Gregory Pfitzer, "'Fame Is Not Just for the Fellas': Female Renown and the Childhood of Famous Americans Series" (U Massachusetts Press, 2022)


In “Fame is Not Just for the Fellas”: Female Renown and the Childhood of Famous Americans Series (University of Massachusetts Press, 2022), Gregory Pfitzer examines the editorial and production choices surrounding the biographies of women in the popular children’s book series Childhood of Famous Americans, published between 1932 and 1958. Using conversations and disagreements among authors, editors, readers, reviewers, and sales agents at Bobbs-Merrill publishers, the book tells the story of how female subjects were chosen and what went into writing these histories for young readers of the time. Tensions between “feminism” and “femininity” reflected changing Cold War gender norms, and sources reveal ongoing negotiation of the virtues that the biographies should instill. Pfitzer illustrates how these books shaped children's thinking and historical imaginations around girlhood using tales from the past and considers the influence of the series on readers and American culture more broadly. "Fame Is Not Just for the Fellas" places the series in the context of national debates around fame, gender, historical memory, and portrayals of children and childhood for a young reading public--charged debates that continue to this day.

Rebecca Turkington is a PhD Candidate in History at Cambridge University studying transnational women’s networks.

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Rebecca Turkington

PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge
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