a trailblazing work of feminist utopian fiction that has been unavailable since its publication in The Smart Set in 1912. Readers will see how Michelson’s newspaper work fueled her imagination as a fiction writer and how she adapted narrative techniques from fiction to create a body of journalism that informs, provokes, and entertains, even a century after it was written.
"Miriam Michelson’s voice comes roaring back from the Progressive Era, full of rollicking stories about Amazons, girl thieves, and feminist radicals. Whether she was covering news or writing fiction, Michelson modeled the kind of public engagement our own era desperately needs. Lori Harrison-Kahan has reintroduced a fierce, funny writer we should never have forgotten."
– Jean M. Lutes, author of Front-Page Girls: Women Journalists in American Literature and Culture, 1880–1930
"One of the most striking and colorful leaders who fought so long and so hard to secure voting rights for women, Miriam Michelson jumps out of the pages of this new and valuable work by Harrison-Kahan. Thanks at long last to the indefatigable effort by Harrison-Kahan and Miriam’s great-great niece, Joan Michelson, the story of Miriam and the roles she played in advancing the suffragette movement—constantly keeping it in the headlines— surges back to life, showing what can be done through courage and commitment."
– David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and professor of public service at Harvard Kennedy School
"This is a strong reminder that women worked hard for the right to tell the stories of our nation in their own voice. I am humbled by the women who came before me as I read about their struggles and perseverance. Especially today, as so many women fight for recognition and respect, it is important to look back at the long road we have already traveled and gain strength."
– Soledad O’Brien, journalist
"Thanks to Harrison-Kahan for bringing to light in this extraordinary book a body of work that honors the one-hundredth anniversary of women getting the vote, and introduces all of us today to a journalist whose writing helped make suffrage possible. A marquee byline in her time, this collection of Miriam Michelson’s work includes her newspaper coverage of a Women’s Congress in 1895 and her 1912 novella, Superwoman, which served as source material for ‘Wonder Woman.’ As an independent, single, professional woman, Michelson was ahead of her time in imagining what women can do."
– Eleanor Clift, Daily Beast columnist
"I’m grateful to Harrison-Kahan for bringing Miriam Michelson’s writings back to life. Michelson’s unusual perspective as a Jewish woman writer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century gives us new and timely insight into work, politics, and culture in that era."
– Judith Rosenbaum, executive director of the Jewish Women’s Archive
"Miriam Michelson’s journalism about women, ethnic minorities, and the West and her prescient speculative fiction make for fascinating reading for anyone interested in American studies, print cultural studies, journalism, or gender studies. Harrison-Kahan has performed a monumental service to these fields by recovering—with such attentiveness and care—the works of this popular, now forgotten Progressive Era frontier feminist author."
– Mary Chapman, professor of English, University of British Columbia, and author of Becoming Sui Sin Far and Making Noise, Making News: Suffrage Print Culture and US Modernism