Book details

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Modern American Revolutionary

By Lara Vapnek

About the Book

In 1906, fifteen-year old Elizabeth Gurley Flynn mounted a soapbox in Times Square to denounce capitalism and proclaim a new era for women's freedom. Quickly recognized as an outstanding public speaker and formidable organizer, she devoted her life to creating a socialist America, "free from poverty, exploitation, greed and injustice." Flynn became the most important female leader of the Industrial Workers of the World and of the American Communist Party, fighting tirelessly for workers' rights to organize and to express dissenting ideas. Weaving together Flynn's personal and political life, this biography reveals previously unrecognized connections between feminism, socialism, free love, and free speech. Flynn's remarkable career casts new light on the long and varied history of radicalism in the United States.

About the Lives of American Women series:
Selected and edited by renowned women's historian Carol Berkin, these brief biographies are designed for use in undergraduate courses. Rather than a comprehensive approach, each biography focuses instead on a particular aspect of a woman's life that is emblematic of her time, or which made her a pivotal figure in the era. The emphasis is on a “good read,” featuring accessible writing and compelling narratives, without sacrificing sound scholarship and academic integrity. Primary sources at the end of each biography reveal the subject's perspective in her own words. Study questions and an annotated bibliography support the student reader.

About the Author

Lara Vapnek teaches at St. John's University, in New York City. She specializes in the history of gender, labor, and politics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century United States. Her previous publications include Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865-1920 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), as well as several articles on women's labor history. She is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.

Series Editor Carol Berkin is a well-known women's historian and the author of many popular and scholarly books, including Civil War Wives. She is Professor of History Emerita at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and she is a member of the Society of American Historians.


"For educators keen to include women in the American story, but hampered by the lack of thoughtful, concise scholarship, here comes ‘Lives of American Women,' embracing Abigail Adams's counsel to John—‘remember the ladies.' And high time, too!"
Lesley S. Herrmann, Executive Director, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

"These books are, above all, fascinating stories that will engage and inspire readers. They offer a glimpse into the lives of key women in history who either defied tradition or who successfully maneuvered in a man's world to make an impact. The stories of these vital contributors to American history deliver just the right formula for instructors looking to provide a more complicated and nuanced view of history."
Rosanne Lichatin, 2005 Gilder Lehrman Preserve America History Teacher of the Year

"Students both in the general survey course and in specialized offerings like my course on U.S. women's history can get a great understanding of an era from a short biography. Learning a lot about a single but complex character really helps to deepen appreciation of what women's lives were like in the past."
Patricia Cline Cohen, University of California, Santa Barbara