On Wednesday, I opened up the New York Times, flipped through the first section, and found there the obituary of the historian Pauline Maier. She was a barrier-breaker. In the forefront of American women historians. There were earlier ones–Mary Beard comes to mind–but Pauline Maier was from St. Paul, Minnesota, my home town. As I read her obituary and remembered her influence on my teaching of American History, I recalled something another historian once wrote about teaching and learning. Jacques Barzun, a cultural historian, talked about distant teachers. Teachers one never meets but knows quite well. Teachers one encounters in books. Pauline Maier was one of my distant teachers. Today, my Friday Five are Distant Teachers.
#3. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich who once wrote, “Well behaved women seldom make history.”
#4. Mary Beth Norton whose textbook, “A People and a Nation” presents an inclusive view of our past that doesn’t put women, native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics in a box off on the side of the page and the story.#5. Joan Kelly, whose book of posthumous essays, “Women, History and Theory” taught me to ask different questions.
However, I would have never trod this path had it not been for my friend Mary Lenhardt whose gentle prodding got me to see that history is never complete unless it is the history of us all. In memory of Mary Louise Lenhardt, teacher and friend.