16.4 C
Friday, September 30, 2022
New book about women’s contributions is a historical society landmark

John Sayers

Special to The Lake Report

As the publishing arm of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum, the Niagara Historical Society has a record of more than a century of valuable publications about the history of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Last week I bought a copy of the new, most recent title and this 180-page book, “Making Her Mark – The Women of Niagara-on-the-Lake,” sets a new level of publishing success.

Talking to assistant curator Shawna Butts, the driving force behind creation of the book, I learned that once the objective of a book “Dedicated to the past, present and future women of Niagara-on-the-Lake” had been established it was clear that the book must follow a chronological sequence.

The stage was set by an opening chapter by Cecilia Morgan on Writing Women’s History and begins with Molly Brant, born in 1736 of Mohawk descent.

Noted local historian Richard Merritt has provided several examples of Women in the Wilderness. Successive chapters, beginning with a profile of Chloe Cooley by Natasha Henry, president of the Ontario Black History Society, bring the story of these deceased contributors to our town right up to 2020.

I’m sure that museum managing director Sarah Kaufman is thrilled at the accomplishment by Butts of recruiting a body of specialist authors and shepherding them through the creation of this 180-page book.

As well as providing some of the writing, and quarterbacking the editing, Butts also did the layout work and the indexing, a major task, using the historical society’s Adobe Publishing software.

In one of my own books I had to deal with a secondary author. As chair of the museum’s publications committee, I really appreciate the task that Butts did of finding and working with so many authors. I was not involved with the museum’s project in its initial stages so I can only imagine the work to co-ordinate so many writing styles and personalities.

I understand that Butts found that there were so many important contributions by local women that there could have been a book twice the length of “Making Her Mark,” but space did not permit, so a special section is provided to recognize these other important women.

When you have finished reading this book you will realize how much this aspect underscores the massive contribution women made to our town’s development and success.

Could a book be written about other towns in our province which reflects this much of a contribution by women? Probably not. We have been so fortunate.

I believe that there have already been dozens of advance orders for copies thanks to the wonders of email and the telephone, even though the museum has been closed under COVID restrictions.

It will have a prominent place in the gift shop. Of course, you could wait for the imminent opening of the shop at the museum but a warning – the book had a limited print run. I called in advance and picked up my copy at the door. Happy hunting.